- Let's imagine it's your birthday
and it's tradition that you and your family and friends
share a delicious hearty meal together.
Since this day only comes around once a year,
you figure you'll splurge a little.
You'll eat at a nice seafood restaurant overlooking the bay.
You eat shrimp and tuna and other fish and crab
as well as drink a couple of beers.
At the end of the night, you feel good.
Your stomach's happy and full
and this meal was the best you've had in a while.
Unfortunately, you may have made a poor decision
especially if you're prone to gout attacks.
While you sleep that night,
your body goes into overdrive to digest a natural compound
that's found in your seafood platter.
This compound is called purine.
Certain foods such as seafood, meats, alcohol
contain a high amount of purine
and you just had a very high purine meal.
Your body will work to break down purine
and turn it into uric acid.
It's sent out of the body through your urine.
The problem arises when there's an excess
of uric acid in our system.
So where does all that extra uric acid go?
It accumulates itself
and crystallizes in your joints which hurts.
This is what we call gout attack.
So while you're sleeping peacefully
and dreaming of your next crab cake or lobster roll,
you are suddenly awakened by incredible pain
in your big toe.
You can't even bear to have the sheet touching it.
Before it was truly understood,
gout was thought of as a disease only wealthy people get.
It was called the disease of kings
since only wealthy people could indulge in a lot of meat,
seafood and alcohol.
Of course, a change in diet is not a cure for gout.
You still will need to be on your medications
prescribed to you by your doctor
but it's important to note that a healthy diet
may help decrease uric acid levels in the blood
therefore reducing the chance of crystals forming
in your joints.
Now that we understand a little more about the effects
of high levels of uric acid,
let's look at how diet can help you take control.
Your goal should be getting to a healthy weight
and maintaining a healthy diet.
A gout diet is basically the same
as any recommendations for a balanced healthy diet.
The key is to plan ahead and make good choices.
If you're overweight, you increase the risk
of developing gout.
Losing weight will help lower your risk.
Try to eat more complex carbohydrates
rather than processed foods.
Eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Avoid foods such as white bread, cake, candy,
soda and drinks with high fructose corn syrup.
Cut back on saturated fats from red meats,
fatty poultry and high fat dairy products.
Drink plenty of water.
Increasing the amount of water you drink
may help lower the number of gout attacks you have.
Drink eight to 16 cups of fluid a day
and half of that should be water.
Eat only four to six ounces of lean meat,
fish or poultry a day.
You can get additional protein from lowfat
or fat free dairy products, beans and nuts.
Lowfat dairy products like yogurt and skim milk
are linked to lower uric acid levels.
Lowfat yogurt can be very satisfying
as a mid-afternoon snack.
While some vegetables are high in purines,
they do not raise the risk of gout attacks.
Your diet should contain lots of fruits and vegetables.
Try vegetables raw and cooked.
There are a number of vegetables that make a great snack
while sweet potatoes cut in strips
are crunchy and delicious.
There are certain foods you should avoid.
Stay away from meats such as liver and kidney.
They are high in purine.
Red meat, lamb and game meats
should be limited to small amounts on rare occasions.
Stay away from oily fish such as anchovies,
herring, sardines, trout, paddock, mackerel and tuna.
You should also avoid shellfish like mussels,
scallops, shrimp, lobster and crab.
Avoid all alcohol if you have frequent gout attacks
or your gout is not under control.
Stay away from beer.
Beer is known to put you at a higher risk of gout attacks.
Whiskey and other hard liquors may be linked to gout attacks
but not as much as beer and wine may be a better choice
but you should discuss this with your doctor.
What might a day of eating healthy look like?
Try oatmeal with raisins and almonds
and eight ounces of skim milk.
For lunch, a mixed green salad with lowfat dressing
and an apple.
Six ounces of boneless chicken breast,
a baked sweet potato and cauliflower
and for dessert, mixed berries.
In summary, there is good evidence
that following a well balanced healthy diet
can decrease your risk of gout attacks.
This diet will help you in limiting
the amount of purines and uric acid.
Always keep in mind that a diet
is not meant to take the place of your medications.
So the next time you pick your hearty meal of choice
no matter what the occasion,
remember what is best for your body
when it comes to preventing gout attacks.