Let’s talk about gout and cheese, shall we?
If you have gout and want to eat cheese, don’t despair but also don’t get your hopes too high either.
Gout is a type of arthritis that is caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is a waste product that is created when the body breaks down purines. Purines are found in many foods, including cheese.
So yes, cheese is a dairy product that’s typically associated with gout. But is this “typical association” really true? Just because cheese is commonly thought to aggravate gout symptoms, doesn’t mean that it is actually bad for everyone who has this condition.
In this article, we will discuss gout, what causes it, the symptoms of gout, and as well as provide tips on how to include this dairy product in your diet while still managing your gout symptoms.
What is gout and what are the symptoms?
Gout is a type of arthritis that is caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood. When uric acid crystallizes, it can cause pain and inflammation in the joints.
The symptoms of gout include pain, swelling, and redness in the joints. The most common symptom is intense joint pain that comes on suddenly and can last for days or weeks.
If you have gout, you might also experience:
- Joint stiffness
- Difficulty moving the joint
In some cases, gout can also cause fever and chills. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible.
What are the causes of gout and how is it diagnosed?
There is no one definitive cause for gout, but certain foods and drinks are known to trigger attacks. Alcohol, red meat, and seafood are some of the most common culprits. For people with gout, it is important to avoid these foods as much as possible, generally speaking.
If you suspect you have gout, please get your symptoms diagnosed by a doctor. In some cases, blood tests may also be ordered to check for high levels of uric acid.
Overall, gout is still a relatively rare condition, affecting about 1-2% of the population. However, it is becoming more common as people are eating more processed foods and drinking more sugary drinks.
How does cheese factor into all of this, and is it really bad for people with gout?
As we mentioned earlier, cheese is a dairy product that is typically associated with gout. This is because some cheeses are high in purines, which are known to trigger gout attacks.
However, we also have to remember that lactose intolerance plays a big role in the perception of gout and cheese.
The majority of people are lactose intolerant, so if these people have cheese then they will show similar symptoms to gout.
This is probably a big reason why cheese is commonly believed to be associated with gout.
However, not all cheeses are created equal.
Some cheeses are actually lower in purines than others and may not trigger an attack.
For example, cottage cheese is a type of cheese that is relatively low in purines and is often recommended for people with gout. On the other hand, goat cheese and blue cheese are higher in purines and should be avoided if possible.
In general, it is best to eat aged cheeses rather than fresh ones. Aged cheeses have had time to break down their purines, making them less likely to trigger an attack.
Furthermore, many cheeses are loaded with sugar and are heavily processed. These cheeses will be the worst for gout.
If you do decide to eat cheese, it is important to do so in moderation. Eating too much cheese can still lead to gout attacks, even if the cheese is low in purines, fresh, and relatively unprocessed.
But wait, is cheese actually good for gout?
In fact, there’s some evidence that low fat cheeses and dairy products actually help with gout!
For example, according to the Arthritis Foundation, low-fat milk won’t only help to reduce uric acid levels and the risk of a gout flare, according to studies, it will also aid in the excretion of uric acid in your urine.
So there you have it!
Cheese is not necessarily bad for people with gout, but it is important to eat it in moderation and choose the right types of cheese.
With a little bit of effort, you can still enjoy this dairy product without having to worry about triggering a gout attack. In fact, if you have gout then evidence suggests you should actually consume the right types of cheeses!
List of cheeses good and bad for gout
Above we listed three criteria which can help you evaluate whether a cheese is good or bad for gout.
- Low or high in purines
- Fresh or aged cheese
- Degree of processing (low fat, low sugar = good)
But we really want to emphasize that you can have low fat dairy products, even if you have gout flares.
In fact, while it’s certainly true that cheeses loaded in sugar and fat will exacerbate gout, the opposite is true too. The low fat cheeses will generally be safe and actually help lower uric acid levels
Fortunately there are also a number of low- or no-fat versions of popular cheeses available, including:
- Cream cheese (Neufchatel)
As for the cheeses and dairy products you should avoid?
