A build-up of uric acid in your body can cause gout – a painful form of arthritis in one or more joints, usually the big toe.
Sufferers describe it as feeling like tiny shards crunching.
While there’s no cure, the right diet can help manage the symptoms.
The pain comes from swelling caused by sharp urate crystals that can form when your body either makes too much uric acid or your kidneys excrete too little of it.
Uric acid is a byproduct of the breakdown of purines – chemical compounds found naturally in your body, as well as in certain foods and drinks.
By cutting down on these items, or avoiding them altogether, you can reduce uric acid levels in your blood, and ideally, eliminate the need for medications to treat your gout, says the German Nutrition Society (DGE).
Purines are found mainly in meat, sausage products and certain seafood, such as herring, trout and sardines.
Shellfish and offal are especially high in purines, so the DGE advises gout sufferers to completely strike them from their diet.
In particular, it recommends a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet, which means avoiding fish and meat.
Eggs and dairy products are allowed, however, and the bulk of the diet comprises plenty of vegetables, fruit, cereal products and potatoes.
But lentils should only be eaten in moderation, warns the consumer advice centre in the German state of Bavaria, pointing out that they’re high in purines.
The DGE also recommends drinking three litres of fluid a day, unless there’s a medical reason not to.
This will help your body to excrete a lot of uric acid in your urine.
You shouldn’t drink more than just a little beer though, because it has high purine levels.
Juices and fizzy drinks with fruit sugar (fructose) or high-fructose corn syrup are bad choices too, as fructose can elevate uric acid levels in your blood.
On a positive note, the DGE says that drinking coffee or tea presents no problems for gout patients. – dpa