Gout is a form of arthritis that can cause sudden and severe attacks of pain, swelling and stiffness. Gout can be an intermittent or constant problem if not treated properly, and attacks can range from mild to severe. While diet alone does not cause gout, eating the wrong foods can contribute to the development of this disease. If you have been diagnosed with gout, your physician can recommend what foods, such as blueberries, should be included or excluded from your diet.
Your body naturally makes uric acid, and it is also a byproduct created when you digest foods containing purines. If too much uric acid accumulates in the body, your kidneys may have trouble filtering it, which can lead to the development of crystals. These crystals can settle in your joints and cause gout. Gout attacks can come on suddenly; while any area of the body can be affected, it most commonly occurs in the big toe. Depending on the severity of your attacks, you may be able to manage your symptoms with diet or you may need medication to decrease the amount of uric acid in the body as well as to reduce pain and swelling, according to the Family Doctor website.
Foods to Avoid
An important part of managing gout is to drink plenty of water and limit intake of foods that are high in purines. While your body does make a certain amount of uric acid, you can help to decrease the level in your blood by reducing your intake of certain foods, including liver, herring, anchovies, mackerel, red meat, tuna, shrimp, lobster and scallops.
A general goal is to limit your intake of animal sources of protein to 4 to 6 ounces a day, suggests the Mayo Clinic. You also need to watch your intake of alcohol, because alcohol hinders your body's ability to excrete uric acid. Other foods that are high in purines include anchovies, asparagus, dried beans, peas and mushrooms. Limiting intake of high purine foods may not cure you of gout, but in some cases it can limit the frequency and severity of attacks.
Foods to Include
The same healthy eating guidelines that apply to losing weight and managing heart disease, diabetes and cancer can be followed by those living with gout. Aim to get plenty of healthy carbohydrates, such as whole grain foods, because carbohydrates help your body get rid of excess uric acid. It is also important to get about two to four servings of fruit each day to meet your body's nutritional needs, and all fruits, including blueberries, are allowed, because fruits are low in purines, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center notes. One serving of blueberries is 1/2 cup canned or one cup fresh. If you choose juice or canned or frozen blueberries, go for products that are low in calories and sugar.
Benefits of Eating Blueberries
While including blueberries in your diet alone will not cure your gout, they are part of an overall healthy diet. Blueberries are high in antioxidants and fiber, and one cup’s worth will provide you with a fourth of the daily requirement for vitamin C, according to the American Dietetic Association. They are fat free and one cup has just 80 calories, so eating them in place of sugary or sweet snacks can help you lose weight, which is also important when trying to control your gout attacks.