Will Eating a Paleo Diet Cause Gout?


This article is part of a special report on Red Meat. To see the other articles in this series, click here.

A common question I get from readers is whether a
Paleo-type diet will increase their risk for gout. Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis caused by elevated levels of uric acid in the blood, forming crystal deposits in the joints, tendons, and surrounding tissue.

Gout typically affects the feet in general and big toe joint specifically, and causes severe pain and swelling. In the past, gout was referred to as a “rich man’s disease”, as it typically affected the upper class and royalty who could afford “rich” foods like meat, sugar, and alcohol.

Uric acid is a byproduct of the metabolism of purines, one of two types of nitrogenous bases that form the basic structure of DNA and RNA. While purines are present in all foods, they are typically higher in many of the foods emphasized on a nutrient-dense Paleo diet, such as red meat, turkey, organ meats, and certain types of fish and seafood. Patients with gout are often advised to reduce or eliminate these purine-rich foods with the goal of preventing excess uric acid production, thereby reducing the symptoms of gout. And research has confirmed the association between high purine intakes and acute gout attacks, suggesting that those diagnosed with gout would benefit from a reduction in purine-rich foods. (12)

So, do we need reconsider recommendations to eat foods like liver, sardines, red meat, mussels, and other traditional foods? Do these nutrient-dense, purine-rich foods really cause gout? Are those of us following a Paleo-style diet putting ourselves at greater risk for this painful, debilitating condition?

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Inflammation as a cause of gout attacks

While high purine intake is associated with gout attacks in those who already have hyperuricemia, or high levels of uric acid in the blood, purine intake alone is not enough to trigger these attacks. (3) In fact, uric acid levels are frequently decreased during gout attacks, sometimes to within the normal range. Another factor associated with gout flares is an increase in C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6), cytokines produced during numerous inflammatory conditions. (4) These inflammatory cytokines are increased in the joint fluid and serum of patients with acute gouty arthritis. (56)

Therefore, systemic inflammation is likely a key factor affecting the likelihood of developing gout flares, and as we know, diet plays a significant role in inflammation. While foods like grass-fed beef, sardines, and mackerel are high in purines, they are also higher in omega-3 fatty acids and low in omega-6 fatty acids. Since the omega-3 to omega-6 balance in your diet modulates the inflammatory response, a diet with sufficient long-chain omega-3 fats like EPA and DHA will reduce systemic inflammation and may reduce the risk of forming the uric acid crystals that cause joint pain.

Fructose: An important player in the development of gout

While fructose in naturally occurring amounts is relatively benign, research has shown that higher intakes of fructose may mediate many of the abnormalities seen in the metabolic syndrome, including elevated triglycerides, due to increases in uric acid production. (7) A recent study confirmed the uric acid–elevating potential of fructose ingestion, both by producing excess uric acid and reducing its excretion in the urine. (8)

While some uric acid in the blood is normal, providing a level of antioxidant protection, excess uric acid is a pro-oxidant and the major causative factor for gout. Some researchers even suggest that this excess uric acid in the blood is a major factor in the development of insulin resistance and metabolic diseases. (9) So if you’re avoiding excess fructose consumption from high fructose corn syrup and excess sucrose (table sugar), you’ll be at a lower risk for gout that someone who’s washing their burger down with a can of coke.

A word on the epidemiological correlation between meat and gout

A major reason that many conventional physicians and health professionals see red meat consumption as a significant risk factor for gout is that red meat is typically a component of an overall “Western diet pattern”, a pattern that is also high in sugar, vegetable oils, sweetened beverages, refined grains, and processed meats, while being low in fruits and vegetables. (10) It is nearly impossible for epidemiologists to separate meat consumption from this general pattern of eating when studying modern cultures — after all, most “health conscious” eaters in our generation believe that meat is unhealthy and typically eat less of it.

While most epidemiological studies attempt to control for these confounding factors, the truth is that most high consumers of meat are generally prone to other unhealthy habits such as smoking and drinking, and are typically more overweight than low meat consumers in these studies. Of course this doesn’t tell us anything about the active, health-conscious Paleo eater who avoids high fructose corn syrup and omega-6 fatty acids, as well as other inflammatory foods like refined grains, and doesn’t drink heavily or smoke.

Eating a Paleo diet won’t cause gout!

The next time your doctor or best friend says you’ll get gout from a Paleo diet, you can refer him or her to this article. Rest assured that a diet full of nutrient dense foods like grass-fed red meat, liver, shellfish, and fatty ocean fish is not putting you at risk for developing this painful condition. More likely to cause gout are the common American dietary staples such as sugar-sweetened beverages, industrial seed and vegetable oils, refined carbohydrates, and excessive alcohol (beer in particular). The Western diet pattern is a risk factor for gout; a nutrient-dense Paleo diet is not.

Now I’d like to hear from you. Have you experienced concern from a physician or family member over your diet and your risk for gout? Has this article helped calm your fears about your diet-related risk factors for gout? Share in the comments below!

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Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Brenda says

    A few months ago I developed pain in the bunion area of my foot with some redness and swelling. I’m about 5′ 5″ and 110 lbs and wear orthotics. I retired 8 months ago and sleep great. I eat a mostly (80%) “Clean” and “Paleo” diet for gut health reasons – leaky gut (a lot of vegetables, vegan protein [hemp, rice, pea] shakes for breakfast everyday with nut milk or coconut milk, a splash of coconut water, greens, flax, antioxidants, and berries for sweetness – no other sweeteners). I eat mostly chicken, beef and fish protein, and few if any grains or refined carbohydrates or caffeine. I also drink alkaline water (for several years now). And yet I have osteoporosis, a slightly elevated HbA1c (5.7), high Cholesterol (222) with high HDL and LDL (both at 105). No uric acid test though. I do have some heavy metal toxicity which my Naturopathic Dr. is treating slowly with a Cilantro herbal tincture (for about two years now). I am at a loss for why this painful condition is starting now. I’ve heard that our feet and ears grow as we age, at 52 years young, could it be that the pain is simply from bone growth? BTW, I also recently purchased new shoes 1 whole size bigger than before.

    • says

      Brenda, I can tell you from my personal experience that high protein (paleo/Atkins etc) absolutely cause my gout to flare. I was determined to go paleo and stuck with it for almost a year. I thought my body was simply trying to “adjust” as a lot of my friends suggested. I was plagued with gout almost the entire time. Within 2 weeks of changing my eating back to a plant based diet my gout let up. I did learn from that experience, however, that flour and sugar also caused my gout to flare.

  2. RLondon says

    Great reading. For three years now I have been on the Modified Atkins Diet for seizure disorder (modified in that it’s high fat, moderate protein, low carb). I’m a 52 year old female, never had any real weight issues (currently 127 lbs), and I’m fairly active. Today I had my blood tested for Gout. Everything about my symptoms sounds exactly like Gout. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone mention that uric acid levels in women increase almost to the level of men’s after menopause (which as much as it pains me to say – I’m definitely in that category). I’ve probably been a little high in my meat consumption so I think I may have created the perfect storm by my meat consumption and the fact that I am currently entangled in the menopause mess.

    I have been feeling so healthy since being on this diet and then boom, out of the blue, I get this excruciating pain in my right ankle.

    But, just as I sit and write this I receive a text from my doctor saying it’s not Gout. Now I’m back to square one. Hmm, wonder if I should request a check of the fluid from that ankle?

  3. says

    Potassium deficiency is deeply involved in gout as an accentuating factor because uric acid is less soluble in acidic urine. Potassium bicarbonate supplements will reverse this. You may see this discussed in a book about potassium nutrition as it relates to heart disease, gout, rheumatoid arthritis diabetes, hypertension, diabetes, and metabolic shock (high blood potassium) available in http://charles_w.tripod.com/arthritis8.html along with the table of contents introduction, and first two chapters. In view of the fact that this is not considered by current rheumatologists, it would be very valuable for you to bring it into your future writing. It is not only that potassium is not considered by physicians in regard to gout, many of them do not even believe that a potassium deficiency is likely. This even though many of them prescribe what are actually supplements, but prescribed under euphemistic terms such as salt substitutes, sodium free baking powder, ORT salts (oral rehydration therapy for diarrhea), polarizing solutions, GIK (glucose, insulin, potassium) salts, vegetables, or glucosamine. A deficiency is further defined out of existence by defining the blood serum content normal as 4.2 when the actual figure is 4.8..
    Sincerely, Charles Weber

  4. says

    The reason people are more sensitive to purines Chris is because there acid load is too high to begin with. Its the overfilled bucket theory… Animal products are high in purines, as they are concentrated proteins. Too many purines like you mentioned that are in red meat, in addition to all the other acidifying foods that you mentioned is too much for the bodies buffers to handle so the acid gets deposited in the bodies tissues. Gout is the buildup of acids in the extremities like the big toe due to a high acidic load and the bodies inability to metabolize the acids. Thus, the bucket is full and as a protective mechanism the body needs to clear the acid to prevent extreme complications and even death. This one paragraph alone should give you a better explanation of how body pH works with the blood and definitive proof from gout alone that its not just blood pH that we need to focus on to be in balance and homeostasis. Too much meat and acid foods without the proper balance of alkaline foods will result in a positive acid tissue load. As disease sets sets in and kidneys begin to malfunction you may develop alkalosis in certain cases, but the underlying factor and origin of the disease is most always too much acid foods and an acidic lifestyle in general. I will be shedding a whole new light on pH balancing for you when my site is up so you can be better inform your followers and patients the the critical importance of balancing pH levels on a paleo diet. I also have a long list of pros and cons regarding paleo..

    • Jeff says

      How is it possible for blood pH to be stable but for other tissues to be acidic when there is blood throughout your body?

  5. John D says

    Sorry, despite my appreciation for what this blog provides overall, this article is misleading, and should be removed!!! Paleo, in the many ways practiced, does bring about mqny health benefits, BUT, please understand that red meat and especially organ meats are VERY strong trigers for a gout attack, even at low UA levels, achieved by high doses of allopurinol. As for high potasium being a cure…… it is highly unlikely given the fact that many gout patients have hypertension/metabolic syndrome and take antihypertensives (losartan, lisinopril etc….) that are known to raise potasium at dangerously high levels. I am a gout sufferer for over 9 years now, and although have reached a certain control over it after 5 years of 300/mg daily allopurinol, this is a very very hard disease to control. Organ meats make for a very humbling experience, as ot takes no more than 5-10 min to triger an attack. No theories or articles in order to glorify a certain diet, written by people with no gout experience would solve the fact that millions of gout patients know, and live with daily, that meat purines triger gout on them.

    • says

      @ JohnD

      I have to disagree with you Sir. The incidence of gout amongst a largely vegetarian & teetotal society in India is as high as 7%.

      To suggest Gout is directly linked to Red Meat/High Purine intake is akin to suggesting Fat consumption is what makes us Fat (which as we are now learning is not actually the case at all. Good fats are hugely important and beneficial to us in the context of lowering HDL and increasing LDL for example and the rise in obesity is linked to the standard american ‘low-fat’ diet)

      This is a really informative read….


      I am a gout sufferer and whilst I have modified my consumption of certain food types the single biggest contributor to controlling flare ups for me is the elimination of Fructose from my diet. I eat lots of protein and grass fed beef.

      I had suffered joint inflammation and have experimented with lots of food types (cutting some for 3-4 periods at a time) only to find that at time of high inflammation I was also more likely to suffer a gout attack. I consume fishoils with every main meal and my incidence of inflammation has reduced dramatically.

      Balancing the acidity in my body is key. Good hydration is important too. I have learned that my body produces a lot more uric acid through normal cell regeneration and body fat breakdown than anything I would ever consume in a given day.

      I am not a medical guy, just an ordinary Joe.

    • says

      that long with such a curable disease like gout??? Wow.. If you want any advice in regards to pH balance and a definitive guideline that will allow ur body to heal itself I would love to help.

      • Cici says

        Brian- I have been struggling with my 83 year old mother and her chronic gout for years. Twice in 2 years she has called an ambulance in the middle of the night because she couldn’t even stand on her feet she was in so much pain from a gout flare-up. Drs are no help. Besides prescribing a pill (which she takes every day & still gets gout) they are useless. As very little has helped over the years, I took it upon myself to try to figure out why she’s so prone to gout. I believe the chemistry in her body is way to acidic. I actually had her Dr test her urinary ph & it was 5! I wasn’t truly shocked, but 5! Yiikes!! Can you provide me with information regarding alkalinity? I believe that if the chemistry in her body was more alkaline that gout couldn’t grow.

