“Eat your fruit and vegetables!”

That’s the answer you’d typically receive if you asked someone how to eat a healthy diet.

While vegetables are an easy “yes, correct”, fruits are a little trickier – especially when it comes to gout sufferers.

Because fruit it always tagged with being “healthy” by default, it often gets past inspection without much effort when someone looks at their diet.

However, fruit can be a double-edged sword.

There are many positive attributes to fruit which are great for gout sufferers, however the substance that gives fruits their delicious taste could be having a negative impact on your ability to keep gout at bay.

Let’s take a look at what makes up most fruits…

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The Good

Vitamin C

Most fruit can have a positive effect on the diet for gout sufferers due to the high levels of vitamin C which has been shown to be beneficial in lowering uric acid levels 1.

Fruits high in Vitamin C include (but are not limited to) oranges, lemons, strawberries, blackcurrants, guava and kiwifruit.

Potassium

Potassium plays a part in many of your body’s metabolism functions including fluid regulation, reducing blood pressure and bone health.

People who eat a sodium-rich diet (fast food, packaged foods) will likely have a potassium deficiency which can lead to a number of health issues.

The main one for gout sufferers is water retention which leads to the build up of uric acid levels and therefor an increased risk of gout.

Fruits high in potassium include (but not limited to) bananas, oranges, apricots, grapefruit, avocados, watermelon and pomegranate.

Fibre

Dietary fibre plays a very important role in maintaining digestive health and regular bowel movements.

Fibre will also make you feel fuller for longer, reducing the need to snack which can be a good habit to remove if your go-to snack is a pre-packaged (and probably sugar or sodium laden) food.

Fibre can improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels which over the long term can assist in preventing diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and bowel cancer.

Dietary fibre is important for our digestive health and regular bowel movements. Fibre also helps you feel fuller for longer, can improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels and can assist in preventing some diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and bowel cancer.

The Bad: Sugar

The type of sugar found in fruit is called fructose.

Unfortunately the side effect of a large intake of fruit is an increase in fructose. Any type of increased sugar intake is always on the “avoid” list when it comes to gout.

Even natural sources of sugar such as fructose – when consumed in larger quantities than would be considered balanced – can increase uric acid levels over time to the point of crystallisation.

When your body breaks down fructose, purines are released. As these chemical compounds are broken down, uric acid is produced. Uric acid can form painful crystals in the joints which is the cause of gout.

Fructose can generate uric acid within minutes of being consumed.

Someone commented on one of our Facebook posts saying their husband who suffered from gout was a huge fruit eater.

After suffering from gout for years he cut back on fruit in a big way and has been gout free for two years.

It’s no surprise the reduction of fructose in his diet has seen a positive impact on his gout situation. Eating “huge” amounts of fruit would have caused a much larger than normal intake of fructose than what would be considered balanced.

Conclusion

When it comes to diet, it’s important to identify trigger foods and reduce/eliminate them from the diet.

Red meat, seafood, alcohol and sugar are the 4 most common culprits.

Sugar is especially nasty as it appears naturally and is also added to so-called “healthy” foods you buy off the shelf.

A lot of people over-consume sugar as they are simply not aware how much is in their food.

For example, “fat-free” food is often laden with sugar because without fat, taste disappears. How do they put taste back in? Sugar!

Key takeaway: while fruits are generally considered OK when eaten in moderation, an over-consumption of fruits can dramatically increase your sugar intake.

Over-consumption of fruit may appear healthy, but it’s best to maintain a healthy balance.

Limit fruit to 1 portion per day.

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References

  1. Vitamin C Intake and the Risk of Gout in Men – A Prospective Study