Keep Summer Sizzle on the Barbeque, Not in the Joints

July 12, 2011

Summer is the season for enjoying a sizzling steak, perhaps accompanied by some grilled asparagus and a frosty tankard of beer. For most, this quintessential summer meal would provide a delicious ending to a busy day, but for patients with gout, it is a recipe for hot, burning joints.

Summer is the season for enjoying a sizzling steak, perhaps accompanied by some grilled asparagus and a frosty tankard of beer. For most, this quintessential summer meal would provide a delicious ending to a busy day, but for patients with gout, it is a recipe for hot, burning joints.

  A number of foods have been fingered as triggers of gout. The high purine content of the foods listed below are metabolized into crystals of uric acid that settle into the joints, causing the inflammation, swelling, and exquisite tenderness that characterize gout:

• Red meat
• Poultry
• Organ meats
• Beans: lentils
• Asparagus
• Mushrooms
• Spinach
• Seafood: shellfish, sardines, mackerel, anchovies, herring
• Yeast
• Beer

The connection between alcohol intake and gout is significant. Recent evidence suggests that drinking 2 to 4 beers a week increases the risk of gout by 25%, according to James Rouse, ND. The risk increases to 200% for persons who down 2 beers a day and drops to 60% for those who prefer mixed drinks. Evidently, oenophiles can sip away to their heart’s content without concern for their big toes. (See “Gout flare-ups? Foods, supplements, and treatments for relief” at http://life.gaiam.com/article/gout-flare-ups-foods-supplements-treatments-relief.) To proactively reduce the chances for a gouty flare, Dr Rouse, a naturopathic physician, recommends avoiding foods that are high in purine and including foods with antioxidants-found in blueberries, cherries, and raspberries-in the diet.

Drinking 8 to 16 cups of fluid daily helps reduce the concentration of uric acid in the blood. Half of this should be water and some of it can be coffee, which may act to reduce uric acid levels (Mayo Clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/gout/DS00090). Persons who have gout can get protein into their diet by eating low-fat dairy products, which may confer some protection against gout (Mayo Clinic).