    • Jeff says

      Did you read the article? He said if you have gout it is best to reduce purine rich foods but they are not the main cause of the development of gout to begin with.

      “And research has confirmed the association between high purine intakes and acute gout attacks, suggesting that those diagnosed with gout would benefit from a reduction in purine-rich foods.”

    • Karin says

      Hi, I must say I’m also very nervous to serve my 17 year-old daughter red meat (grass-fed). She suffers from severe gout within 12 hours in both her wrists, if she eats even on bite of beef.

      She doesn’t use any medication (it doesn’t help), she simply doesn’t eat beef or drink any fizzy drinks/alcohol.

  6. says

    Potassium deficiency is deeply involved in gout and high uric acid as an accentuating factor because uric acid is less soluble in acidic urine. Potassium bicarbonate supplements will reverse this. In view of the fact that this is not considered by current rheumatologists, it would be very valuable for you to bring it into your future writing. It is not only that potassium is not considered by physicians in regard to gout, many of them do not even believe that a potassium deficiency is likely. This even though many of them prescribe what are actually supplements, but prescribed under euphemistic terms such as salt substitutes, sodium free baking powder, ORT salts (oral rehydration therapy for diarrhea), polarizing solutions, GIK (glucose, insulin, potassium) salts, vegetables, or glucosamine. A deficiency is further defined out of existence by defining the blood serum content normal as 4.2 when the actual figure is 4.8. For gout, though, the chloride is not acceptable. But potassium bicarbonate powder dissolved in fruit juice or half teaspoon sprinkled on cereal will work very well. It may be obtained from businesses which add it to wine. You may see an article on this concept in http://www.webmedcentral.com/article_view/4217 . If you supplement potassium, be very certain that vitamin B-1 is adequate, because otherwise heart disease can be triggered (see http://charles_w.tripod.com/kandthiamin.html ).
    Sincerely, Charles Weber

  7. says

    Discovering that my acidity levels are through the roof. Not just gout but inflammation elsewhere also (eg. ankle tendons).

    One vice I haven’t ditched (aside from Alcohol, Dairy, Grains) is Coffee. Having read previously that coffee helped keep gout under control, I then read conflicting materials to day that too much coffee can trigger flare-ups.

    I have capped the various sources of my recent episode to either excess coffee consumption (and associated acidity) and increased metabozisation of body fat due to aggressive weight loss and BF% reduction.

    Considering doing a green cleanse to give my liver a much needed lifeline.

    Such is the life of a gout sufferer :-)

    • says

      The caffeine in coffee and much more so the aflatoxin biproducts from the mold that develops when the coffee beans are dried will make the coffee highly acidic and will override the anti-oxidant benefits. Green Cleanse great idea as you need to be pH balanced to control and eliminate problematic inflammation.

  8. says

    Delighted to find this thread.

    As a long term gout sufferer I have tried everything.

    I am currently (& have been for 3 months) sugar free, alcohol free, grain/wheat free and even dairy free. I chose an aggressive path to lose weight and ditch the meds.

    I reduced fruit to one piece a day or a handful of berries and most of my carbs come from fresh vegetables & leaves.

    I am training 4 times per week mainly using body weight and free weight circuits/intervals. I feel better than I have since my 20’s.
    All of a sudden I had a gout flare-up today. I always blamed it on alcohol/sugar/fructose etc. now what?

    In recent days I have been under a lot of work related stress. My water consumption is massively reduced and I am eating clean but not as often as usual. I have missed snacks and gone 6-7 hours without eating. My last workout session before the flare-up was particularly tough and possibly traumatic to my muscles (power squats). I slept terribly that night.

    I am trying to connect the dots and I am beginning to think the answer lies beyond diet alone.

    I hope this makes sense to anybody researching gout.

    • Steve Faulkner says

      If you’re working out hard and don’t hydrate, you are very likely to have an attack. I’ve been through it more times than I can count. If you aren’t drinking plenty of water you are setting yourself up for an attack, regardless of how clean you are eating.

    • Fran says

      Hi Piper,

      I am facing the same problem you’ve described since yesterday. Have you found any solution to that? I’ve quit alcohol, carbs of all kind and I am eating meat, fish and vegetables since 9 days now. I am drinking a lot of coffee daily and since 2 days now I am suffering severe pain in my left ankle. I have had once gout but in that time it was caused mostly by alcohol consumption. This pain now reminds me of that one. Can you help? How did you get out of your problem? Thanks in advance.

    • Dave says

      Hi guys

      Good plan with the heavy restriction diet. However the reason for the flare ups during the transition is due to a sharp rise is uric acid that accompanies going low carb/ keto adaptation. My advice is get low, stay low and drop the weight. This may take a good 6 months in solid ketosis. With some bad flares on the way. But once you are adapted your insulin is down, gluconogenisis levels and your brain starts to love ketones you will be free. You uric acid will drop and level out. You will not experience rapid rise and falls in acid levels.

    • Haley says

      I would love some suggestions about gout. I was diagnosed with it almost two years ago and see so many conflicting articles about how to help it and whatnot that I feel like I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off.

  9. DIANA VP says

    Thanks for this article, Chris. Just want to point out to the team, an edit correction in paragraph 8:
    “you’ll be at a lower risk for gout that someone who’s washing their burger down with a can of coke.”

    It should be “than” someone. :)

  10. Ron_Steele says

    Hi. I have chronic gout for decades. 2 yrs. ago, I started on a low carb diet and have been eating red meat, organ meat, sardines-basically all foods rich in purine. Haven’t had any attacks except once when I had a severe seasonal pollen allergy last spring. It was maybe because I had inflammation in my body.

  11. Brian cragg says

    Hi I have been directed to your article based on red meat.
    I have been very healthy up to know but was overweight
    I am now 66 and lost 10 kilos over the last 18 months on a low carb diet
    For the first time one of my health scores uric acid had reached 11
    Conventional doctors tell me to stop red meat etc
    One even said I will now be on a drug for the rest of my life
    No way so I have tried most natural supposed dies including cherry juice and bi carbonate of soda etc without success
    Is there anything I can do or is it even a ptoblem

  12. Rick says

    I switched to a Paleo diet almost three months ago. I have struggled with congestion, clearing my throat, foggy brain, insomnia and general malaise for several years. I would also experience flu-like symptoms following aggressive exercise so I have been moderating my level for several years. While I was eating a relatively healthy diet by western standards- organic, juicing, lots of fruit and veggies, reduced meat – I was not able to significantly improve. My integrative health doctor also had me take fluconazole 200mg for 6 weeks to eliminate bad yeast. All of my general health concerns have been virtually eliminated over these 3 months. I have not felt this good in years. However, I have been experiencing occasional pain in my right big toe and stiffness in my knees. These symptoms are new to me. Just wondering what I need to tweak in my diet or what supplements I should add/subtract to get rid of these symptoms. BTW, I have taken high levels of fish oil for several years.

    • Rick says

      One more important piece of the puzzle, all of my blood tests before Paleo were very good except my inflammation markers. All three markers came back pretty elevated. I will be taking a follow-up test in a month to see where my levels are post-Paleo.

  13. Brian Determan says

    As I have been into a paleo lifestyle for one and half years, I fell into a trap of consuming refined grains (even gluten-free corn based cereal and gluten-free breads) and fructose rich foods when I visited my 88 years old uncle and 82 years old aunt. They do not understand my paleo lifestyle, and it’s like teach an old dog new treats. Right after I returned home from visiting my relatives, I ended up have an unbearable pain in my lower right abdomen. I went to E.R. I learned that I have a kidney stone. I also have a recent gout located in the bottom of my right foot. I later discovered that it’s due to high uric acid levels. I have never had this problem before. When I googled a list of uric acid rich foods to avoid, most of them said it’s red meat and fish. I then checked Dr. Kresser’s article in regards to high uric acid levels. That made sense since the way Dr. Kresser provided the information on what causes elevating a level of uric acid matched my food consumption when I recently was on a vacation. I often check out Dr. Kresser’s article while I do my homework in regards to any health issue associated to a food consumption.

  14. Den says

    Found out I have gout five months ago while walking around Disney with my wife. Brutal pain. But it was a great wakeup call. I’m about to turn 40 and am in decent shape. I have a great metabolism that my doctor has always told me is a health risk because I eat what I feel like without visible repercussion. I imagine everyone’s specific body type, age and solution is different, and I imagine that most of these cures work in some way. I took a four-pronged approach that eliminated my attacks in a matter of 4 or 5 weeks for good after hearing every opinion I could find:
    1. ELIMINATE the widely-agreed causes of rapid UA buildup and excretion blocking: Organ meats (let’s face it, they’re not good for you no matter what), HFCS and Beer. the last two are the real killers because they both block excretion of UA into the urine and ADD purines to the blood. I love drinking, but I just gave up beer entirely. same for canned soda. I get the occasional Whole Foods cane sugar cola, but I basically dropped it all. I still love hard alcohol, but I’ve cut out mixed drinks. when I drink a bourbon on the rocks, I drink less bourbon and I drink WAY less coke. Sometimes I’ll cut it with club soda. And supposedly red wine in moderation has a similar effect to Cherry juice. can’t hurt!
    2. DRINK more water. seriously. not a little more, but so much that you actually feel a little bloaty at the end of the day. I drink about four liters of water durning the workday, then more when I get home. The end result is no gout, eating less and weight loss. Win win win!
    3. Eat in smaller portions. with all that water consumed, it’s pretty easy. overeating blocks the body’s ability to excrete UA as well… at least for a while
    4. Elevate activity. the more active you are, stretching, walking, running, lifting, the better your blood flow, the looser your joints and the easier it is for your body to break up those crystals and to flush the extra UA out.

    • Den says

      And for reducing the pain DURING an attack, I’ve heard people say hydration, cherries or cherry juice, celery seed or apple cider vinegar. I’ve only done massive amounts of water and cherry juice to combat a flare up, but it worked within a few hours beautifully

      • Rickus says

        Hi Den,

        Since it’s widely accepted that organ meats are among, if not the most, nutrient dense foods, what do you mean by, “let’s face it, they’re not good for you no matter what”?

  15. John Davis says

    There is another form of gout called pseudo-gout. It is caused from too much calcium in the diet. Instead of uric acid crystals forming it is calcium crystals. This is also called chondrocalcinosis.

    • Christopher says

      I am more “Primal” than pure paleo… but even then I probably eat too much dairly. This could be my issue. :-/

      I’m working on figuring out if there are other nutrients that I’m not eating in correct balance with calcium in order that my body properly utilizes calcium. I’ve always tried to make sure that I have magnesium, for instance.

      Very recently, however, I realized (from an article that Chris wrote about supplements) that I should try supplementing with K2 which is supposed to help shuttle calcium to where it is supposed to go.

      If I reduce my milk intake a bit and increase K2, maybe that will help.

      It’s all a big experiment! lol

  16. Daren says

    I’ve had gout for 7 months now. It believe it was precipitated by a ketogenic diet (3 months on keto).

    Does Paleo cause gout? In the pure sense, I don’t think so. Does Paleo push you into gout territory? Yes, I think it has that potential. I get the feeling if one already has a predisposition, ie metabolic syndrome, or other genetic factors, that high purine diets like Paleo are not going to help in the short term.

    It is a curious condition, as it is hard to resolve naturally. I cut purines drastically, got my Uric Acid down to 2.0, but it made my gout worse. The theory is that rapid increases or decreases in Uric Acid can trigger gout flares. Does this mean that a low purine diet doesn’t help? I am not sure, because I think your body still needs a stabilisation period.

    I tried a lot of stuff, ie different brands of Black Cherry Extract, Apple Cider Vinegar etc. You name it, I consistently tried most of the natural remedies and they were a waste of time.

    I finally succumbed to taking Allopurinol (very low dose of 100mg). That has fixed my gout. I only had 1 minor flare while on Allopurinol when I drank a pint of beer, but that resolve in 2-3 days.

    For what it’s worth I think gout is really related to metabolic issues. My bet is that most people with gout are (or have been) overweight, or have other metabolic problems like fatty liver, high triglycerides etc.

    Maybe it would help if we all shared our background with this condition or any other factors that we believe have contributed or caused gout.