- Whole fat milk
- Full fat ice cream
- Goat cheese
Again, contrary to popular opinion, gout sufferers should opt for low-purine and low fat dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. Like we said earlier, these types of dairy foods actually decrease uric acid levels and contribute to a healthy diet.
They are an excellent choice for a diet to manage or cure gout because they are low in purines. Reduced-fat dairy items are lower in saturated fat than full-fat counterparts.
Now that we’ve encouraged you to actually eat low fat dairy products if you have gout (and are lactose persistent), let’s talk about what you should actually avoid.
Gout Diet Recommendations
Avoid sweets and sodas
Sweets, treats, and sodas are loaded with sugar. And as we all know, sugar is terrible for gout.
These sugary drinks can lead to weight gain, which is a risk factor for developing gout.
Plus, the high fructose corn syrup in many sodas is also associated with gout attacks.
So if you’re looking to avoid triggering a gout attack, it’s best to steer clear of these sugary beverages.
Limit alcohol consumption
While you don’t have to avoid alcohol altogether, it is important to limit your intake.
Alcohol is a major risk factor for gout, and even moderate drinking can increase the risk of developing this condition.
If you do drink, stick to one or two drinks per day and avoid hard liquor.
And of course, if you’re currently experiencing a gout attack, it’s best to abstain from alcohol entirely until the flare-up has subsided.
Cut back on red meat
Red meat is high in purines, which can increase uric acid levels and trigger a gout attack.
If you love steak and other red meats, simply eat them less often or cut back on the portion size.
There are plenty of other protein-rich foods that are low in purines, such as chicken, fish, tofu, legumes, and eggs. You can also research the best protein supplements for other ways to increase your protein intake, instead of relying on red meat.
These options are all safe for people with gout and can be enjoyed without fear of triggering gout flare ups.
Eat lots of fruits
While fruits do contain sugar, it’s not the processed high fructose corn syrup that can cause gout flare ups.
In fact, fruits are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can actually help reduce the risk of gout.
So load up on fresh or frozen fruits like cherries, blueberries, strawberries, oranges, and grapefruit.
You can also enjoy dried fruits like raisins, apricots, and dates in moderation.
Just be sure to avoid fruit juices as they often contain added sugar, which stimulate uric acid production.
Drink more water
The cause of gout can arise from the buildup of urinated acid. A little water might ease the problem. We’ve all heard the standard 8 cups a day and that’s a good gout diet guideline.
Is peanut butter bad for gout?
The jury is still out on whether or not peanut butter is bad for gout. Some studies suggest that it may actually help protect against gout, while others find that it has no effect.
So far, there is no definitive answer as to whether or not peanut butter is bad for gout. However, if you are concerned about triggering a gout attack, it is best to avoid this food altogether.
There are plenty of other protein-rich foods that are safe for people with gout, such as chicken, fish, tofu, legumes, and eggs. So load up on these instead of peanut butter. And be sure to drink plenty of water to keep your uric acid levels in check.
Is butter bad for gout?
Butter is high in saturated fat, which can increase the risk of gout. Additionally, butter is a dairy product and some people with gout are sensitive to dairy.
If you are concerned about triggering a gout attack, or are at risk of gout, it is best to avoid this food altogether.
There are plenty of other fat-rich foods that are safe for people with gout, such as nuts, olive oil, avocados, and eggs. And again, be sure to drink plenty of water to keep your uric acid levels in check.
If you’re looking to avoid triggering a gout attack, or simply to minimize gout risk, it’s best to steer clear of sweets and sodas, alcohol, red meat, and butter.
Instead, enjoy plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources like chicken and fish, and healthy fats like nuts and olive oil. And be sure to drink plenty of water to keep your uric acid levels in check!
You can even research the best supplements and find one that’s great for you too.
Do you have gout? What foods do you avoid to keep your gout in check? Let us know in the comments below!