Processed foods could set off painful gout attacks in ‘minutes’ – what to avoid or limit

Processed foods could set off painful gout attacks in ‘minutes’ – what to avoid or limit

Arthritis describes various common conditions that trigger pain and inflammation in your joints. One of the most painful types of arthritis is gout. Worryingly, dietary choices could lead to painful gout attacks, with certain processed foods acting as a fuel.

Whether you pop a can of a sugary drink open or treat yourself to a greasy takeaway, processed foods can offer the ultimate comfort without minimal effort.

Despite their pleasant taste and affordable cost, these foods might not be the best choice for gout sufferers.

Dr Justine Butler, head of research at Viva!, said: “Gout is a type of arthritis caused by high levels of uric acid in the body. 

“At low levels, uric acid is useful, but when it builds up it can crystallise in the joints and cause severe pain and inflammation.

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“Uric acid is created when the body breaks down compounds, known as purines, found naturally in your body but also in many foods.”

High fructose corn syrup, which is hidden in various processed foods, can also set off this painful process.

Dr Butler said: “Studies show that soft drinks and foods sweetened with high levels of fructose (a naturally occurring sugar found in honey and fruit) may also increase the risk of gout

“As its name implies, the man-made sweetener – high fructose corn syrup – is very high in fructose. 

“As the body breaks down fructose, purines are released and within minutes of consuming high fructose syrup, serum uric acid levels can rise.”

Uric acid can then form crystals in your joints, triggering painful gout attacks.

Veronika Prošek Charvátová, Senior researcher at Viva!, said: “During gout attacks, people experience intense joint pain and often also swelling and redness of the affected joints.

“Gout usually shows up in the big toe joints but can cause intense pain in other toe joints, ankles or knees, too.”

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Despite fructose being the initial trigger, eating whole fruits is still considered safe for people with gout because of the other compounds found in these healthy foods.

Dr Butler said: “Fibre, folate and vitamin C may protect against uric acid build-up. It’s thought that fibre, for example, binds uric acid in the gut for excretion.”

However, the same can’t be said for processed foods that contain high fructose corn syrup.

From candy to soda and fast food to bread, the ingredient can be hidden in various products you buy from the store.

Therefore, the Arthritis Foundation recommends “limiting or avoiding” sugary sodas and processed foods to reduce your risk of gout attacks.

The charity adds: “Once you have the disease, diet should be just one part of your strategy. Medicine should be another.

“If you can control hyperuricemia [high uric acid levels] you can control gout. But it’s a lifelong problem. It doesn’t go away.”

If you’re unsure whether a product contains high fructose corn syrup, you can read the ingredient label for guidance.

Published at Mon, 20 Mar 2023 14:58:00 +0000