    * I’m 36 yrs old
    * 186cm
    * 244 lbs
    * Muscular build but could definitely shed 25-30lbs
    * Fatty liver
    * High Triglycerides
    * First gout gout after being on a strict Ketogenic Diet
    * Second major flare-up was after I had surgery (I hear that is often a trigger)

    • Steven says

      Daren- I’m an American living in Taiwan currently, am obese, but have recently gone “reasonably” Paleo and have lost a lot of weight… quickly. And that BY ITSELF is REALLY likely to cause a gout attack. I just spoke to a very well-read doc on the subject, and he claims that when carbohydrates are drastically reduced and weight loss is rapid, it will nearly ALWAYS raise uric acid levels to the point of gout- i’m sure the fact that i live on a subtropical island and eat piles of shellfish and organ meat didn’t help, but i rarely drink alcohol at all, consume very little sugar, and drink a LOT of water daily. but i did have what i THINK was a very mild gout attack a week ago… ironically, i had had a blood panel done 6 days earlier, and my uric acid level came back at a 9.6 (pretty high!). Add to that the fact that i take a thiazide diuretic for blood pressure (my doc already informed me i’ll be coming off them this month) which has been proven to increase uric acid blood levels due to its inhibition on the kidney’s ability to excrete excess uric acid.. SO, don’t know if that helps tremendously, but hope it at least gives some insight.

      • Fran says

        Hi guys,

        I am facing the same problem you’ve described since yesterday. Have you found any solution to that? I’ve quit alcohol, carbs of all kind and I am eating meat, fish and vegetables since 9 days now. I am drinking a lot of coffee daily and since 2 days now I am suffering severe pain in my left ankle. I have had once gout but in that time it was caused mostly by alcohol consumption. This pain now reminds me of that one and of your problem. How did you get out of your problem? Thanks in advance.

  17. NK says

    What a rich dialogue. Really appreciate it. @Trundle, thanks especially.

    I have to say I’m surprised/frustrated to not have seen any commentary on how (if it’s possible at all) to reduce steady-state/base uric acid levels over time.

    I am 30. I have experienced 5-6 episodes of gout over the last 1.5 years, with increasing frequency — despite being by and large Paleo for the last 2.5 years. I’ve lowered pain & inflammation since my first attack with acute use of prescription “Indomethacin” — but would obviously prefer to have fewer attacks. Some context — I have a genetic predisposition (via father), was on a VLC initial diet (for ~1.5 years) followed by PHD over the last 4 months, but am sadly seeing no drop in gout episodes (rather, an increase since PHD). I have allowed myself cocktails/wine and some low-sugar chocolates, and think this could be a major cause. I’ve also continued to eat purine-rich foods, in what I thought was an appropriate balance with safe starches. All that’s stopping now, though — I’ll be fully eliminating alcohol and processed fructose, and I’m going to be significantly limiting my consumption of purines. Curious if I should expect to be able to reduce my *base* uric acid blood levels to <5 ever again in my lifetime. Overly optimistic? Any suggestions for how to start?

    Also — thoughts from the forum on gout-impacts of:

    – Dry Kombucha
    – Cherry extract *pills*
    – Natural sources of Vitamin C (bell peppers?) vs supplements
    – Animal fats (grassfed tallow, grassfed butter)
    – Permissible levels of wine consumption (eg 1 day/week?)

    • Suzanne says

      For 20 years I was misdiagnosed with stress fractures in both feet (many MRIs) so was in excruciating pain and often on crutches. As I got older, it got worse and more frequent. My uric acid level was never higher than 7 so gout was never suspected. I ended up in a wheel chair for several months and on crutches afterwards. After many specialists, I finally found a rheumatologist who was an expert on gout. When she stuck the needle in my deformed foot, the microscope revealed millions of uric acid crystals. Because I had been misdiagnosed for 20 years, all joints in my feet were severely damaged and that is why the “stress fracture” error was diagnosed throughout the years. BTW–at several points over the years I had gone to multiple holistic practitioners and had tried their recommendations of cherry juice, celery seeds, cider vinegar, supplements, etc. in case it was gout. Nothing worked. What I discovered is gout flare ups have to be nipped in the bud within 24 hours or it has to run it’s course whether it will be days, weeks or months. Gout is hereditary and some bodies are missing the enzymes to eliminate uric acid crystals caused by purine. (See Mayo clinic study). Although I was reluctant to take medication daily, I succumbed to Allupurinol and closely monitored my kidney function which have been fine. I am thrilled to report my feet have been gout free for 14 months….the longest time in 20+ years. Because it went on for so many years, the joint damage is severe but at least I am thrilled not to have any further flare ups. When I review my life, I was an active exercise fanatic so from 30 to 55+ consumed a high protein low carb diet. As later discovered, prolonged high protein-low carb diets are not healthy for the liver and kidneys especially as one ages. I’ve tried just about every food plan. After seeing an aryuvedic practitioner, I have stopped eating a high protein low carb diet, rarely have raw foods, and have begun eating cooked gluten free grains, lots of ghee, fresh green drinks several times a week instead of daily as they can create havoc on the thyroid which I also experienced, small portions of low saturated fat proteins, seasonal root veggies and a glass of warm organic milk nightly with turmeric, cardamon and cinnamon. Time will tell. I believe clean, conscious eating free of gmo and pesticides is the best.

  18. Petrolene Le Roux says

    I have a client on Paleo. How long before gout effects should alleviate on such a diet or will it depends on the individual? He’s been on Paleo for about 2 months.

  19. Anjum Pathare says

    You are talking about grass fed red meat. I do not get grass fed red meat so I usually eat grain fed red meat. If I avoid a diet high in sugar, vegetable oils, sweetened beverages, refined grains, and processed meats, do you think I still have a risk of gout due to the red meat I eat?

  20. Matt says

    I eat a low carb diet of things like poultry and eggs. No sugars or grains and I still get gout flareups.

    If you think that your safe eating a Paleo diet, you are sadly mistaken. Any rich diet has the potential and in the end it’s going to be more about how much you eat. If you have a very high protein diet, you are probably at risk if you are also genetically at risk. It’s about total protein processed at some point, not about which foods are rich in purine. If I pig out one night on chicken breast I can wake up with a gout flare up.

    The simple reality is the medical community doesn’t really have a handle on gout and the disease effects people differently. Some people are very sensitive to purine rich foods, like beef and they just can’t have them, while others can’t take supplements like creatine. In the same token different prevention methods work for different people, but in the end the one universe rule becomes… eat less. Fiber is always a good suggestions, but high protein of any kind can, in fact, set off some people’s gout and the quality of the food such as organic vs corporate farmed makes no difference.

    Who do you guys think your kidding on that. It’s not about how the food was produced at all, it is, and always will be about how your consuming in, particularly eating too much of it and not burning off calories enough.

    If you want to avoid gout you have to address the exact reasons you are getting it, not take general advice from the internet. A good diary and a doctor are your best bets, but a doctor alone isn’t going to do much for you other than prescribe drugs because they just don’t really know enough. They don’t know your diet and they don’t exactly know why this diet causes gout for one gout sufferer and not another. Like many other food intolerance issues, much of the effort is left up to the patient, but the one sure fire thing that will work is eating less. If X amount of eating purine and/or protein makes you have a flare up then eating less than X will always be an improvement. With so many different metabolisms and digestive property you can’t hope to give one set of advice to people.

    I can eat one healthy meal a day consisting of meat and veggies and plenty of fiber and still get gout if it’s just too much food at one time. Some simple to follow advice is to break your meals up and drink more water in between. More water is generally good advice for most people and eating less is good advice for most people, so you can’t go wrong with those. Breaking meals up into smaller servings is a fairly proven method for weight loss and healthy digestion in general.

    But, in the end the medical community really doesn’t know jack about gout.

    • Michael says

      Agree! I am 58 yo white male. I have had gout attacks since age 23. Some years multiple attacks and some years no flare ups. At its worst I have had 6 flares in a year and al joints wth the longest episode lasting more than a month. It is an insidious disease. I have tried everything and monitored Moyer diet over my lifetime. I have come to the realization that the medical community knows still has much to learn about this ancient disease. And it is clear everyone is different. For me… My triggers: Dehydration (particularly after excessive), sugar (particularly corn syrup), stress, and surgery! I have had three surgeries over the past four years and each set off the worst gout attacks. As far as meat or alcohol I haven’t seen a link. But everyone is different!

  21. says

    I had gout at the age of 26. My doctor did not believe that I had it. I went in with sever knee pain when I woke up and he couldnt believe that it was the gout. I told him to test my blood and see if it was. He prescribed me Colchicine and waited for the results. Of course the results came back with all signs leading to gout. I was 370lbs, ate like crap, drank a ton and have gout on both sides of my family. Since I started Paleo at 28 I havent had one single flair up. I eat a lot of lean meat and shellfish. I believe it was the SAD of highly processed foods and tons of beer that was giving me gout. I can honestly say Paleo has relieved me from my gout pain.

  22. Anna says

    I’ve been eating primal for 2 weeks (primal meaning gutting all grain and legumes, but consuming dairy). I have been considering sharing my new-found lifestyle with my family and encouraging them to go primal. My father already has acute gout episodes on occasion. What advice would you give to someone who already has gout in terms of starting a paleo diet?

    • Trundle says

      Add tubers, increase dairy if you can tolerate it, consider adding rice, plantains, lentils. Read Richard Nikoley’s Free the Animal Blog re resistant starch: potatoes, legumes, plantains, etc. You need higher-carb Paleo. The mistake is to eliminate all essential carbs thinking that you can avoid gout on a VLC diet. Your dad’s long-term plan is to cut out all processed foods and sugar to lower his Uric Acid. However, gout’s short term triggers are purine-rich meats, alcohol, sodas and overexercise. You’ll never be able to solve gout on a diet rich in organ meats, redmeat, sardines, and bacon. Those who claim that these foods don’t trigger gout do not suffer from gout. Fructose is the wool the VLC camp is trying to pull over your eyes to distract you from these gout triggers. If you don’t think organ meats and purine-rich foods trigger gout, serve your dad some liver and onions with spinach and legumes.

      • Daren says

        Hi Trundle,

        Regarding your post you said to add a bunch of carbs including legumes, yet in closing you said “If you don’t think organ meats and purine-rich foods trigger gout, serve your dad some liver and onions with spinach and legumes” — so are legumes in our out?

        Also, I’m wondering do you have personal experience with gout, and what is your background, as I noticed you said you were published in 1999.

        Your posts are informative and offer a great alternative perspective which is refreshing. From my experience as a gout sufferer I think you are spot on. I am currently paleo with higher carbs. I don’t have too many carbs but it enough to make sure I don’t get into ketosis. I find the things like sweet potatoes also offer a good quantity of vitamins like potassium to help with gout.

        • Trundle says

          Beans and lentils do have moderate amounts of purines. About 125mg per 100 grams or 3 oz servings. So do spinach, cauliflower and broccoli. However, it’s more like 50-80mg per 100g. There is no reason to completely avoid these foods, as they themselvs will not usually trigger gout.

          They’ll trigger gout when eaten with animal protein. For example, that cow liver from US Wellness Meast has 550mg per 100g. If you’re gonna eat animal protein, I’d look into chicken and turkey, which are around 150-175mg. Most dairy products, cheese, and eggs are virtually purine-free.

          What I wouldn’t do is have a purine orgy with organ meats, beans, lentils and spinach. If you’re going crazy and need a ribeye steak, have some white/brown rice, potatoes/yams, carrots, etc. as side dishes. Why go out of your way to pig out on purines when you know you’ll regret it later?

  23. Joe says

    This was a good read. It makes me feel more comfortable about my next paleo attempt. I got a really bad attack the last time I did “Paleo”, I quoted Paleo, because I wasnt really doing Paleo, I was faking it. I wouldnt eat carbs for 4 or 5 days, then i would have a cheat day, then resume. However, I was still drinking 2 or 3 Beers most days in my 4 to 5 day stints, and on my cheat day it was a whole different story. I lost about 15lbs in 4 weeks, then the gout attack came.

    I started Paleo the right way about a week ago. I go all week, and have 1 cheat day.. Saturdays. I do not drink any beer, and on Saturdays I will have a couple glasses of Red wine. I lost 7lbs my first week, and have a goal for 60lbs total. I plan to adopt a low carb lifestlye once I reach my goal weight. Have carbs for 1 meal every other day.

