January 2, 2022

6 Truths About Gout Diet Myths

What you should and shouldn't eat to avoid flare-ups

Person holding a bowl

Diet myths about gout run deep. It was once known as the “disease of kings” because people associated it with the rich diets of the wealthy — but if you’ve had gout, you know the experience isn’t so regal.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

The truth is much more complicated, however. Up to 4% of American adults have gout each year, and rising rates of obesity increase our risk. But don’t believe everything you hear when it comes to diet advice and gout. Diet matters — but not always in the way you think. Rheumatologist Scott Burg, DO, shares more insight into this common affliction.

1. Should I avoid all rich foods?

No. “Patients often ask me about desserts, as well as entrees with rich sauces,” says Dr. Burg. It’s a common myth that these foods cause gout. When eaten in moderation, desserts and other rich foods do not affect gout flare-ups. But “moderation” is the key word. Rich foods might not cause flare-ups directly, but they can cause weight gain. And obesity is a major risk factor for gout attacks.

“At some point, the misconception spread that people with gout should avoid dairy. But in fact, certain dairy products — especially milk — can help you remove uric acid from your body,” Dr. Burg adds.

2. Is high fructose corn syrup a problem?

Yes, absolutely. High-fructose corn syrup is a known factor for gout flare-ups because it raises uric acid levels in your body. It’s also used in far more pre-packaged and processed foods than you might think. When you’re grocery shopping, always check nutrition labels. If corn syrup is an ingredient in a product, don’t buy it.

Advertisement

3. Do acidic foods lead to high uric acid?

No. Acidic foods such as tomatoes, citrus and other fruits, beans and dairy products do not necessarily lead to higher uric acid levels. People often assume they do simply because of the word “acid,” but acidic foods and uric acid are not one and the same.

4. Do I need to stop eating meat if I have gout?

“No, but practice moderation,” Dr. Burg reiterates. Avoid organ meats such as liver, though, because they have higher levels of purines, which can cause flare-ups. Moderate intake of lean meats such as chicken and turkey should not affect your condition. Seafood such as shrimp and lobster tends to be higher in purines, as well, so don’t make them a regular part of your diet.

5. Can I still eat dairy with gout?

Yes. At some point, the misconception spread that people with gout should avoid dairy. But in fact, certain dairy products — especially milk — can help you remove uric acid from your body. In other words, dairy tends to help rather than hurt people with gout.

6. Do I need to stop drinking alcohol with gout?

Yes, it’s a good idea to cut out alcohol. Alcohol molecules in your body tend to increase uric acid levels, so drinking can push you over the edge and into a flare-up. If you’re newly diagnosed and start taking medication, try cutting out alcohol at first. Your doctor may allow you to add a small amount back into your diet over time as your uric acid levels come down. “But even then, it’s best to avoid beer and liquor and stick to safer choices such as red wine,” Dr. Burg says.

Advertisement

All myths aside, the best advice for people with gout is to eat fresh, unprocessed foods. Choose complex carbohydrates (from fruits, for example) over refined carbs from packaged or processed foods. And always drink plenty of water because dehydration is a risk factor for an acute attack.

Related Articles

Various cuts of red meat displayed
February 14, 2024
Is Red Meat Bad for You?

It has nutrients your body needs, but it also comes with some serious health risks

Meal prepping various dishes for snack, lunch and dinner
January 29, 2024
75 Healthy Meal Prep Ideas for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

No more scrambling to figure out what to eat during your busy week

Display of various types of foods prepped in individual containers
January 15, 2024
A Beginner’s Guide to Healthy Meal Prep

Set yourself up for success by carefully choosing your recipes, storage containers and prepping day

Closeup of roasted garlic tomato zucchini bake on a stoneware plate with grated cheese garnish
January 3, 2024
Recipe: Roasted Garlic, Zucchini and Tomato Bake

A colorful side dish to brighten any meal

cool tropical smoothie with straw
November 29, 2023
Recipe: Cool Tropical Smoothie

A zesty thirst-quencher that’s dairy-free and vegan

skillet of ground turkey stroganoff
November 27, 2023
Recipe: Healthy Turkey Stroganoff

A hearty dish that’s easy to put together

Overhead closeup of cauliflower pseudo mashed potatoes in a bowl on a wooden table.
November 20, 2023
Recipe: Cauliflower Mashed Pseudo Potatoes

A creamy mashed cauliflower that’s sure to please

cranberry sauce with pecans on top
November 13, 2023
Recipe: Cinnamon Cranberry Sauce

Impress your Thanksgiving guests with this homemade treat!

Trending Topics

close up of keto gummies
Do Keto Gummies Work for Weight Loss? Are They Safe?

Research is inconclusive whether or not these supplements are helpful

Person in yellow tshirt and blue jeans relaxing on green couch in living room reading texts on their phone.
Here’s How Many Calories You Naturally Burn in a Day

Your metabolism may torch 1,300 to 2,000 calories daily with no activity

Older person postioned sideways showing dowager hump.
Dowager’s Hump: What It Is and How To Get Rid of It

The hump at the base of your neck may be caused by osteoporosis or poor posture

Ad