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Diet changes to prevent gout flare-ups

WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

By not including certain foods in your diet, you can help reduce the chances of a flare-up of gout.

What is gout?

Having too much uric acid in your bloodstream can lead to a form of arthritis known as gout. Purine is a type of protein found in many foods and all of your cells. When it is broken down, purine forms uric acid as a waste product. If the levels of uric acid are too high for prolonged periods, needle-shaped crystals can form in the tissues around your joints, causing painful swelling.

What evidence supports diet changes to prevent a flare-up of gout?

A number of factors increase the risk of gout, one of them being a diet rich in purine, though this link has been mostly established through observation rather than scientific research.

However, research published in 2012 looked at more than 600 people with gout over the course of a year. The participants were asked what they had eaten in the 2 days before their most recent flare-up of gout. The researchers took into consideration other factors such as the amount of alcohol the participants drank and any medications they took.

The researchers found that the people who had eaten the most purine-rich foods were over four times more likely to have a flare-up of gout than those who consumed the least amount. They also found that the risk depended on what type of purine the participants consumed. Meat-based purine was more strongly linked to a flare-up than plant-based purine. People who had the most animal-based purine were twice as likely to have a flare-up as those who had the lowest amount of animal-based purine, and people who had the most plant-based purine were 40% more likely to have a flare-up than those who ate the least amount of plant-based purine.

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