  24. says

    Hi Chris.I have been paleo for 2years and always but particulary lately experiencing swollen finger and toe joints with hardening of the joint.I am confounded as I am strictly not touching any sugar in any form, no alcohol grains or any other carbs.Lately(2 weeks)I have taken eggs and dairy out as well to see if I would experience an improvement .The inflammation is worsening.I have increased my intake of fats(lard&coconut oil) and eat about 200gr of fish or meat/day fried or boiled in long cooked broths.Any thing jumps to your attention which I could try?Thank you so much for your guidance

    • Trundle says

      That’s not gout. You have rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Young women hardly ever get gout. That has nothing to do with sugar, alcohol or grains. Go to a rheumatologist and get your antibodies checked out to make sure you don’t have any other connective tissue autoimmune diseases. There are some people around here who think that a Paleo diet will cure their autoimmunity. It will reduce your symptoms but not cure the underlying autoimmune attack. That immune dysregulation will persist and you’ll have to deal with that for the rest of your life, Paleo or not. Go see a rheumy and get diagnosed first. If it’s RA, you’ll need to go gluten/dairy and possibley nightshade free. Egg whites are a problem occasionally but not always.

      • Rickus says


        You’re very Kurt Harrisesque in your writing style, smart, but abrupt:) ANYWAY, you make some good points. Clearly a leaky gut/gut biome dysfunction is a central problem. Just to add to your train of thought…If present, egg whites, gluten, meats, nightshades and more may cause inflammatory arthritis. So, BOTH gout and rheumatoid arthritis may indeed have something to do with sugar, alcohol and grains, which can effect intestinal permeability directly and indirectly via the gut biome. I suppose if someone removes that which has deteriorated the gut lining and increases gut biome diversity, they may indeed be able to stop food molecules/bacteria/viruses from entering the bloodstream and hence decrease the perpetuation of autoimmunity. As much as a rheumatologist might be great at checking antibodies, they haven’t yet gained ‘street cred’ for actually helping people with these problems:)

        One last thought. Is it possible that purines, oxalates, and more may directly cause autoimmunity in those with increased gut permeability? This may explain the confusing array of irritants and cures that people offer up.

        • Trundle says

          You’re mistaking gout to be autoimmune. It’s not, although it’s possible that a component of gout is autoimmune, just like atherosclerosis has an autoimmune component. But it’s not an autoimmune disease like RA is. Gout is actually closer to T2 diabetes/prediabetes, fatty liver, high triglycerides, and metabolic syndrome. RA has a genetic component that is more determining and an imbalance of gut flora (P. Copri), which may precede antibody attack. The “inflammation” underlying the two are different: in gout it’s systemic and largely metabolic. In RA, it’s specific and joint-related, although you could very well have metabolic issues and systemic inflammation.

          Plus, you almost never encounter someone who suffer from both RA and gout. The two do not travel together. If you’re diagnosed with both, it’s likely that you may not have gout or your arthritis may not be rheumatoid. These are not “fellow travelers” or what we call “co-morbidities.” They’re etiologically distinct, although their sufferers may both be replete with systemic inflammation. That’s why the food-based etiology that you mention misses the point.

          Sugar/fructose in gout, as I’ve said, is a long-term driver of hyperuricemia; sugar in itself, however, will not immediately trigger gout, as purines, alcohol, overexercise, and hypothermia, which induce sudden UA volatility, do. One possible exception is sodas but the mechanism may have as much to do with the acidity of soft drinks than with fructose. This is the point I keep hammering, since so many of you’re buying the Neanderthal line from these low-carbers that sugar is the driving force behind gout. Refined sugar is not good and it will raise your UA long-term. You should definitely avoid or limit it if you have gout or RA. However, you can still get gout at 5.0 UA. Only 1 out of 10 hyperuricemic (>7.0) people ever develop gout. Why is the 90% with high UA not getting gout? That’s because they’re not genetically vulnerable as the 10% is, who cannot excrete urate properly and must contend with sudden UA spikes or drops when they consume purines. The 90% is just as overweight, has metabolic issues and consume as much sugar as the 10%. However, they never develop gout. Doesn’t that tell you that sugar may be a component but not the primary driver of gout?

          The reason why these guys focus on sugar is because they want to promote their LC agenda while offering no solution for gout — sugar is a convenient scapegoat. But sugar is not implicated in an immediate gout attack; the real catalyst is purines that are in high doses in prototype LC foods: organ/muscle meats, bone broth, sardines, shrimp, lobster, lamb, veal, bacon, game meats, etc. If you already suffer from gout and do not restrict these foods, they will immediately trigger gout regardless of your UA level.

          As for purines and oxalates, these are gout triggers only in those that are genetically susceptible. They are not drivers of intestinal permeability. If you do not have gout, there is no special reason to restrict purines. But I would adopt a balanced diet with plenty of starchy carbohydrates, healthy fats, and animal protein. Low-carbing will solve metabolic issues short-term but is not a long-term solution health.

          • Rickus says


            Your points are well taken. I think we’re on the same page. I don’t personally suffer from gout, but find this stream clinically useful. Gout is an interesting entity indeed, because folks can’t seem to pin down a cause in effect. However, purine triggers in folks with metabolic dysfunction and a genetic predisposition makes sense to me.

            Thanks for your feedback.

          • Warren says

            I’ve read that taking a round of antibiotics can temporarily interfere with the bodies ability to eliminate UA. I have experienced a few(3-4)flair ups in my big toe over the last 5 years and they seem to coincide with when I’ve taken antibiotics for lymes, sinus infections. Could there be something about a healthier gut flora that protects those susceptible to gout from building up UA?

  25. Kathy says

    I have been paleo for 3 years, doing my annual Whole30. I have what I believe to be my first attack of gout. I really can’t tell anyone, because I can’t spout all these facts – it all seems twisted. Juicing? Reduce eating fruits? Caused by acidity? Eat lemons?

    My doctor is no fan of my diet! He is checking my cholesterol levels every three months and wants me to eat less beef and more chicken. I nod politely and disregard his directions. But I don’t know how I am going to handle telling him about this terrible pain in my big toe. He’s going to look down at my barefoot shoes and tell me to put my feet into some Nike boxes and cancel my grass-fed beef deliveries!

    So I will handle this myself. I do know that I have been eating too much fruit, for me it is the middle of fruit season. I also have reduced my water intake over the last 6 months. I am fixing that and I’ll see what happens.

    I have to ask my mother if she or my father have ever been diagnosed with gout. Shoot! There will be big family meetings about me and my “diet”, I can’t hear it now!

    • Trundle says

      Reduce eating fruit when you have gout? Why? You’re getting bad counsel from the low-carb camp, Cathy. Fructose is the problem. Fructose in excess quantity. You really cannot consume fruits in excess if you eat them raw; you can only do so via juicing. Soft drinks, cookies, sugary snacks … these contain excess fructose and raise your uric acid over the long term. There is nothing wrong with eating fruits in their natural state. That’s hardly gonna move your uric acid.

      The problem here is the uric acid volatility caused by purine rich foods; fructose is not a short-term trigger of gout. It is a long-term underlying cause of gout by elevating uric acid. But in the short-term, it’s purines, stress, hypothermia, over-exercising, etc. (Sodas can however often trigger gout by making your body extremely acid.) If you have gout, there is no other solution but to lower your uric acid and lower or avoid purine-rich foods. The low-carb camp has no answer for gout. They’ll hem and haw and act slippery, tell you to lose weight, lower UA. But you have to avoid those purine rich foods that are the mainstay of a VLC diet that are also gout triggers. You have to do higher-carb Paleo, incorporate dairy, tubers, and safe starches into your diet. Your food choices become unreasonable if you stay low-carb.

      • Honora says

        I noticed in my job as a phlebotomist that Pacific Islanders are prone to gout. Apparently as stated above elsewhere in the comments this category of gout sufferers genetically are unable to excrete the uric acid effectively – hence the build-up. We have another category that’s being studied at the moments using urea breath tests to diagnose the type of folks whose gout is due to a metabolic issue with fructose. I mean to learn more but it’s a matter of asking the right person at the right time. They’re all pretty busy…

  26. says

    I am thoroughly confused after reading all of these posts and don’t have a clue what to do for the gout that has reared it’s ugly head for the first time in my life. I am trying hard to live the Paleo lifestyle and am so discouraged that I feel worse now that I did before I started. This along with the first two gout attacks I have ever had in my life is messing with my head and taking away my motivation to continue forward with trying to clean up my diet and my life.

    It seems as though no one really knows for sure the cause or the cure.

    I would to have answers from clinical studies that have been proven as fact. Everyone has opinions and everyone has a different case so I don’t want to depend on subjective opinions. HELP!!!

  27. Dara says

    This is a cut-and-paste of what Lyle McDonald writes about ketosis and gout:

    Phiney and Volek deal with gout in The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living on pages 166-167 which are in Chapter 13, the section Biochemical Changes: A very predictable change in serum chemistry is a sharp rise in uric acid concentration in the first week or two of carbohydrate restriction. As noted above, this is due to competition between circulating ketones and and uric acid for renal tubular excretion. Put another way, uric acid rises in the blood not because the body is making more of it but because the kidneys temporarily clear less of it. Thus the blood level needs to rise in order for the same amount of it to be cleared by the kidney (because ketones are ‘getting in the way’). Subsequent to this abrupt early rise in uric acid, within 4-6 weeks the level then falls back to or below its pre-diet level even if the dietary carbohydrate restriction and ketonemia continue. This is part of the body’s ongoing adaptation to nutritional ketosis. In the vast majority of patients, this rise in serum uric acid is completely benign and requires no intervention. In the minority of individual predisposed to gout, however, wide swings in uric acid can trigger an attack. And this goes both ways – either the abrupt rise with diet initiation or the analogous abrupt fall if the ketonemia is reversed by breaking the carbohydrate restriction in the first few weeks, can act as a trigger. Most people with the genetic predisposition to gout know it long before they consider a low carbohydrate diet, so either preventative medication or prompt intervention at the first symptoms can usually preempt an attack. Also, because it is the rapid change in uric acid that is the primary trigger, once on a carbohydrate restricted diet, the patient with a history of gout should be counseled to avoid frequent cycling in and out of carbohydrate restriction (i.e., ‘going on and off the diet’).

    • Trundle says

      This is typical Phinney and Volek nonsense. They’re driven by an agenda to exonerate the VLC/ketogenic diet from being associated with gout. It could be true that temporary hyperuricemeia might result but the primary trigger here is the focus on puriner-rich foods, which naturally increase in proportion when you start VLCing. Phinney and Volek correctly note that it is the uric acid volatility that will trigger gout, not necessarily elevated uric acid. Only 1 in 10 people whose uric acid is above the reference range, that is, 7.0, will ever have gout. 9 out of 10 never get gout and have no reason to worry.

      For that 1 in 10, however, it’s the inability to excrete uric acid which is genetic in origin. That’s why these people have to avoid organ meast, redmeat, seafood, and other purine-high animal protein. For anyone with gout, you have to go on a high-carb Paleo, like the one advocated by Paul Jaminet or Chris Kresser. There is no other solution. You have to heavily start eating tubers, rice … in other words, safe starches. If you can tolerate dairy and eggs, indulge. I’m not saying completely restrict all meats: but eat meats that are relatively low in purines like poultry.

      But what’s alarming is these low-carbers still trying to preserve their low-carb agenda and trying to avoid gout from being implicated with their low-carb diets. Gout results from short-term uric acid volatility. And short-term UA volatility is triggered by heavy purine proteins. If you’re genetically vulnerable, you should avoid all organ meats, go easy on redmeat, bacon, and even certain vegetables like spinach, legumes, and lentils. Don’t listen to these low-carbers with an agenda. They’ll tell you to lose weight, lower UA even when you’re normal weight and have UA below 6.0. It’s the oldest trick in conventional medicine. When your patient starts having side effects, blame it on him, deny that the therapy (ketogenic/low-carb diet) is at fault. I have the lowest regard for peple like Phinney and Volek.

