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What's the Link Between a High-Protein Diet and Gout?

What's the Link Between a High-Protein Diet and Gout?

When you think of arthritis, you likely picture gnarled knuckles and creaky knees worn down by use and old age. However, not all types of arthritis are the same.

Gout is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis in the US, affecting over 9 million people. Rather than autoimmune conditions and wear-and-tear, gout develops at the hands of specific dietary choices. 

Gout is also the only curable type of arthritis. 

Because gout tends to crop up in your feet, experienced podiatrist Dr. Maurice Aiken is taking some time to walk through the finer points of this disease and help you understand your treatment options. 

What causes gout?

Gout develops when too much uric acid is in your blood, which grows into a buildup of fluid in your joints and eventually becomes uric acid crystals. These crystals trigger swelling, inflammation, and intense pain. 

So, how did all that uric acid wind up in your bloodstream? The most likely reason is that you eat a high-protein diet. Here’s a closer look.

Why does a high-protein diet often lead to gout?

Animal proteins are packed with chemical compounds called purines. Your body breaks purines down into uric acid; normally, uric acid dissolves in your blood or passes through your kidney into the urine. 

When your kidneys can’t flush out uric acid fast enough because there’s such a steady supply of purines from your diet, uric acid builds up in your blood, and gout becomes a matter of when not if. 

Do I have to give up protein completely?

You don’t have to say goodbye to steak and bacon forever, but if you have gout or are at an increased risk, you do have to modify your diet. A gout-friendly diet helps control uric acid levels in your body while providing a well-rounded diet. 

Seafood and red meat are notorious for high levels of purines, so you should do your best to avoid and limit:

To keep gout in check, stick to the recommended serving size of three ounces for meat and four ounces for fish. You can eat animal proteins that have fewer purines in moderation, including:

Remember that meat isn’t the only way to get your daily dose of protein. Plant-based proteins, such as legumes, tofu, and quinoa, are significant for the gout-prone to get a balanced diet. 

A note on other diet threats

Animal proteins aren’t the only threats to your joint health. Sugary beverages, refined carbohydrates, and alcohol can also take their toll. 

Alcohol disrupts your body’s ability to remove uric acid. High intake of sugary foods also affects uric acid levels in your blood and is also linked to obesity, which is a risk factor for gout. 

What can I do to manage and avoid gout?

The best place to start is with your diet. We recommend eating a low-purine diet to keep uric acid levels in check. Your meals should include:

Regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can also go a long way in keeping your joints healthy and eliminating gout symptoms. 

The bottom line

Gout is the only type of arthritis with light at the end of the tunnel, but it takes work to get there. Dr. Aiken and our Bay Breeze Foot & Ankle team are standing by to help you make the necessary lifestyle and diet choices to keep gout and its painful symptoms at bay. 

If you’d like more information about gout, call our friendly staff at 727-285-9684 or use our online booking tool to schedule an appointment at our Dunedin, Florida, office today.

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