Gout is a form of arthritis that develops when excess uric acid forms crystals in a single joint. Your symptoms, such as intense joint pain, swelling and redness, may come in sudden flareups known as gout attacks. Although various joints may be affected, the joint in your big toe is the most common, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. In addition to medical treatment, healthy foods, including oats, may help manage your symptoms.
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Dietary treatment for gout aims to prevent and manage high uric acid levels, which can trigger symptom flareups. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases recommends limiting foods that are high in natural substances called purines, which trigger uric acid production. While organ meats, oily fish and yeast are high in purine content, whole grains, including oats, are not. As a fiber-rich food, oats promote appetite control and may ease the process of weight management, guarding against joint strain caused by excessive body weight. One half-cup of dry oatmeal provides 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein. Oats also provide antioxidants, such as selenium. Antioxidants support your body's ability to resist and heal from infections and disease.
The UMMC recommends that people with gout avoid potential food allergens, including gluten -- a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Although oats do not naturally contain gluten, commercial varieties are often contaminated with barley or wheat. The way you prepare oats can also enhance your wellness. Instant oatmeal, which is more processed and potentially less nutritious than old fashioned and steel-cut oats, should not be topped with brown sugar because it adds "empty" calories, or calories devoid of nutrients. Sugary foods may also offset your blood sugar levels, leading to appetite increases and weight gain. Preparing oats with whole milk adds considerable amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol, which may increase your risk for inflammation and heart disease.
For optimum nutritional benefits, choose old fashioned or steel-cut oats. Antioxidant-rich foods, particularly cherries, may help prevent gout attacks, according to the UMMC. For added antioxidants, top oats with cherries, blueberries, strawberries or raspberries. Low-fat milk may help lower your uric acid levels, so prepare oats with skim or low-fat milk instead of water or whole milk. Nutritious alternatives to brown sugar include stevia, which is a naturally sweet and antioxidant-rich herb, and pure maple syrup. If yeast-containing foods, such as wheat and white bread, worsen your symptoms choose oats instead.
Other Helpful Foods
To lower your uric acid levels, New York University Langone Medical Center recommends emphasizing plant-based protein, such as beans, lentils and tofu. Choose fresh fruits over juices, canned and dried fruit, which typically contain less fiber and high amounts of natural or artificial sugars. For overall wellness and reduced inflammation, replace butter, margarine and high-fat cheeses with nuts, seeds and vegetable oils, such as canola, which provide essential fatty acids. Other nutritious whole grains include brown rice, wild rice, pearled barley and air-popped popcorn. Rice and popcorn are gluten free. When purchasing breads, cereals and pasta, check nutritional labels to ensure that whole grains are listed as main ingredients.