      • Dara says

        Thanks for the reply. I had no idea about anything regarding Phinney and Volek, I had just come upon that passage when it was referred to me by a friend who was a fan of Lyle McDonald (who is not necessarily an advocate of a very low-carb or ketogenic diet for all purposes). My understanding, however, is that even diets high in purine-rich foods don’t cause much of a change in circulating uric acid levels – I’ve seen the number quoted at about a 10% changes in uric acid levels at most can be attributable to diet, but who knows, maybe other studies say something different, or maybe that’s enough to cause the problems gout sufferers have. I was intrigued by this passage though, because looking back, going in and out of “deep” ketosis (not sure if that’s truly a thing, but I’ll assume now it is) seemed to be a more plausible trigger based on my experience than merely eating a low-carb diet. But I am merely a study of one.

        Also – and admittedly, this may be nitpicking, but I’d be interested to hear your thoughts if you’re so inclined – I don’t believe either Jaminet or Chris Kresser advocates a high-carb paleo diet. They do advocate, in slightly different ways, low-carb diets that include some carbs (enough to keep you out of perpetual, long-term ketosis, I believe), but they do tend to eschew very low-carb diets. For example, Jaminet advocates a diet that is about 65% fat calories with less or more carbs and proteins based on your goals (e.g., more carbs for athletes), which leaves carbs at about 200-400 calories/day, still pretty low-carb, I think. I know Chris Kresser, at least in the past, has cautioned against too much reliance on specific macronutient ratios, under the notion that we have seen healthy populations whose macronutrient ratios varied wildly. Still, I also understand that he doesn’t advise (or at least didn’t advise, maybe his thinking has changed) eating much at all in the way of carbs if a person has a weight problem and/or blood sugar issues, which many people who suffer from gout do have. Plus, even when discussing gout, neither Jaminet or Chris Kresser suggest avoiding many of the high-purine foods, particularly organ meats and shellfish; and neither would advocate eating much poultry, given the O3:O6 ratios. Do you think Jaminet’s specific recommendations (Chris’s are a little less specific, I believe) would be appropriate for those who have a propensity for gout attacks?

        • Trundle says

          Where do you get the 10% change? As I said, Volek and Phinney are right on this: it’s the change in UA, not the high UA level itself, which is a gout trigger. So if going in and out can induce this UA volatility, then it would trigger gout. But there are many other reasons why a VLC/ketogenic diet could induce gout, the biggest of which, as I said is purine-rich foods. This is simply indisputable. You eat a ton of organ meats/redmeat/sardines and you’ll come down with gout, I guarantee you. The blame game on fructose/sugar is really a smokescreen to divert attention from this. Sure, fructose will up UA long-term but unless it’s something incredibly acidic like sodas, fructose is not an immediate gout trigger; purines are. So if you have gout, I’m sorry, you will have to do low SaFA (except lacto-ovo SaFA) and higher carb Paleo, the kind done by those who may have defective ApoE4 genes and whose cholesterol skyrocket on a high SaFA low carb diet.

          By PHD and Chris, thieir diets are actually low carb compared to SAD, yes. But when VLCers look at it, they almost always consider it to be high-carb. I’m talking about 100-250 grams of all-natural carbs like tubers, plantains, white rice, etc. Yes, up to 250 grams if you have no blood sugar issues. But here’s the thing: neither Chris nor PHD believe in long-term ketogenic diets. This is off topic, but if gout is the only thing that you are suffering from after ketosis, consider yourself lucky. Many, many people are coming down with autoimmune diseases, gut dysbiosis, hormonal dysregulation, and immune deficiency after being on ketosis long-term. The effect is latent and stealthy so it might not be apparent. You start feeling it after a year, maybe 3 yeras. Your leptin, FT3, cortisol, and IGF-1 are dysregulated. You develop cold fingers and hands not just from hypothyroidism but Raynaud’s. There are plausible mechanisms where intestinal permeabilty will worsen and the autoimmune pathogenesis gets kickstarted. I know many people who became ANA-positive (that is, autoimmune antibody positive) upon ketoing. You will not know since it’s asymptomatic for years until you feel it. Check your WBCs. Leukocytopenia is an epidemic among VLCers and some of them end up developing severe immne deficiency syndrom. Check your WBCs before and after the diet. How much did it fall? Some fall as much as 50%. If your WBCs are into the 4-5s, you may be ok but I’ve seen some who fall to the 2s and their levels are not going back. Some of these people have to have immunoglobulins administered every month to battle infections. All of these are not mentioned in Lyle’s book, which was self-published, by the way. And Lyle is diligent and earnest but he does not fully understand the science behind many of the journal articles he cites. Also, my version is dated 1999, I don’t know if there was an update. But Lyle, impartial though he may be, misses a lot. There are huge health concerns emerging regarding VLC/ketogenic diets and it’s not just gout.


  28. Dara says

    One thing, I believe, people on a paleo diet who have gout should watch out for is that a gout flare-up can be triggered by entering into ketosis. While I understand that a paleo diet does not necessarily result in ketosis, people who cut out all unnatural sugars, grains and dairy, and who are reducing intake of fruit and starchy tubers, probably are in ketosis. My understand is that the ketone bodies compete with uric acid for clearance by the kidneys, but this is much more pronounced during entry into ketosis, so going into ketosis can trigger a gout attack in those prone to get them, because temporarily, one’s uric acid levels are unusually high. (Lyle McDonald has some analysis of studies that sums up the effects of ketosis on gout.) Anecdotally, this has been the experience for me; when I eat a paleo diet that doesn’t push me deep into ketosis, I generally feel much better regarding flare-ups. When I severely restrict carbs for a couple of days, however, I have a pretty good chance of getting a really bad flare-up.

  29. Tom says

    I had my first gout attack in 1983. After that I had several attacks per year each often lasting several weeks. Most doctors prescribe too small of doses of Allopurinal (i. e., 100 mg). I met a doctor in 1988 who put me on a 300 mg dose and I haven’t had a gout attack since. I did eliminate all organ meats ( the guts here in Wyoming). I didn’t change anything else even my beer. So I’ve been on a one/day 300 mg pill for over 25 years now. Allopurinal is cheap ($10-$15/quarter). I’ve never had any side effects from it, nor have I come across any studies showing adverse side efects. I’ve elimated the attacks and the dread of always worrying about what I’m about to consume.

    • Honora says

      Where I work, a professor of Rheumatology (Lisa Stamp) is doing a trial on higher dose allopurinol. She’s also been doing a study on the variant of gout induced by fructose. If I can catch up with the research nurse, I’ll add to what I’ve written here. The Prof is way too busy to talk to me!

      • Trundle says

        Allopurinol can be helpful if your UA is outside the reference range. But as your UA falls and approaches 6.0, you reach a point of diminishing return. I really don’t think it does anything if your UA is below 6.3. The reason why is easy if you understand how gout is triggered. It’s not the high uric acid. It’s the change in the uric acid caused by stress, purines, etc. So, let’s say you have a flower vase placed on a set of stairs. If it’s placed on 4th stairs, and there is some rumbling, the vase might fall and break into pieces. But on 1st and 2nd, it might survive the fall. The likelihood of breaking increases as you go high. But the fall is caused by the rumbling, not by being high up on the stairs.

        But if the vase already has a crack, then it might break from the 1st or 2nd stairs. These are the people with genetic vulnerability. These people get gout even when their uric acid is 4.5. It’s less frequent than when your UA was 14.0. But gout attacks still happen at that level of uric acid, which is a very low level for men. The reference range does not distinguish between men and women and the low limits of 3.5 is for women, who usually do not get gout unless they’re old.

  30. Phyllis Ursetta says

    I have started the Paleo diet and have been taking Allopurinol for a high uric acid condition. It isn’t acute and doesn’t affect me in any particular area. Since being on the Paleo diet I have noticed an increase in stiffness and soreness in my fingers and in every joint in my body. It reminds me of how I felt when I was first diagnosed with high uric acid. That is how I felt before I was prescribed Allopurinol. I think this way of eating has caused me some problems with Uric Acid. What do you think?

  31. Matthew says

    While this article makes very plausible arguments for why the paleo diet doesn’t cause gout, this is a real problem with the diet. Perhaps the diet is miscalculating something? The paleo buff at our workplace who is 27, super fit, and has a popular paleo blog has been out all week with a nasty gout problem. All of us at work can’t stop laughing at the foolishness of overly extreme diets.

    • Chris Kresser says

      A sample size of one does not prove anything. That’s why we have research studies with hundreds or thousands of people. You can’t draw a conclusion like you have from a single person; doesn’t work that way.

  32. Honora says

    I was talking to a rheumatology researcher today. The genes that cause some individuals to have higher levels of uric acid when they overconsume fructose have been identified. In her professor’s study, she is using a breath test to identify the individuals with this phenotype. I asked her if it was related to the gout issues I see in the Pacific Island community. She said that is a different genetic pathway and pathophysiology and was exhibiting before the introduction of the European diet but is now exacerbated by our diet. That issue for the Pacific Islanders is that they don’t get rid of uric acid to the same extent as normal folks. I’ll try to find out how common the fructose/uric acid genotype/phenotype is and report back.

  33. Rumble says

    If you’re doing low-carb, high fat, your refuge is dairy. That is your refuge. But you don’t have to stay low-carb. You can be high carb Paleo and start eating yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes, taro, yuca, etc. Short-term, high purine foods definitely trigger gout. There is no question about that. So no bacon, organ meats, lots of redmeat, or sardines. I would eat flounders, pork chops, chicken, etc. that do not have as much purines per gram. Also, not too much spinach or vegetable sources of purines. Long-term, though, the cause is fructose. If you limit your fructose intake, your UA will go down.

    The other side of the equation is acidity: it’s your body’s acidity caused by highly acidic foods like sodas, juice, processed flour, etc. Especially sodas and including diet sodas, dip them in a pH strip and see how acidic they become. There are 2 triggers to gout: (1) uric acid volatility and (2) acidity. If you can keep your body alkaline, you will have less attacks. Drink a glass of water with 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda or mineral water before going to sleep and when you wake up. That will keep your body alkaline at night when gout attacks typically occur. When you have an attack, drink a glass of water 1/2 tsp baking soda every 15 minutes. That has about 5 times more effective than drinking water. Gout medications generally do not work. Your solution is to reduce your UA by reducing sugar/fructose and keeping your body alkaline by eating lots of vegetables and limiting organ meats and redmeat.

  34. April says

    I stumbled across this post searching for gout caused by sardine consumption. I’ve been eating a paleo diet for 9 months now, but just recently introduced sardines (I’ve eaten them about 4 times in a couple of weeks). I woke up a few days ago with what I think is a gouty flare up in my knuckle on my hand. Have you heard of this happening from a few servings of sardines?

    • VT says

      I’d be interested too- have been eating relatively clean for most of the year, and have recently introduced sardines for the oils… Yesterday I ate pâté for the first time in years, and today I would appear to have gout. I can’t believe my levels would be so high to cause gout from one meal? I also can’t believe I ate sardine for lunch today. That was BEFORE I started googling around – grrr!

  35. Andre says

    Hi guys i suffer from gout and it drives me crazy , my knee flares up with fluid then goes to my ancles . Can some one plz help me with what food to avoid and im only 39 years old to youne for this but what can i do

  36. craig pickles says

    first time commenting so sorry if I ramble a little. Anyway I am 47 and a diabetic for 12 years I have been experimenting with diets for years and have had success in curing all my metabolic syndrome issues except the blood sugar which is stubbornly high. Anyway to date I have lost a very slow 141 pounds in weight, now weigh 242 at 6 feet 1. OK to the point. The most effective diet for me is low carb high protein and good ie natural fats. The problem I have is everytime I begin to get good weight loss I get gout like symptoms! Not gout because no chrystals have ever been found but gout like. I think I have found the reason at long last as after a few months weight maintainance I went back on the low carb and tested both for blood sugar and keytones. It took a while but I went into keytosis finally and started to shed a few more pounds. After about 3 weeks the pains and feeling of inflammation began again. My blood sugar was now in a good range and I was in full keytosis. So after a lot of research I find that the excretion path for uric acid is the exact pathway shared by keytones! So I have an idea that when I get into keytosis this blocks my ability to clear uric acid from my body which eventually builds up and then triggers systemic inflamation to the point that I can no longer walk! The last time I had such an attack meds did not help but I eventually switched to high carb and it cleared up, but with high carbs stimulating the ensuing high blood glucose levels that I must avoid. Now I am testing this by blowing myself out of keytosis to clear the pathway in the hope that the signs will also clear. My plan is then to go back into keytosis for 2 weeks then back out for a few days to again free up the pathway. I hope this will enable me to continue to lose weight whilst balancing my uric acid and keytone excretion. Anyway I’ll see what happens. Any one else tried something like this and if so how did it work out? Is there an optimal number of days to clear out the uric acid? thanks

    • Sharon says

      Hey Craig, When I got my urine tested at the doc’s, they said I had 2.0 ketones which meant that I may have been in ketosis. Urine is really not the best indicator, blood tests are. Anyway, my uric acid level was 7.6.
      I have started adding some sweet potato a few times a week but not going overboard. I am trying to keep out of diabetes and I’m bummed that the LCHF diet may push up the UA levels.
      I need to find out what ‘s going on with my thyroid as that could be responsible for high UA too.

