Manage gout by reducing uric acid levels

Gout is an acute form of arthritis that causes severe pain and swelling in the joints. It most commonly affects the big toe, but can also affect the ankle, hand, wrist, or elbow.

Lowering your uric acid level through diet can help you to manage gout more effectively. As gout attacks can generally last for up to five days, it is worth your while to familiarise yourself with – and follow – the proper dietary advice, besides taking any medication that was prescribed to you,” says Dr Tan York Kiat, Senior Consultant from the Department of Rheumatology and Immunology at Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group.

Reduce intake of high-purine foods to prevent gout attacks

Gout attacks occur when there is a high level of uric acid in the blood. This can cause crystals of uric acid to settle in the joints. As uric acid accumulates with the breakdown of foods containing purine, it is important to reduce the intake of foods high in purine.

Foods high in purine – restrict your intake

  • Asparagus, cauliflower, mushroom
  • Oatmeal, wheat bran and wheat germ
  • Red meat

Foods highest in purine – abstain completely, if possible

Meat extracts

  • Broths, meat stocks and gravies
  • Chicken essence
  • Bak kut teh

Certain fish or shellfish

  • Salmon, herring, mackerel, prawn
  • Anchovies (ikan bilis), sardines, fish roe
  • Cockles, mussels, scallops

Certain fruits and vegetables

  • Spinach, peas
  • Strawberries (& strawberry jam)
  • Durian

Beans and legumes

  • Peanuts, bean cake, moon cake

All internal organs of animals and birds

  • Liver, kidney, brain

Also, reduce your consumption of alcoholic beverages if you are prone to gout attacks.

“It is important to drink adequate water to help flush out the uric acid, unless you have some contra-indication,” adds Dr Tan York Kiat.

Gout is becoming increasingly common

About 4.1 per cent of Singaporeans suffer from gout, according to the Singapore Chinese Health Study, which was carried out with 52,322 participants (mean age of 62 years old). The mean age at diagnosis was 55 years.

The disease manifested at a mean age of 44 years, and as early as 16 years, in another local study of 100 gout patients seen in a public hospital.

“Gout appears to be getting more and more common, and there seems to be a worldwide trend towards gout patients getting younger,” says Dr Warren Fong, a Senior Consultant, also from the SGH Department of Rheumatology and Immunology.

Men are more at risk of gout than women. However, after menopause, women’s risk increases.

What is worrying is that gout is associated with a host of conditions. In one study, the majority of patients had at least one associated disease. The most common one was high blood pressure (hypertension), followed by high cholesterol, kidney disease, heart disease and diabetes.

Ref: N18

Check out our other gout articles:

Got Gout? Best Foods to Eat

Gout: Causes, Symptoms and Risk Factors

Gout: Diagnosis and Treatment

Gout: Diet Tips and How to Manage Future Attacks