I love cheese. From Gouda to Cheddar, Manchego to Blue Cheese, I enjoy all types. On crackers. With a glass of red wine. Lovely.
However, I have gout. And it’s bloody painful when it flares up. And to make matters worse, I read that cheese can trigger attacks. So I thought I’d investigate.
But first of all….
What Is Gout?
Gout is a form of arthritis. It occurs when there is a build-up of uric acid in the blood, which then forms crystals in the joints. These crystals cause pain, swelling and inflammation. Ouch.
The main symptom is severe joint pain. Gout often affects the big toe first, but can also affect other joints such as the ankles, knees, elbows, wrists and even gout in hands!
So What Does Cheese Have To Do With Gout?
Cheese is relatively low in purines. Purines are a natural substance found in our bodies and in some foods. They’re not all bad, but when there’s too much uric acid (as in gout sufferers) they can cause problems.
Basically, when you eat foods high in purines, your body breaks them down into uric acid. And as we now know, too much uric acid can lead to gout attacks.
So Is Cheese Bad For Gout?
The answer is, it depends.
If you have gout, then you could avoid eating large quantities of cheese higher in purines (or any other food high in purines). This is because it could trigger an attack.
However, most people find that they can eat cheese without any problems. So it’s really down to trial and error.
Also certain cheeses are higher in purines than others.
If you love cheese but you’re worried about gout, then why not try some of the lower purine cheeses? These include:
– Blue cheese (I love this stuff)
– Cottage cheese
– Ricotta cheese
– Cream cheese
Slightly Less Nice Cheese
Cheese higher in purines which you could limit (although still low in purines compared to most food) include:
– Limburger (the worst)
Although there hasn’t been many medical studies done on cheese and gout there have been a few.
- One study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition followed over 47,000 men for 12 years. They found that those who ate the most cheese had a lower risk of developing gout than those who ate the least.
- Another study by the Nurses’ Health Study followed over 80,000 women for 22 years. They found that those who ate the most cheese had a slightly higher risk of developing gout than those who ate the least.
- A different study by the Mayo Clinic followed over 600 gout sufferers for 12 years. They found that those who ate the most cheese were no more likely to have gout attacks than those who ate the least.
Gout specialist, Dr. Hyon Choi says that there is no definitive answer as to whether cheese is good or bad for gout.
Dr Choi stated, “For some individuals with gout, dairy products can trigger flares. For others, dairy products have no effect”.
However, he does say that it’s probably best to limit your intake if you’re prone to attacks.
If you enjoy your cheese then you don’t have to give it up entirely. Just be sensible about how much you eat, and if you do have a gout attack then there are plenty of natural treatments available.
If you suffer an attack and need fast gout relief then you should:
– Rest the affected joint
– Apply ice to reduce inflammation
– Take over the counter painkillers such as ibuprofen or naproxen (check with your doctor first if you’re on any other medication)
– Drink plenty of fluids, especially water
– Avoid alcohol, sugary drinks and foods high in purines
– Try a gout diet (more on this below)
Natural Gout Treatments
There are also many natural treatments for gout. These include:
– Cherries – studies have shown that cherries can help to reduce inflammation and pain. Eat a handful of fresh or frozen cherries a day, or drink cherry juice.
– Apple cider vinegar – this has many health benefits, one of which is reducing gout pain and inflammation. Mix 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with 8 ounces of water and drink 3 times a day.
– Turmeric – this spice has powerful anti-inflammatory properties which can help to reduce gout pain. Add turmeric to your food or take a supplement.
So, there you have it. Cheese isn’t necessarily bad for gout, but it’s best to eat it in moderation. And if you’re worried about triggering an attack, then try some of the lower purine cheeses. With a glass of wine of course. Bon appetit!
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