According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 5 adults in the United States have been diagnosed by a doctor with arthritis. That’s about 52.5 million people who experience joint stiffness, swelling and pain that can make even the most routine activities difficult.
Arthritis is the commonly known condition associated with inflammation of the joints, but there are more than 100 rheumatic diseases and conditions that fall under the umbrella of arthritis. These conditions affect the joints, the tissues surrounding the joint and other connective tissue.
Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis triggered by the crystallization of uric acid within the joints, and is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis in men. Gout can be chronic and last for months, or come on suddenly in the form of a flare-up and last for days.
There are a few non-modifiable risk factors for gout such as sex, age, race and genetics, but other factors, such as lifestyle and diet, can be controlled. If you are prone to gout, your diet and the foods you eat, or do not eat, play a key role in keeping your joints pain-free. Below is a list of foods to avoid if you are trying to prevent gout, or heal from a flare-up.
Purine rich foods including meat, seafood and some vegetables increase the risk of developing gout. Purines are natural substances found in all of the body’s cells, and in almost all foods. As our cells die and recycle themselves, the purines break down into uric acid. When too much uric acid accumulates, uric acid crystals develop and deposit in our tendons, joints, kidneys, and other organs, causing gout.
- High-purine meats: white meat like chicken or duck is generally better than red mean. Choose beef or pork rather than lamb or turkey
- High-purine seafood: scallops, herring, tuna, and anchovies
- High-purine vegetables: asparagus, cauliflower, spinach, and mushrooms
Most of us are familiar with omega-3 fatty acids, which contain anti-inflammatory properties that help in the treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. But omega-6 fatty acids are more commonly found in the foods we eat. While a sufficient amount of omega 6 fatty acid is good, large amounts can be harmful and lead to inflammation. Some foods with omega-6 fatty acids to avoid include safflower, corn, soybean and sunflower seeds.
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol is not only one way to pack on extra pounds, but a comparison study done between alcoholic and nonalcoholic beer found that the uric acid levels in the blood increased with beer consumption. Not only does beer increase uric-acid level, but beer also makes it more difficult for your body to clear it from your system.
Similar to beer, sugary drinks containing high-fructose corn syrup can increase the amount of uric acid and lactic levels and decreases uric acid elimination. Fructose is also linked to increased risk of diabetes and heart disease, and releases cytokines, which trigger inflammation.
After reading this list, you may be asking yourself, “What can I eat to prevent and control inflammation?” A good rule of principle is moderation.
Some items to consider incorporating into your diet to curb inflammation are non-fat dairy products, which have been shown to lower urate from an anti-inflammatory standpoint. Due to its diuretic features, coffee can also decrease uric acid levels in the body. To prevent dehydration and lower the concentration of uric acid crystals, drink at least six to eight 8-ounce servings of water a day.
About Dr. Olufade
Oluseun Olufade, MD, is board certified in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Sports Medicine and Interventional Pain Medicine. He completed fellowship training in both Sports Medicine and Interventional Pain Medicine. During his fellowship training, he was a team physician for Philadelphia Union, a major league soccer (MLS) team, Widener University Football team and Interboro High School Football team. He joined the nationally-ranked Emory Orthopaedic & Spine Center in 2013.
Dr. Olufade employs a comprehensive approach in the treatment of sports-related injuries and spinal disorders by integrating physical therapy, orthotic prescription and minimally invasive procedures. He specializes also in soccer medicine, concussion, tendinopathies, platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections and chronic exertional compartment syndrome. He performs procedures such as fluoroscopic-guided spine injections and ultrasound guided peripheral joint injections. Dr. Olufade individualizes his treatment plans with a focus on functional restoration. He sees patient primarily in our Dunwoody and Johns Creek locations.