7 Lifestyle Changes for Avoiding Gout Flare-ups

March 08, 2023

If you want to avoid gout flare-ups, here are some lifestyle changes that you can adopt for a healthier you.

Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that can cause inflammation in one or more joints. It occurs when levels of uric acid in the blood rise, which later builds up and turns into tiny, sharp crystals that form around the joints.

7 Lifestyle Changes for Avoiding Gout Flare-ups
Photo by Ella Olsson

7 Lifestyle Changes for Avoiding Gout Flare-ups

    Anyone who has gout knows how painful flare-ups can be. Typically, these get better over a week or so; in worse cases, however, they might need to use crutches to get around. If you’ve experienced anything close to this kind of gout flare-up, you understand that it can be very uncomfortable to the point that it can get in the way of your daily activities at home and work.

    Fortunately, you can reduce the chances of gout attacks through certain lifestyle changes. Aside from exercising and eating healthily, here are some other ways to avoid gout attacks:

    Maintain a Healthy Weight

    Obesity is often linked to gout because a higher BMI can lead to excessive production of uric acid. Also, obesity is accompanied by insulin resistance. This reduces the volume of uric acid excreted through urine. With a higher concentration of uric acid in your body, you’re more prone to having gout attacks. This is why it’s important to maintain a healthy weight if you want to manage gout.

    Exercise Regularly

    In relation to the previous point, regularly exercising can help you lose extra pounds and maintain your ideal weight. Staying active also helps avoid gout attacks because the physical activity helps reduce the fat in your body, which carries more uric acid.

    In addition to helping you lose weight, exercising can help strengthen your muscles. While this may not directly reduce gout flare-ups, it can protect the affected joints from the wear and tear that accompany painful attacks.

    Reduce Purines in Your Diet

    Uric acid is created when the body breaks down purines from food. Therefore, if you want to avoid gout flare-ups, it’s best to limit your consumption of these purine-rich foods:

    • Red meat like beef or lamb
    • Organ and glandular meats, like liver and kidney
    • Certain types of seafood, like sardines, tuna, scallops, lobster, crab, and other shellfish
    • Some vegetables, including mushrooms, cauliflower, and asparagus
    • Salty foods and sauces

    Shift to a Healthier Diet

    Shifting to a low-purine diet can help reduce gout attacks. If you want better and lasting results, however, you should eat healthier foods in general. Replace high-calorie and high-fat foods with options that provide complex carbohydrates, like whole grains. Also, increase your intake of fruits and vegetables.

    When it comes to meat, fish, and poultry, stay within a daily limit of no more than 4 to 6 ounces. You can also change your protein source by eating low-fat dairy products, which can help lower the uric acid levels in your body.

    Finally, it’s a good idea to stay away from sugary drinks and foods like sweetened cereals, baked goods, candies, and soda. Consuming these foods can increase your chances of weight gain and may also put you at risk of more frequent gout attacks.

    Limit Drinking Alcoholic Beverages

    While excessive alcohol consumption has been associated with increasing the risk of developing gout and recurring flare-ups, it’s unclear how exactly they’re connected. A plausible explanation is that excessive drinking can lead to obesity. There are also some alcoholic beverages, particularly beer, that have a higher purine content. This can explain why drinking can increase your risk of gout flare-ups.

    Just to be on the safe side, it’s best to limit drinking alcoholic beverages if you have gout. It’s also a good idea to forego liquor altogether, especially when you already notice an increased occurrence of flare-ups whenever you drink. This way, you can better manage the symptoms.

    Increase Your Water Intake

    Drinking plenty of water can keep gout flare-ups at bay because water helps flush out excess uric acid from your body and prevent recurrent gout attacks. Also, increasing your water intake can lower the risk of uric acid buildup that eventually turn into urate crystal deposits in the joints. As such, you are less likely to experience gout flare-ups when you keep yourself hydrated.

    Consult Your Doctor About Your Medications, If You Have Any

    If you have chronic diseases, it may be possible that the medications you’re taking to manage them are the reason for your gout flare-ups. Many drugs created to control high blood pressure contain diuretics. These substances help increase the amount of salt in your body by releasing more sodium into your urine.

    While this action can lower your blood pressure, it may also dehydrate you and thus increase the risk of gout attacks. So, if you’re taking a diuretic and are experiencing frequent gout flare-ups, talk to your doctor. Ask if you can switch to a different medication that will help manage all your symptoms.

    Making lifestyle changes such as losing weight, eating healthier, and limiting your alcohol consumption can lower the uric acid concentration in your blood. While doing these may not completely treat your gout, they can help decrease the frequency and manage the severity of the flare-ups. If you continue to experience frequent or painful gout attacks, talk to your doctor about the treatment that's best for you.

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