      • says

        All this ridiculous self diagnosis made in ignorance! Most of you need to stop your daft limited diets and consult a decent medical practitioner! What a load of self indulgent clap trap!

  37. TC says

    I recently came back to a Paleo diet last week. This week I have experienced my first ever bout of gout. The doctor has essentially ordered me to cut all animal protein until my symptoms subside and has all but said my body cannot tolerate animal protein. His belief is that I need to be on meds the rest of my life if I choose to continue eating meat. What I am wondering is whether or not I really need to be reducing my fruit intake?

    I don’t want to be on meds and I want to continue to eat meat, but I definitely don’t want to live with gout.


    • Sharon says

      TC..from what I hear, the meds for gout are deadly and have very dangerous side effects.
      Do whatever you can to avoid them!

  38. Rick says

    I’ve suffered from Gout for about 15 years. The frequency of my attacks has little to do with diet — that is to say that eating purine-rich foods do not, in and of themselves, cause an attack. What I HAVE seen is that following a period of major physical/mental stress — usually about a week — and low hydration, certain purine rich foods will act as a trigger to bring on an attack. So, the stress and dehydration are the precursors — probably dropping my resistance so that the purine is not being flushed from my system.
    Staying hydrated and focusing on breath will usually ward off an attack.

    • Andrew says

      Thanks for the advice. Kinda the conclusion I’ve been arriving at myself (first attack about 6 yeas ago now). I find having a couple of glasses of wine late at night is the surest way for me to get a stiff big toe the next morning, but I guess that’s probably just dehydration.

    • Teresa says

      This totally makes sense to my first gout attack last week. I was very busy & stressed, drinking a couple glasses of water instead of my normal 6-8 cups, & I had 3 days of crazy eating of rich foods (I’m normally low carb). I gained 4 lbs that weekend & had my first gout attack. (before going to bed my toe felt like it needed to be cracked, next morning the toe was swollen & painful).

  39. pam says

    my mom in her 70 has had gout & mildly high blood pressure. otherwise, she is in reasonable health.
    she is slightly overweight (she looks more motherly than fat)

    she is not a big meat eater nor does she eat too much sugary junk or packaged food (compared with SAD), except she probably eats too much wheat (bagels, bread, pasta/noodle) & peanuts. she does not drink soft drink. she has about 2 servings of fruits. so not much fructose.

    every time she has thick chicken broth when eating out. it’s guaranteed she would have a severe attack.
    she insists it’s chicken. but i suspect it’s something else MSG? flour? HFCS? (i have asked her to try home made clear chicken broth so make sure it’s not chicken. but she does not eat chicken soup anymore)

    i suspect she is gluten intolerant & may have leaky gut. i have been trying to convince her to eat less wheat w/ little success.

    any idea?

    • Saytan says

      Gout is not normally understood as autoimmune. More likely is she’s genetically susceptible to gout. How high is her uric acid? It may not be all that high; those who’re genetically vulnerable have a problem excreting uric acid so even normal or mildly elevated uric acid could instigate gout. Another possibility is the acidity of what she’s eating. Fructose is not an immediate instigator of gout. Fructose is a long-term cause of gout and it’s usually seen in high uric acid. Like I said, short term, gout is definitely driven by purines and alkaline and acid imbalance in those who’re genetically vulnerable. I’d get her uric acid and pH tested (through urinalysis). If her UA isn’t high, she has no choice but to restrict purines. If her pH is low, she could increase that by eating more fruits and vegetables and possibly supplementing with baking soda / sodium biocarbonate.

  40. Scott says

    Great article. I had gout constantly for 7 years from my early 30’s. All the medication I was given by “health experts” only relieved the pain but never got rid of the problem. I have been paleo for 1 year and have had no trace of gout yet I eat more red meat and seafood than I ever have. Paleo Rocks.

  41. says

    My Husband just had a bad episode of Gout that took him to the ER. The Doctor asked if he had been under a lot of stress because that triggers Gout as well. Has anyone else heard this theory? By the way – yes, he had been under a ton of stress, but really?

  42. Adam says

    I have suffered with month gout problems for a couple years. Pop a few indomethacin and go on with life. Since switching to a high protein primal/paleo diet I have not had a flare up in five months. Cheers

  43. Pete says

    My brother in law has a uric acid problem ( gout) and struggled with it for a couple years with meat substitutes (all grains !!) and medication but finally tried paleo and now is gout free. It worked great for him and he’s still not even very omega 3/6 aware yet.

  44. Sally says

    Very low-carb paleo (restricting all carbs) cured gout and other symptoms, not only in myself, but unrelated others. (Low-carb/high-fat diet, lots of meat and high fat dairy, otherwise all paleo.)
    I suspect it may have something to do with insulin resistance, as it responds so well to lowering carbs (and omega 6 fats).

  45. Phocion T says

    I’ve suffered gout attacks for 20 years, some bad, some minor. I’ve been “paleo” for about three years and have had minor flare-ups since but it was always due to falling off the wagon for a day or two. However, I had a seriously bad attack, the worst ever, during the summer of 2012; I was crippled for seven weeks. I actually had to buy a wheel chair plus I had to get my crutches out of storage. Man, it was bad.

    Eating paleo was, I believe, tangential to this attack. I had lost about 20 pounds fairly rapidly, thanks to paleo. When I was doing my initial research into the diet I came across a couple of papers indicating weight loss, or “rapid weight loss” was linked to gout. One study was a group of men having served in WW2 that had been on starvation menus as POWs, and another study was of a mix of adult men. Both studies were halted after some of the subjects suffered gout attacks.

    The theory is that rapid weight loss causes all the toxins in the fat cells to be dumped into the system too rapidly and too long for the body’s various filters to keep up with the onslaught. Why gout no one said but this theory makes sense until a better theory comes along.

  46. sheila g says

    I suspect things may be more complicated than “eat this, experience that”. It is know that uric acid levels will climb in hypothyroidism. If your diet is inducing a lowering of your metabolism (most common when we decrease caloric intake), whether paleo, gluten free, vegan, or whathaveyou, then gout is a distinct possibility. This helps to explain why some do great on paleo/etc. while others do not. The most critical thing is the effect on the metabolism. Real food IS good, but when people change their diets and then experience weight loss they are intentionally under eating. While good for weight loss there is risk of damage to the metabolism. The key is to make these changes while preserving metabolic rate (the $64K question). As with everything, YMMV, and the role of your body constitution is critical.

  47. ktb says

    My husband’s first disabling gout attack with massive swelling and pain that left him hobbling was the year we started buying our beef in bulk from Costco. We were also eating a lot of corn and other GF grains, as we all also live with Celiac disease. I did a ton of online research because I knew that medications to get rid of the symptoms without finding the cause was NOT what either one of us wanted. Even though all his family was telling him to go to the doctor and get on the medications. I found out the connection between inflammation and gout, and so we switched to grass fed beef and went grain free. He has not had another gout attack that severe since then. If he accidentally eats something that has some gluten in it, too much sugar or some grains—he will start to get the beginning pain of another gout attack in his big toe. Inflammation is definitely the MAIN factor in gout, and if you can remove the inflammation triggers, then you remove the gout triggers. Interestingly, though, the chicken we eat in abundance is corn/soy fed and he has not problems whatsoever with gout from that.

  48. Karl says

    I would frequently get gout a lot growing up as a teen. I rarely get it anymore. My diet definitely wasn’t paleo growing up but instead something along the lines of the typical American diet—high in vegetable oils, cereal grains, fast food/school lunches, etc. At the time I did eat a lot of meat though, and I also overate. Now I don’t strictly eat paleo as I consume a lot of dairy and other things like sweet potatoes and seldomly imported European breads that are pasteurized and don’t contain any wheat. I like lemons, and they reduce uric acid, so maybe that’s why I don’t get gout anymore? I’m betting my diet was just too acidic back then.

  49. kat says

    I wish I knew these things while my mom was still alive. She suffered from gout flare ups quite often and always blamed seafood which was probably one of the few healthy things she ate. She ate a lot of sweets and ended up dying from heart and lung failure although she NEVER smoked!

    THANKS CHRIS for informing us of this often misunderstood condition! I will forward it to my husbands co-worker who also suffers from gout. Keep up the good work!

  50. says

    Great gout reference article Chris. Having just done some reading around gout another aspect to the puzzle I hadn’t considered was sleep apnea. If anyone is interested in the biochemistry link between sleep apnea triggering a gout attack I’d read this and this.

  51. ML says

    I have high uric acid, off the charts. It increased, nearly doubled, when I switched to low carb/LCHF, but decreased back to “normal” high levels in maybe six months. Never had gout.

    However, I have high levels of c-peptid, but low blood sugar (even before low carb). I have no results from blood tests in childhood, but I think my problem with insulin originates from being stressed since childhood.

  52. Christine says

    Sometimes I wonder what would happen to any study, if two or three paleo eaters were amongst the participants. Would probably blow up the results 😉

  53. says

    I suffered with gout from the age of 24. I had terrible attacks. I remember one left me unable to walk properly for around three months as it just wouldn’t go. Since I have been studying nutrition etc i refused to take a pill for the the rest of my life so set about trying to fix it myself. High sugar, especially fructose is bad, beans and lentils unfortunately seem to trigger gout, especially black beans! Cooked spinach, I seem fine juicing it, alcohol bad, although I still drink from time to time with no problem…. now…. gluten bad. Too much organ meat and is start to feel it, but I think this is because I’m already broken. The most important things for me is, keep well hydrated, taking up juicing is great, lower sugar, lower alcohol especially beer, lower cooked spinach, rhubarb and others hight oxalate foods, and get plenty of naturAl anti inflammatory foods. I also made a concoction that literally made my gout disappear and has never been felt fully since. You can email me for that if you want the recipe

    • Linda Moody says

      Hi John, i’m interested in having your concoction recipe. Please email me. Thanks, very grateful. – Linda

    • J says

      John — I’d like the recipe. Thanks. Limiting alcohol and drinking tons of water has helped me. As well as tart cherry juice. I also supplement with magnesium (for other reasons) and have heard that may break up uric acid crystals.

      • says

        Ok, sorry for delay. The concoction. now remember that you need to increase fluids in general too (the most simple and important thing i believe helps).
        the recipe was one i modified from a guy (Tony Pantalleresco) from Youtube here is the link (not sure i am allowed? but ill try http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvGD6IvS97E )

        But this is what i done….

        chopped one whole pineapple, (Tony uses papaya in the video) then covered it in Cinnamon powder, ginger powder and Turmeric (lots of each) in a glass jar and let it sit for 7 to 10 days in the fridge. I then blended it with some aloe juice and enough pure water to get it started (I would use more fresh juiced pineapple/grapefruit when i do it again)

        I took it in small doses. I took 5 Serrapeptase tabs and a couple of ounces of this on a Friday night. I the same the next morning. I was unable to put smart shoes on to go out that night and i was going to get a taxi with the g/f because i could not walk. I knocked back my last 5 serrapeptase and the last two ounces or so of that concoction. A couple of hours later I felt a fizzing and and shortly after it was TOTALLY fine. I went out that night, in the tight shoes, walked a couple of miles to the bar and even had some beers to celebrate ( I know I know) and that was three years ago in July. Not had a bout since. Now I have learned some triggers (black beans in particular, and beans/lentils in general if consumed too much,) and the fact i don’t hardly ever eat bread or grains, or any fructose definitely all help. But I promise you I have never felt anything like this drink. I hope it helps even one other person. Now, I will have to make another batch and see if it works for Uveitis!!!! Good Luck

    • MARK HENISEY says

      I would be interested in that recipe that knocked out the gout if it is still available. I am a new introductee to the gout experience and can say I would really like to avoid it. Thanks

  54. j says

    Adopting Paleo does not mean that we all somehow have the same genetic dispositions. Everyone will vary and have to navigate what works for them. Starchy rice and potatoes or dairy send me to the moon, but I can eat my weight in spinach. The real answer: pay attention!

