Gout Diet Guide: How to reduce your risk of painful flare-ups

Historically gout was known as the ‘disease of kings’ because of it’s association with their luxurious diet, rich in delicacies. Today scientists know that there is more to gout than just what you eat and drink, but your diet still plays a significant role. In this article we will look at what you should eat and what you should avoid when it comes to gout. So you can make practical changes to reduce your risk of this nasty condition.

Gout Diet Guide

What is gout?

Gout is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis; it is especially common in New Zealand for people of Māori and Pasifika heritage. Gout is a very painful condition; it occurs when there are high levels of uric acid in your blood which cause crystals to form in and around a joint.

Uric acid is a waste product produced during the breakdown of chemicals called purines which are found both naturally in the body and in certain foods and drinks. Purine is needed by your body to make new cells. Typically, most uric acid dissolves in your blood, then goes to your kidneys and finally is passed when you urinate. However, if your kidneys can’t remove uric acid fast enough it you may develop hyperuricemia or high levels of uric acid.

If you have hyperuricemia there is a risk that urate crystals can build up in and around your joints. Having these crystals form in joints is often called a gout attack or flare-up, and it will usually cause sudden inflammation, stiffness, and severe pain. Symptoms are often described as similar to osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis and may last days or weeks.

How can your diet affect gout?

Gout has many causes some of which are out of our control. For example, in New Zealand, most men with Māori and Pasifika genetics have genes that stop their kidneys getting rid of uric acid in their urine. However gout is also linked to purines, which can be found in certain foods and drinks.


This means that your diet can have direct affect on the levels of uric acid in your blood. While purine is needed by the body to produce new cells, if you consume a lot of food high in purines you can be at greater risk of gout flare-ups.  

While a gout friendly diet isn’t a cure, it can decrease uric acid levels in the blood, which may lower the risk of gout flare-ups and the pain that comes with them.

What foods should you avoid?

Trying to lower the amount of high-purine food you eat is good practice if you are at risk of gout flare-ups. If you are experiencing a gout flare-up it is best to try avoiding these foods entirely.


  • Red Meat: including beef, lamb and pork.
  • Game meats: like venison and duck.
  • Offal/Organ meat: liver, kidney, and heart.
  • Certain fish: some fish are high in purine e.g., herring, anchovy, tuna, sardines, etc.
  • Shellfish: such as shrimp, scallops and mussels.


People with gout should also avoid foods high in fructose, especially high fructose corn syrup a man-made sweetener. When fructose is broken down, purines are released which in turn produce uric acid. Therefore, you should also avoid high sugar, processed foods such as fizzy drinks and sweets.


Alcohol should be limited too as it can prevent your kidneys from getting rid of uric acid.

What foods are good for a gout-friendly diet?

There are plenty of low-purine foods that you can eat:


  • Low-fat and nondairy-fat products like skim-milk, plant-milk, and yoghurt.
  • Nuts, nut butters, and healthy grains.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables, especially fruits high in vitamin C which helps prevent attacks.
  • Certain lean proteins are fine in moderation, like chicken and some fish.
  • Coffee in moderation may help reduce your risk of gout flare-ups.
  • Vitamin C supplementation may help lower your uric acid levels.
  • Cherries have been found to reduce risk of gout attacks.

Managing gout at home

By making changes to your diet, you can lower the risk of future gout flare-ups. At home test kits are also available to monitor your uric acid levels. You should always speak to your doctor if you are concerned about gout or believe you are suffering gout flare-ups. They can diagnose gout and prescribe medications to help you manage the symptoms of gout. Over-the-counter pain medications can be used to relieve pain and inflammation too.



Further reading:

  1. Gout Education Society: Gout Diet & Lifestyle