10 Ways to Avoid a Gout Flare-Up

Gout—if you've had it once, you don't want to have it again. Luckily, this painful joint condition can often be avoided, if you're careful. We've got 10 tips to help you avoid a gout recurrence. 

"Gout is a kind of arthritis that occurs when uric acid builds up in blood and causes joint inflammation," according to the National Institutes of Health. Uric acid is a byproduct leftover after the body metabolizes substances called purines, which are present in certain foods and drinks. Most of the time, purines pass out of the body in urine, but when the body gets too much or can't get rid of it properly, the result is gout. 

The NIH says there are two types of gout:

  • Acute gout is a painful condition that typically affects one joint.
  • Chronic gout is repeated episodes of pain and inflammation, which may involve more than one joint.

Since one attack is bad enough, here's how to dial down recurrent episodes:

1. Avoid alcohol, especially beer and wine and never indulge in binge drinking. 

2. Avoid purine-rich foods or eat them sparingly. These include:

  • anchovies
  • sardines
  • organ meats (liver, kidney, brain, heart, sweetbreads)
  • beans
  • peas
  • soybeans
  • mushrooms
  • spinach
  • asparagus
  • cauliflower
  • yeast (baker's and brewer's)
  • gravies
  • consommés
  • poultry

3. Talk to a nutritionist or dietician to help you design a diet that does not include purine rich foods but still includes all the nutrients you need. 

4. Reduce your meat intake. Many types of fish are low in purine.

5. Avoid fatty foods such as salad dressings, ice cream, and fried foods.

6. Eat enough carbohydrates, which include fruits and vegetables and whole grains.

7. Lose weight, but don't go on an extreme weight loss diet. Quick weight loss is associated with uric acid kidney stone formation. Traditional weight loss programs that include a sensible goal of one to two pounds per week plus exercise are considered the safest. 

8. Drink lots of water. Plain, clear water does the best job of helping your body flush uric acid out of your system.

9. Make sleep a priority to allow your body adequate time for rest and cell recovery.

10. Reduce stress by simplifying your lifestyle, practicing meditation or yoga, and being mindful of personal and professional issues that might be exacerbating your stress levels. Stress is associated with inflammation and development of many health complications.

If you do get recurrent gout attacks, contact your doctor at the first sign of symptoms. He may be able to prescribe medications to keep it from becoming severe and advise you on appropriate pain medication use and other treatment options. 


National Institutes of Health