Gout is a type of arthritis that is known to occur in approximately 4% of Americans – about 6 million men and 2 million women – and happens as the result of a buildup of uric acid in the body.

Uric acid is the natural end-product of the metabolism of purines, a subclass of proteins that naturally occur in human cells as well as many foods. Uric acid in and of itself isn’t a harmful substance, and in a normal functioning body it’s usually processed by the kidneys and safely eliminated via the urine. For gout sufferers however, the body either produces too much of it, or the kidneys are unable to process it efficiently.

A gout attack is characterized by the onset of intense joint pain, and often afflicts the big toe (in about 50% of cases), although any other joint can be affected. Essentially, uric acid that has accumulated in the body becomes crystalized and takes on the shape of a needle, lodging its way into the joint causing pain, swelling, and inflammation. An attack can recur in the same joint over weeks, months, or years, and repeated episodes of gout can damage the joint.

Gout can be triggered by excessive alcohol consumption, overeating, stress, certain medications, surgery, crash dieting, or injury to a joint.

Although gout has a genetic component to it, diet and lifestyle factors are more likely to be the culprits of this condition for the majority of people.

Diet and Supplement Considerations

• Limit high-purine foods including: meats, organ meats, shellfish, yeast (brewer’s and baker’s), herring, sardines, mackerel, and anchovies. It’s also a good idea to avoid excessive amounts of foods with moderate amounts of purines including: dried legumes, spinach, asparagus, fish, poultry, and mushrooms (although they can be enjoyed moderately).

• Eliminate (or minimize) alcohol consumption, especially beer.

• Eliminate or reduce sugar intake, especially high fructose corn syrup sweetened foods and beverages such as fruit juices and soda.

• Drink liberal amounts of water to keep the urine diluted and promote the elimination of uric acid. Aim for at least 8-10 cups per day.

• Eat a diet higher in water-rich vegetables and fruits, particularly cherries and other berries which are high in antioxidants and inhibit the formation of certain inflammatory compounds.

• Eat tart cherries in all forms – fresh, or as cherry juice, or in the form of tart cherry extract. A study published in Arthritis & Rheumatism evaluated 633 individuals with gout who were treated with cherry extract over a two-day period. This treatment was associated with a 35 percent lower risk of gout attacks.

• Eat celery in all forms – fresh, or as celery juice, or in the form of celery extract which has been shown to reduce uric acid build up in the body.

• Supplement with Proteolytic Enzymes such as Bromelain, a compound found in pineapple, between meals. Proteolytic enzymes are effective anti-inflammatories and can be a suitable alternative to stronger prescription treatment of gout.

• Supplement with fish oil as a preventative strategy. The omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) limits the production of the inflammatory leukotrienes that are involved in much of the inflammation and tissue damage observed in gout.

Murray, Michael, and Pizzorno, Joseph. Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Revised 2nd Edition.
Balch, A. Phyllis. Prescription for Nutritional Healing.

About the Author

Elaine is a Certified Nutritionist and Women’s Health Coach. She works with clients across the globe to help them improve their health and relationship with food. Elaine believes in a real food approach to health that is rooted in optimizing digestion and includes ongoing and intelligent cleansing. You can download her FREE Hip, Healthy & Holistic Makeover Guide to learn 5 simple things you can do every day to lose weight, increase energy, kick cravings, and feel beautiful inside & out.