What is the Connection Between Purines and Gout?

Erin J. Hill
Erin J. Hill
Foods like mushrooms can increase purines in the body, which may lead to gout.
Foods like mushrooms can increase purines in the body, which may lead to gout.

Purines and gout are heavily linked because gout is caused by uric acid which is a chemical byproduct of the breaking down of purines found in food. All proteins contain purines and they are an important part of the muscles within the body. Gout occurs when they are broken down ineffectively or when the kidneys have a hard time breaking down any excess uric acid.

Tofu can help reduce the amount of uric acid in the body.
Tofu can help reduce the amount of uric acid in the body.

Since most medical doctors link purines and gout, it is often recommended that patients avoid high purine foods. This is not always recommended, however, since high protein foods are important for proper cell regeneration and muscle growth. The key is to eat foods which are especially high in purines in moderation. Some meats and certain vegetables are higher in them than others, although choosing options which are heart healthy is also important.

Eating more salmon can help reduce pain from purines and gout.
Eating more salmon can help reduce pain from purines and gout.

Purines and gout symptoms may rise in correlation to one another, but there are other methods of preventing flare ups aside from cutting out all protein. Some foods have been shown to reduce the amount of uric acid in the body. These include dark berries, fatty fish like salmon, and tofu. Eating these foods in higher quantities may help alleviate pain associated with purines and gout.

Uric acid is involved in the development of gout.
Uric acid is involved in the development of gout.

Medication can also be beneficial in the treatment of gout. Once a proper diagnosis has been made, a variety of drugs can be used. Anti-inflammatory medications are the most common as well as pain relievers. Gout normally affects one joint at a time and often begins in the big toe. There is no cure but it can be effectively treated.

Purines are necessary for the body’s proper functioning, so they should not be avoided altogether. That said, those who normally eat very high amounts of purine rich foods should cut down under a doctor’s supervision. Purines are also especially high in livers and other organs, anchovies, spinach, yeast, alcohol, mushrooms, and cauliflower. Since many of these foods are also high in nutrients, substitutes without as many purines should be found.

A dietitian teaches patients with gout which meats are higher in purines.
A dietitian teaches patients with gout which meats are higher in purines.

Patients should not attempt to cut out entire food groups, especially without first consulting a dietitian or doctor. This could lead to deficiencies in key nutrients and vitamins necessary for proper bodily function. A registered dietitian or nutritionist can help gout patients determine a proper eating and nutrition plan.

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    • Foods like mushrooms can increase purines in the body, which may lead to gout.
      Foods like mushrooms can increase purines in the body, which may lead to gout.
    • Tofu can help reduce the amount of uric acid in the body.
      Tofu can help reduce the amount of uric acid in the body.
    • Eating more salmon can help reduce pain from purines and gout.
      Eating more salmon can help reduce pain from purines and gout.
    • Uric acid is involved in the development of gout.
      Uric acid is involved in the development of gout.
    • A dietitian teaches patients with gout which meats are higher in purines.
      A dietitian teaches patients with gout which meats are higher in purines.
    • Sardines, because they are a source of purines, can aggravate gout.
      Sardines, because they are a source of purines, can aggravate gout.
    • Fatty foods should be avoided on a low-purine diet, since gout can increase the risk of heart disease.
      Fatty foods should be avoided on a low-purine diet, since gout can increase the risk of heart disease.