Gout and Vegetarians

by Jean Bardot

Following a vegetarian diet may be one of the best things you can do to reduce gout symptoms. Gout forms when uric acid crystals are deposited in the joints, and uric acid is one of the final products of protein breakdown, specifically that of protein found in red meat, other animal fats and shellfish. You may choose vegetarianism or find it by default because of your disease. Regardless of how you arrive at being vegetarian, always talk with your health care practitioner before making drastic changes to your diet.

Protein

Protein breaks down into compounds called purines and further breaks down into uric acid, which builds up in the joints in crystal form, causing gout, according to the "Concise Encyclopedia of Foods and Nutrition." Not all proteins are equal, and those from animals and shellfish are much more likely to cause gout due to their higher levels of purines and their tendency to cause acidosis in the body, says Felicia Drury Kliment in "The Acid-Alkaline Balance." Avoiding these types of proteins works in concert with most levels of vegetarianism, which eschews the consumption of animal products and byproducts.

Vegetarianism Definition

Vegetarians define themselves by assigning different categories to how little or how many animal products they consume, says the Passionate Vegetarian. Vegans eat no animal products or byproducts at all. Lacto-Ovo vegetarians avoid most animal products, but will eat eggs and dairy. Pesce-vegetarians eat fish and may consume eggs and diary. Because so many of these sources can contribute to causing or aggravating gout, it is likely that you may choose lacto-ovo vegetarianism or veganism as a dietary lifestyle to overcome your gout pain.

Foods for Gout Diet

Most vegetarians get their protein needs met by eating legumes/beans, nuts, seeds, seitan and soy-based foods in combination with whole grains. This combination supplies the entire group of necessary amino acids forming complete proteins. In addition, most vegetables and fruits are fine on a vegetarian diet for gout except for a few that are high in purines. These include mushrooms, spinach and asparagus. In general, most gout patients do not have problems with these vegetables, but you should observe how you react when you eat them. If your gout worsens, avoid them. All legumes/beans, nuts and seeds are welcome additions to a vegetarian diet except for black-eyed peas and lentils, which are high in purines. Follow the same guidelines and observe your symptoms when you eat these foods. Healthy fats include avocados, flaxseed and olives, as well as their oils, notes the University of Washington Department of Orthopedics. To round out a balanced vegetarian diet, include whole grains and root vegetables to fulfill your need for complex carbohydrates and fiber, adds the University of Washington.

Fish, Eggs And Dairy

Your beliefs about why you have chosen vegetarianism will dictate whether you add fish, eggs and dairy products to your diet. If your decision is based on the dictates of your illness and you really miss meat, then you might want to include these foods in your menu plan. Most fish does not bother people with gout, even though some fish does have significant levels of purines. If you decide to include dairy products, make them low fat to avoid the effects of animal fats on your gout. Eggs can trigger gout attacks in some people and are completely harmless for others. Essentially, you will have to observe yourself and how you react to various foods to decide how much of a vegetarian you would like to be.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.