Eating & lifestyle advice for gout
While medications can be important in treating your gout, improving your eating habits and lifestyle can also help. You may be able to make several lifestyle changes that will improve your symptoms.
Stay a healthy weight
Being overweight increases your risk of gout. If you’re overweight, losing weight can help lower your risk of gout attacks. If you choose to lose weight, take it slowly. Losing 1 or 2 kg a month is fine. Avoid losing weight quickly, as it can actually increase your uric acid level and trigger a gout attack. Eat three small to moderate meals each day and one or two healthy snacks in between. Don’t skip meals or go too long without eating, as this can trigger a gout attack.
Keeping active can help prevent gout. Aim to be active for at least 30 minutes on most days. Wear supportive, well-fitting shoes, because hurting your foot could trigger a gout attack.
Alcohol increases the uric acid in your blood and increases your risk of gout. Beer and spirits seem to cause more of a problem than wine does. If you do choose to drink alcohol, limit it to one to two standard drinks a day and have at least two alcohol-free days every week. A standard drink is a 330 ml bottle of beer, a 100 ml glass of wine, or a 30 ml nip of spirits. During a gout attack, it’s best to avoid all alcohol.
Limit sugary drinks and foods
These may increase your risk of gout attacks and can make you gain weight, which can make gout worse.
We highly recommend you:
Limit high-purine foods
Purines are substances in foods such as meat, chicken and fish. Your body breaks purines down into uric acid, which may increase your risk of gout.
Limit the amount of meat, chicken or fish you eat to a serving the size and thickness of the palm of your hand. To get enough protein, include some lower-purine foods such as eggs, low-fat milk, low-fat yoghurt, cheese, nuts, legumes (cooked dried beans, peas and lentils) and tofu.
Some people find it helpful to limit foods that are very high in purines. These include:
- organ meats such as kidney and liver (including pate)
- seafood such as anchovies, herrings, mackerel, sardines, mussels, prawns, shrimps, scallops, whitebait, paua, oysters, and fish roe
- yeast extracts such as Marmite and Vegemite
- meat extracts such as Bovril.
Drink low-fat milk
Have at least two to three servings of low-fat milk or milk products, such as yoghurt, each day. One serving is 1 cup (250 ml) of milk or one pottle (150 g) of yoghurt.
Having low-fat milk products regularly can help to lower your uric acid levels and your risk of a gout attack.
Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit
Have at least five servings of vegetables and fruit a day. A serving is what fits into the palm of your hand. Vegetables and fruit contain vitamin C, which may help to lower your uric acid level and your risk of a gout attack. But tomatoes can raise the uric acid in your blood and increase your risk of a gout attack. If you notice that tomatoes cause gout attacks you may find it helpful to avoid them.
Drink coffee in moderation
Drinking coffee may help to lower your uric acids levels and your risk of gout. But for general health, if you choose to drink coffee, limit it to four to five cups of instant coffee or three shots of espresso a day.
Drink plenty of fluid
Having too much uric acid in your urine can increase your risk of kidney stones. Make sure to drink enough fluid every day to keep your urine a light straw colour. This helps to dilute the uric acid in your urine and helps to prevent kidney stones. Aim for at least eight cups of fluid a day (water is best). You may need more depending on your weight, how hot the weather is, and how much exercise you do.
Individual foods that trigger gout are different for everyone. Take note of any foods that cause a gout attack then eat less of these foods or avoid them altogether.