Purines are natural substances found in plant and animal foods that the body converts to uric acid. Kidneys remove uric acid from the blood and eliminate it in the urine. If your diet contains too many foods with a high or moderately high purine quantities, your uric acid level may rise enough to cause kidney stones or gout.
Gout is a form of arthritis (occasionally called gouty arthritis) that can be extremely painful and is the result of an excessive build-up of uric acid in the body, leading to the development of uric acid crystals. In many cases, gout initially affects the joints of the big toe. But various other joints and areas around the joints can be affected in addition to or instead of the big toe. These include the ankles, fingers, insteps, heels, knees, wrists, and elbows.
The symptoms of gout attack the sufferers unexpectedly. These symptoms may not last for more than a week but may resurface in a few days. Some people also experience chronic pain due to a gout attack. The frequent symptoms of gout attack include – extreme tenderness of the joint, sudden intense pain in hand, wrist, keen, red or purple skin around the joint, toes and ankle, swelling, inflammation, and extreme heating of the joint.
Your diet plays an essential role in both causing gout and reducing the probability of suffering further painful attacks of gout. Following a low-purine diet may help reduce symptoms such as tenderness in your joints, pain, and redness. Also, considered a precursor to developing full-blown gout, “symptomatic hyperuricemia” can usually be eliminated in its early stages by adopting a diet of low purine foods.
In a 2004 study by the Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, researchers evaluated the link between the consumption of purine-rich foods, protein and dairy foods and the incidence of gout in a cohort of 47,150 men who had no history of gout at baseline. They concluded that increased seafood and meat intake was linked with approximately a 50% higher risk of gout development over the 12-year study period.
Here is a list of foods high in purines:
The range of purines found in food can also vary widely. While most foods contain 10-15 milligrams of purines in a ½-cup serving, some foods can contain 500-1,000 milligrams or more in this same serving size.
Meat – out of all foods that are high in purines, meat (mainly pork, beef, lamb, and goat) is ranked the highest. Organ meats, such as kidney, liver, heart, and brain, contain the most amount of purines (serving size 100 grams, purines 444-773 milligrams). If you suffer from gout, you should completely avoid the consumption of meat.
Seafood – it should be avoided as this too contains high levels of purine. Shellfish such as lobster, crab, and shrimp, tuna, sardines, mackerel, herring, salmon, and halibut contain high purine levels.
Beer – drinking alcohol can increase your risk of developing gout and can bring on a sudden attack if you are already a gout sufferer. Alcohol can raise the level of uric acid in the blood in many forms, and so triggering a gout attack. Many beers contain significant amounts of these substances from the fermenting process and alcohol stimulates the production of uric acid by the liver. More importantly, however, alcohol is converted in the body to lactic acid which obstructs the removal of uric acid from the body by the kidneys.
Sweetened foods and beverages – drinks and foods sweetened with fructose (usually seen labeled as corn syrup or glucose-fructose syrup), as well as sweetened soft drinks, raise the risk of developing gout. High-fructose corn syrup can be found in foods, such as = frozen pizzas, bread, yogurt, jarred sauces, cereals and cereal bars, ketchup, mayonnaise and salad dressings. Also, be careful when buying sweetened condiments and jams. Many manufacturers are now using glucose-fructose syrup, as it is cheaper than sugar.
High-purine vegetables – latest studies have shown that vegetables high in purines do not increase the risk of gout or recurring gout attacks. A healthy diet based on lots of vegetables and fruits can include high-purine vegetables, such as spinach, asparagus, peas, cauliflower or mushrooms. You can also eat lentils or beans, which are moderately high in purines but are also an excellent source of protein.
If you suffer from gout, you should:
Consume foods high vitamin C
One interesting aspect of the vegetable and gout research has been the repeated finding that higher consumption of vitamin C can lower the risk of gout. This is achieved by helping to remove uric acid from the body via the kidneys.
Keep yourself hydrated
Drink 8 to 16 (eight-ounce) cups of liquid each day. At least half of the liquid you drink should be water. Liquid can help your body get rid of extra uric acid. Besides, staying hydrated has also been linked with fewer gout attacks.
Being overweight increases the risk of developing gout, and losing weight lowers the risk of gout (if you are overweight, you should lose weight slowly). Research suggests that reducing the number of calories and losing weight, even without a purine-restricted diet, lowers uric acid levels and reduces the number of gout attacks. Furthermore, losing weight also lessens the overall stress on joints.
Note – it is important not to lose weight too quickly because rapid weight loss can increase the amount of uric acid in the human body.
A vegan diet can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Consume plenty of vegetables and fruits, and starchy carbohydrates (these may include potatoes, rice, quinoa, pasta, bread, couscous, barley or oats). It can also provide nutrients and sufficient energy for optimal health and reduce the risk of gout attacks.