  55. Bill says

    I believe that it can take more than 3 years to heal the damage. That’s my anecdotal experience.
    I seem to have suppressed my alopecia areata and osteo arthritis, but it did take time. I’ve been gluten/gliadin free for 7 years now. Also no industrial oils, only evoo and grass fed butter. My only carbs are basmati rice and potatoes. Never looked back.

  56. Sharon says

    I eat Paleo but I do add grass fed and some raw dairy products.
    I never had a uric acid test, but I decided to get one a few months ago.
    The result was 5.5. I understand that the optimal level is 3-5.5, so I got concerned.
    I eased back on liver and sardines and just eat about once a month.
    I have no gout symptoms so I would appreciate if someone could put my mind at ease and let me know if these numbers are worrisome.
    Also, I don’t eat much fruit, just some berries or a little grapefruit a few times a month.

    • Michelle says

      I would ignore the numbers and go with how you feel! As a NP in emergency dealing with many people presenting in severe distress, uric acid levels don’t often correlate to pain or clinical presentation. They can be normal. If you have inflammation, then avoid the foods that cause it. If you have no pain, never had, then why be bothered by a set of textbook values that have no relation to how you feel? Don’t worry, that just adds needless stress. Just keep eating clean and no sugar! :)

      • Sharon says

        Thanks Michelle. Well..some time has passed and I took another UA test. Now, my number is 7.6!
        The doc’s people said to avoid red meat, but trust me, they are so undereducated it can make you cry.
        I came across Dr. Robert Su (www.carbohydratescankill.com). He also had a UA issue and he advised to use lemon and water, acv or cherries. He also found a correlation between coconut oil and this UA situation. He advised I dump the coconut oil and if I must cook with it..only tiny amounts. I am trying all of these and cutting severely back on my organ foods. I am trying to stave off prediabetes and I don’t want to just eat vegetarian now. I finally got my A1C to 5.2 and I’d love to go lower.

        I saw a video that uses Calcium Ion to ionize water. I may try that too.

        So far, no gout attacks, but I have read that even without an attack, high UA levels can cause stroke and heart attack. I also read that menopausal women and low thyroid (my profile) will also raise UA levels. Scary stuff!

  57. Carrie says

    Thank you so much for putting this all together and giving the bigger picture…which you do so often and so well! It is much appreciated.

  58. Don Cross says

    I believe you are right on here with what you talk about but frankly I believe the culprit is even more deeply rooted in ALL the refined STUFF (beyond fructose) that we have in our diet. I am not a nutritionist nor doctor nor anyone with scientific credentials. I am in fact someone who has better credentials than that. I have been living with this condition for 40 years!! I get it in every lower Joint in my body! I never knew what it was, because one time I’d get it after eating too much Ham, then it was shell fish, then it was soup (ham stock) on and on. About 15 years ago (after I got intimate with Mr Atkins….) I didn’t get the gout in spite of all that purine based stuff. All the meats, all the organ meats, all the shell fish, spinach, mushrooms, none of that caused me ANY trouble. Then I decided to try out my assumption. I spent a week eating all sorts of the white things that are contrary to the (Atkins) Paleo way and by the fourth day I was limping and the 7th day I was in bed looking for something to remove my foot with. BTW this discussion also applies with many friends with Kidney stones…

    Since I have had a number of friends who have been on Allopurinol to manage the problem. Some of them have heeded my advice and Lo they have totally quite the drug and most of them have had few if any recurrences. Thanks for addressing this. Nice to know that my personal experience looks exactly what the clinicians suspect.

  59. lance says

    I thought I had gout last month. I increased my walking and my big toe started hurting and the next day my foot swelled up. I cut way back on my walking and the condition went away in a week. I’m 63 now, so I cannot use the same gradient I use to when younger. Inches instead of yards now. Also I noticed my 3 year old (air-soled) sneakers were flat. So, no gout and just over doing it. I have to mention, I have read (online) the best of the best in alternative or natural health and nutrition over the past few years. There was too many different opinions, so I had to use my gut-instincts and pick a couple of what I thought were the leaders. Even so, there are still too many pieces of the puzzle that are not going together. I feel Chris, that you are starting to put the pieces together somehow, maybe through a mix of experience, intelligence and common sense. I appreciate this unique-perspective you show, so keep up the good work.

  60. Adam Skillin says

    Would the same logic apply to someone who gets oxalate-containing kidney stones? A good friend has chronic kidney problems and I keep telling him to cut fructose and added sugars while his doctors keep telling him to stay away from basically every nutrient-containing food due to purines.

    • Beth says

      There may be other relevant factors as well, but I suggest your friend transition slowly to a low oxalate diet. See my comment above for a source for very current info on oxalates.

  61. patty says

    How does the many high oxalate PALEO foods, wherein the oxalates can form crystals and accumulate in tissue, affect this gout discussion?

  62. Jaime Kerns says

    I must respectfully disagree with the conclusion of this article with my husband’s experience as my proof.

    This past January 2nd, we began a nutritional challenge (friendly competition @ our local crossfit) that followed the Whole 30 food plan.

    Within a week, my husband’s right toe began to swell and cause discomfort, but we still maintained eating and exercising.
    By week 2, he could hardly walk and I demanded that he go to the local quick care. He had severe gout and was given a shot to help reduce inflammation as well as pills to take.
    It took him over 2 weeks to completely recover.

    All of our meat (except seafood) was from a local farm and was grassfed. That first week, we ate eggs and bacon w/ guacamole and salsa for breakfast, lunch was a variety of crockpot meals ( pork and beef from the farm), and dinner was seafood (shallots, fish, shrimp), cauliflower in some form, asparagus, and other veggies.

    I share this with you to say that the meals I provided him literally created the perfect storm. Every item on the list to avoid or limit we ate, and ate them everyday that week. (I buy in bulk.)

    In addition to the foods to be careful, he started out overweight and a study led by Dr. Hyon K. Choi, reported in the March 11, 2004 issue mentioned that being overweight and doing a ‘severe diet’ can raise the uric levels in the blood.

    So what I’m trying to say is, people considering paleo need to be mindful when creating their meal plans. We have chosen to continue eating paleo and we BELIEVE in eating this way but we have modified what we eat and when. Obese readers need to be careful in their exercise and eating so that they can avoid this very painful affliction.

    • says

      I would think that if it happened that quickly (w/i 1 week) after starting the Whole30, that your husband likely already had a higher level of uric acid in his blood and the change to a high purine diet triggered the acute gout attack. This would make sense in light of the study Chris referenced about high purine diets being associated with more frequent gout attacks in those with prior gout diagnosis.

      I think Chris’s point was that eating high purine foods should not directly CAUSE gout in an otherwise healthy person. But if you’re already at risk for gout symptoms from a past history of hyperuricemia, or have reduced kidney function for a variety of reasons, then a sudden and significant increase in purine containing foods could in fact raise your risk of gout symptoms.

      Definitely a good point to be aware of though, especially if you have a history of gout or other risk factors like obesity, metabolic syndrome, etc.

      • Alex says

        This is exactly correct.

        If you have gout, AND THEN, you get IBD, AID, Crohn’s, etc. etc. and begin a Paleo or SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) your risk for a flare up is higher because those diets will make drastically shift your intake of purine. (SCD, is red meat, fish and chicken all day and night).

        I got a gout flare up battling Crohn’s with SCD.

        Really tough situation to be in, just gotta get more aggressive and careful with your intake, you have to… no other options or scenarios.

    • rumble says

      If you’re genetically vulnerable to gout, a Paleo diet high in purines will cause gout. I believe what Chris is saying is that the long-term cause of gout is over fructose consumption. But if you’ve already had gout attacks, are overweight, have high uric acid levelsand cannot excrete uric acid quickly enough, then you can get gout. But I don’t think a Paleo diet will cause gout in those who hasn’t developed it already. Check your uric acid but that’s not everything. I would also check my urine pH: make sure it’s above 6.5 or so. I drink a 1/2 tsp of baking soda everynight which causes my body to become alkaline at night when typically gout attacks occur. I rarely get gout attacks anymore. Two things are need to have gout attacks: (1) high uric acid and (2) acidity. There is plenty of people with one or the other who never get gout attacks. Only 1 in 10 of those with high uric acids have gout. 90% spend their lives not knowing what gout is.

  63. Anne G. says

    I started eating Paleo over a year ago to support my diabetic boyfriend. I haven’t had gluten or dairy for over a year, eat only organic veggies and grass fed beef, pork, free range, etc.
    I have had severe arthritis in my hands for over years. Cannot eat nightshade plants.
    By last summer, the gout flares in my hands and then feet were getting worse and worse. I was eating salmon 4-5 times/week, liver, tongue, tons of spinach and cauliflower as part of my diet. By December, I would cry because the pain was so severe in my hands. I finally went to a “Functional Medicine” doctor who picked up on it immediately. Have limited animal protein considerably and reduced eating other items that were on the list as contributors to “gout”. The severe pain is gone. I can eat the assorted aggrevators on occasion but stick more to chicken and white fish for animal protein. While I still eat beef, it’s once a month instead of once or twice a week. I rarely have major attacks unless I over do the foods that I shouldn’t. So while Paleo is still my eating style, have had to modify to deal with my gout issues.

  64. says

    After three days of anomalous and excruciating scapular muscle back pain I found some relief through massage. It was so bad I had to sleep sitting up and even that didn’t really help my labored breathing. That was rough enough but on day four, just as the back pain was subsiding, I awoke to find that my ankle was painful and swollen. My kinesiologist immediately sent me to a podiatrist who popped the most surprising question, “do you have gout in your family?” I was shocked. Not only was I not genetically predisposed, I eat cleaner than most (non-neurotic paleo plus grass-fed butter/cheese and occasional corn and rice). Tests for uric acid levels in my blood are pending but all signs point to my first-ever gout flare up. Now I wish we’d checked CRP and IL-6 levels too.

    The week prior to the flare-up hadn’t been particularly typical as I never normally consume fruit smoothies, gluten-free goodies, or drink that much. Such was that week. While not off the rails, it wasn’t picture perfect either. Regardless, there’s nothing like the remarkable pain of gout to inspire better habits. I wish I could do that week over just to see how much diet played a role versus the very real stress of back pain.

    I’m deeply curious to find out what exactly was the cause and am wondering what might be done beyond my normal good habits to never ever feel that pain again. Does having a gout flare-up make me more vulnerable to having another or can I chalk this up as a one-time deal provided I stay on the paleo path? I’m on the hunt! Are there any stricter paleo folks who have seen gout flare-ups do to pain alone?

    Thanks for what you do Chris.

  65. Tucker says

    I have been 100% paleo for 2 years. I do not drink alcohol, soda, smoke or eat sugary snacks.

    Over the Christmas holidays I have a severe case of gout that lasted for about a month. It was in my big toe on one foot and then would move to my ankle on my other foot and then back again. The pain was a 9 out of 10.

    What is causing this to happen?

    • Andrew says

      I can sympathise with that 9 out 10 rating. Like walking on your eyeballs!
      Gout led me to Paleo, as I really didn’t want to go on meds. Persevered with fairly strict Paleo (with plenty of safe starches) for a year or so, but was still getting mysterious pains in my knees, and regular stiffness in my big toe. Finally gave in and went on the meds. That was about 6 months ago, and knees and toes better than they’ve been in years. I’m sure Paleo doesn’t cause gout, but I’m skeptical now that it alone cure it. Would really like to find a way to get off the meds though. Any suggestions?

      • Tucker says

        I am tweaking my diet to stay off any meds. Reduced bacon intake and eating more chicken. I am beginning to believe that it may be a hormone issue and am pursuing that angle.

    • says

      How about fructose intake? You didn’t mention this. Some people are very affected by fructose even the smallest amounts. Take a look at the FODMAP diet.

      • says

        You might like to try alkalized water (you don’t need to buy a electronic water ionizer for this) there are alternatives to getting this kind of water.
        I have seen seriously good results from people just drinking this kind of water.

      • Tucker says

        Very little. I only eat fruit occasionally and no sugary drinks of any kind.

        I will try out the alk water too. Anything to get my health and active lifestyle back.

        • says

          Fructose subsets – Fructans & Galactans (Oligosaccharides) are in some vegetables too.
          High Content Foods are:
          Beetroot, Asparagus,Cabbage,Broccoli,Onion, Garlic, Jerusalem Artichoke
          Could be worthwhile taking them out of you diet temporarily and reintroducing them one by one to see if you have a flare up.

  66. Heather H says

    My husband has a long history of gout which runs in his family. Since starting paleo two years ago he has not had an attack or needed to take his gout meds. He also had to decrease his blood pressure dosage though that is another post.

  67. J says

    I eat monster amounts of spinach on Paleo and have had no problem. I’ve seen it as a major contributor to gout.
    I also got off BP and statins after adopting Paleo, talk about a trade off for some incremental propensity for gout. I’ll take it.

    • Honora says

      On the topic of delicious spinach…met an oxalate expert yesterday – a prof at our local agricultural university. He said most of the oxalate in foods is destroyed by boiling. We have a weird little South American pink shiny potatoey thing here in New Zealand, which we call yams and they’re very high in oxalates in the skin. He said baking them unpeeled is the worst thing to do as we love to eat them in this concentrated form. Off-topic but thought I’d pass it on.

      Oxalates are found in spinach, swiss chard (very popular here in NZ), rhubarb and the yam thingies. They can cause kidney stones in some folks. All things in moderation and plenty of fluids he says. The worst offenders are the Saudi folk who don’t drink enough for their climate – they get annual practice in Ramadan of going without water in daylight hours after all.

      • Beth says

        According to another oxalate expert and researcher, Susan Owens, oxalate content in some foods is so high that it cannot be cooked or soaked or boiled out of it to a degree sufficient enough to not cause problems for people who cannot handle oxalates well. She manages a free and open Yahoo group called Trying Low Oxalates where you can find lots of current info on oxalates, including a continually updated searchable spreadsheet of the oxalate content in foods.

      • Hunter says

        I have eaten strict Paleo for 8 yrs…..as well as CrossFit. Just had my first attack of gout that was miserable. I believe that in retrospect that what caused my attack was that I ate copius amounts of cooked spinach over a weeks time. This was due to me being sick of broc and asparagus. I eat tons of meat and I also drink beer. The only thing I changed was my intake of spinach. I think we are all different and we each have to find out what triggers it. My labs also came back as normal…. UA level was 5.5.

  68. Brandon G. says

    My dad has a history of gout and, at 39, I have long felt very minor symptoms similar to gout in one of my big toes. My dad has cautioned me on the paleo diet, though I follow it contrary to him anyways. Having said that, I’ve always been a bit worried. Now I am less so, so thank you. :)

    It makes sense that it’s more the SAD to blame than the meat-component itself — seems like that’s mostly the case with other diet-related issues as well so why not gout?

  69. says

    Couldn’t agree more Chris. I’d add that there is a reason why fructose in ”the complete package” is pretty harmless. Tart cherries will alleviate if not completely do away with the gout issue. Furthermore a paleo diet is not a meat heavy diet. One thing has always puzzled me though : why is it that gout so often happens to affect the big toe joints? Surely it cannot be gravity.

    • mhikl says

      So true, James. Even the black cherries, fresh or from the tin or as pure juice work. For health I use a black cherry pure juice, not from concentrate but from 2.5 lbs cherries from Super Store. Also celery water (and seeds) and pineapple juice work in this regard. I remember 3 members of a men’s organisation who were suffering gout and told them about these helpful foods and the suggestion they drink enough water and cut back on sugars and high starches, all being relieved of their pain by next meeting. As Chris suggests it is the processed foods including junk and high starch products that may be at fault. I know that the smell and taste (UT advocates attest to this) of urine is far different when junk, starch and sugar are included in the diet in comparison to pure goods low in carbohydrates.

    • Don Cross says

      James to your comment about gravity, I have seen many docs about mine and all of them have told me that it IS gravity. If you look at other comments in the post you will see other folks talk about different areas, but the majority of affliction is in foot and ankle. Me.. I get it every where but MOST severely in my right great toe first knuckle..

      • Linda says

        I have eaten low carb paleo for almost 2 years. I occasionally have achiness in left bunion area, but never diagnosed with gout – uric acid levels are normal. It does not seem to be associated with any particular foods. However, I recently found that I have a structural misalignment on one side which puts more pressure on my left foot heel and great toe. You can test it by standing in bare feet and seeing where you feel the pressure on the bottom of your feet. Perhaps this plays a part in the “gravity” issues- especially if the “gout” is one-sided and that joint is constantly taking the hit for the body’s weight.

    • Nichole K says

      Actually, I’ve read that the crystals tend to form at lower body temperatures, and because the big toe is so far from the body where the temperatures are lowest, the crystals form there first.

      I actually have just self diagnosed with gout. I’ve been following paleo for some time but have only recently begun having symptoms.I’m thinking dehydration and inclusion of more seafood and sardines, along with stress, may be my triggers.

      Do you think drinking way more water and taking 500mg of vitamin C will be enough to keep it at bay? I’d really hate to cut sardines and seafood from my diet. =(

  70. says

    Great article! I’m a Naturopathic and Chinese Medical student and I’ve had the best success with the paleo diet over everything I’ve learned in school. I was researching breast cancer this week and found that omega 3 has been found to be a causative factor in preventing breast cancer. Since that link has been made, it would be appropriate to get a study done on conventionally raised meat vs grassfed meat. What if we could change our agricultural practices through the link of omega 6: omega 3 ratios to breast cancer? We want a ratio of 4:1 or better – conventionally raised meat gets as high as 21:1 and grassfed between 1:1 and 3:1.

    • says

      Good point about the difference in grass fed red meat and grain fed red meat. There are so many differences in these meats it wouldn’t be surprising if they did all sorts of strange things to the body.

  71. says

    I had taken allopurinol for over a decade and still experienced occasional gout flares. In 2011, I eliminated sugar from my diet, stopped taking allopurinol and I stopped having gout symptoms. In 2012, I went full paleo and had no gout issues the entire year! January 2013, I did paleo auto-immune protocol to support my wife’s efforts to further figure out her sensitivities and in week 3 of strict AIP, I had my first gout flare in almost 2 years. I’m not sure why it flared during a more strict approach. I’d love to never have a flare again, but once in 2 years with no meds on a Paleo approach is much better than 6 times a year with meds on a standard American diet.

    • Sandy says

      It’s very interesting that you experienced a gout flare during strict AIP. I’ve been “paleo” for over a year, and I just had a flare in January (after not having had one in several years). I was dealing with some stressful situations in January, and as a result I was lacking an appetite and not eating as much as I normally do. During the flare, I started reading as much as I could about the possible causes, and I came to the conclusion that I needed to start eating more, especially carbs. My stressful events have passed, I’ve been eating more regularly, and my gout has resolved. Now that I know what gout is, I realize that I’ve been having these attacks since I was 13 or 14 years old. At that age I was not eating any red meat, but I was anorexic and underweight. I’ve read that sudden weight loss can cause gout, so perhaps my body was metabolizing my own tissues due to lack of proper nourishment, and perhaps the increase in stress hormones was affecting my ability to excrete the excess uric acid. Or something like that. Anyway, that’s just my unsophisticated interpretation. Since the AIP is so restrictive, perhaps you were experiencing something similar?

      • says

        Hard to say what my trigger was. In the past, my triggers were heavy sugar load, alcohol, shellfish, and asparagus. With AIP, I had none of those things. I definitely wasn’t under much stress and found AIP to be relatively easy to follow through on, although much less convenient than standard paleo. I did drop 9 pounds in the first 2 weeks, back to my pre-holiday weight, then leveled out. I tracked everything I ate over the month and I took in 53% fat, 25% protein, and 22% carbs. Normally, I’m probably running about 30% carbs.

      • Jan says

        I have been on the AIP diet for a couple of months, because I have a number of autoimmune diseases. I was a very clean gluten free, dairy free, organic eater before AIP. Since then, I have had extreme immune flares…worst I have ever had. I also have had a gout attack. Go figure! I am eating a lot of veggies, avocados, free range chicken, grass fed meats and wild seafood with a little added fruit. I am not sure why this is so. Perhaps I need to add something back in?

        • Rickus says

          Hi Jan,

          Gout and AI issues can exist for different reasons.

          The gout would most certainly flare-up with increasing protein consumption as it sounds like you have done. So, decreasing purine intake is important for you.

          The AI issues could improve over time with both dietary approaches you have taken. However, even on the AIP your probable leaky gut may be allowing some invaders in to your body. The invaders might be okay in someone with a healthy gut and could be considered ‘normal human food’, but when the gut is leaky the rules change. If your newer dietary approach has in fact increased your AI symptoms, not just the gout, then something in the diet could still be causing a reaction. Certainly, emotional stressors may increase AI symptoms or gout by increasing systemic inflammation. Looking at sleep, comfortable exercise and relaxation techniques may be useful. It may take months for AI issues to subside, but be persistent with the lifestyle changes!

          • Jan says

            Thanks for the response. I have been tested for leaky gut and do have it along with damaged microvilli. I am also nutrient deficient. I have been gluten free and dairy free, egg free, corn free for years and eat a clean diet. I also take great vitamins (Pure Encapsulations), but still am deficient. I’ve been on a gut healing protocol for months, with no real improvement…increasing joint pain etc. I think I am going to try and lessen the red meat intake and eat more wild salmon and free range chicken to see if that helps the gout anyway. I have celiac, AS and Sjogren’s and Morphea (localized Scleroderma). I am the healthiest, non healthy person on earth!! Thanks again for your insight. I will continue on AIP for the next few months to see what happens.

            • Jan says

              Also, I am studying to get a Masters in Nutrition and Functional Medicine and have made this my life’s work. I hope to work with people with difficult immune problems, so I continue to scour the literature. Maybe it will help me in the end.

  72. Jen Houck says

    I have been eating low carb for 10 months now and am very close to losing 120 lbs. I have been reading about Paleo and have based many of our meals on the recipes I have found on various Paleo eating blogs. I too have been told by my doctor that I have elevated uric acid levels and given a huge list of foods to avoid – including most everything I eat! 2 years ago I did have a debilitating “attack” of some sorts that left me with curled and painful hands and severe joint pain that lasted for almost 2 weeks. He now thinks this may have been gout, although at the time nobody ever tested for it or mentioned it. I was treated with steroid shots. I began eating cleaner last May and have been basically ignored my doctor’s request to decrease eating foods that are high in purines and I am doing well despite. He is pleased with my weight progress but I have to admit going totally paleo has really scared me since his :”advise”. I really do believe that the elimination of grains from my diet has helped with my inflammation and think I will continue on course for now.

  73. Murray says

    I am 43 and have had two gout attacks. The doctor put me on Puricos until I discovered the paleo diet when I stopped taking it. I have been on the Paleo diet (albeit a little too loosely for my liking) for about six months now.

    In those six months I have almost cut gluten out, cut out chips and French fries and most other things that come in a packet or a box. I have substantially increased my intake of butter, cream and other healthy fats. Unfortunately I have very low cortisol so the results have not been as good as I had hoped, however both my bad cholesterol and my uric acid have dropped in the six month period. SO I would have to agree with your research through self analysis!

  74. says

    I always love that you address that it isn’t the type of food but the quality of the food that is important. Another great article I can utilize the information for my own patients.

    • Harald Tilgner says

      The facts for gout are what they are, however the cause of these conditions is a Significant Biological Special program of Nature (SBS = commonly referred to as cancer), called a “refugee or hospital biological conflict”. When there is an unexpected, isolating sudden shock experienced, called a DHS, a ‘lesion’ becomes visible on a brain CT scan in the brain stem. This indicates an active biological conflict in the collecting tubules of the kidneys, designed to diminish the excretion of urine for survival purposes. The uric acid in the blood is being recycled to form protein. So the body is kept from dehydration and starvation until the biological conflict is resolved, at which time the small tumors in the collecting tubules are removed by tuberculosis bacteria, if the individual was fortunate enough to harbor them at the time of the DHS. http://learninggnm.com .
      This condition, called a Syndrome, is quite serious, if any other biological conflict happens to be in the healing (resolved) phase.

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