Bananas for Gout: Low in Purine, High in Vitamin C

Banana for Gout: Low in Purine, High in Vitamin C

The banana is one of the most popular fruits among Americans. A typical American eats two bananas per day! Banana is a good source of potassium (more than any other fruit), fiber, vitamin B6 and folate. However, it contains very little dietary fibre which means that your body does not absorb all the nutrients from these fruits.

In fact, according to the World Health Organization, eating too much dietary fibre increases the risk of developing several diseases such as colorectal cancer, heart disease and certain types of cancers.

High levels of uric acid are associated with many health problems including kidney stones, osteoporosis and gout. High blood pressure is another problem caused by high levels of uric acid in the body.

Gout is a condition where uric acid builds up in the joints causing painful swelling and stiffness. The symptoms include pain in the hands or feet, joint pains, loss of strength and numbness. Gout may affect both men and women equally. It affects around 1% of people over 65 years old.

When this happens, the body is unable to excrete these broken down purines leading to the development of gout.

Purines have different levels of toxicity and some types of food are worse than others. Hence, certain types of food are simply more likely to cause gout than others.

A diet low in purines is a very effective treatment for gout and works in most of the people. If you are suffering from gout, it is best to limit or avoid certain types of food as they may trigger an attack.

If you want to prevent or lower the risk of getting gout, then it is best to follow a low purine diet. There are many foods that are low in purines and you should try to eat a healthy and balanced diet including these food items.

Purines are found in high concentration in meats, seafood, and some vegetables. These foods include organ meats such as brains, liver, kidney, sweetbreads and heart. Seafood and fish such as anchovies, sardines, herring, mackerel and mussels also contain high levels of purines.

Purine-rich vegetables include dried peas and beans such as lentils, chickpeas, soybeans and peanuts. Other high purine vegetables include spinach, cucumbers, mushrooms and cauliflower.

Whilst there is no scientific evidence that very high purine diets can lead to gout, some doctors recommend that people with gout should avoid highly purine foods.

Fortunately, most people with gout do not have to avoid these foods as such foods usually contain low levels of purines. It is only people with a family history of gout or those who suffer from gout at an early age that need to be careful about purine intake.

Did you know?

Purines are also found in smaller amounts in other foods including dried fruits, yeast, liver, kidney, oats and wheat germ.

A diet low in purines must be balanced with adequate intake of essential amino acids, carbohydrates, fats and vitamins.

Purine rich foods should not be avoided completely as they are important for growth, development and maintaining a healthy mind and body.

Recommended Foods for a low Purine Diet

Foods Description Seafood Mussels, scallops, clams, oysters, shrimp, squid Vegetables Asparagus, avacado, banana peppers, bell peppers, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, kale, lettuce (all types), mushrooms, okra, onions, peas (fresh), potatoes (without skin), sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squash (all types), tomatoes, turnips, zucchini Fruits Apples, apricots, bananas (green), blueberries, cantaloupes, grapefruits, lemons, limes, mangoes, oranges (without skin), papayas, peaches, pears (fresh), pineapple, plums, prunes, raisins, strawberries, tangerines Dairy & Eggs Milk (1%), cheddar cheese (reduced fat), egg whites, fat-free yogurt (plain), mozzarella cheese (low fat), feta cheese (low fat), goat cheese (low fat), low-fat cottage cheese (creamed), low-fat ricotta cheese Nuts & Seeds Almonds, chestnuts, flaxseeds, peanuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, soybeans, sunflower seeds Meats, Poultry & Fish (choose lean cuts) Beef (round, top round, eye of round), buffalo, chicken (skinless), duck (without skin), goose (without skin), ham (lean), herring, lobster, mussels, oysters, pork (arm butt, center cut, loin, tenderloin, top loin), rabbit, shrimp, squid, turkey (dark meat), venison Dairy & Egg Substitutes Almond milk (unsweetened), coconut milk (unsweetened), rice milk (unsweetened) Sweets & Sweeteners Apple juice (unsweetened), brownies (made with applesauce, no-fat milk, egg substitute & vegetable oil), light bread (100% whole wheat), bran flakes cereal (unpromoted, no sugar added), corn flakes cereal (unpromoted, no sugar added), fat-free ice cream (vanilla), low-fat granola bars (check label), lollipops (sugarless), pancakes (plain, buckwheat), pita bread (whole wheat), rice cakes (unseasoned), rice crackers (unsalted), salsa (no added sugar), sugar substitute (comes in pill form, found near weight loss products on store shelves)

Foods to Avoid

Beware of the following foods which are high in purines.

Seafood Anchovies, herring, mackerel, smelt, tuna

Meat & Poultry Veal, duck, goose, leg (rams, mutton, other), liver (goats, sheep), mussels, octopus, pork (leg, shoulder), scallops, shrimp, snails

Vegetables Asparagus (especially the tips), cauliflower (especially the flowers), mushrooms, spinach

Fruits Apple juice (all types), dried apricots, dried dates, dried figs, prunes

Beverages Beer (all types), coffee (brewed from grounds or instant), wine (all types)

Dairy & Eggs Cheese (all types, soft and hard), Cottage cheese (all types), Egg substitutes, Puddings (chocolate, rice, tapioca)

Sweets & Sweeteners Honey, molasses, sugar (brown, white), syrups (barley, malt, maple, rice, raspberry, strawberry)

Nuts & Seeds Almond paste, brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, coconut meat, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, peanuts, walnuts

Meats, Poultry & Fish Bacon (back, regular cut), canned chicken soup (ready-to-serve), frankfurters, luncheon meats (all types), meats prepared with broth, pickled pork, sausage (all types), sardines

Grains Bran and other wheat or rice bran, corn (including popcorn), grits, oatmeal, pasta (macaroni, spaghetti, vermicelli), papaya, semolina, sorghum

Lactose Intolerance / Sensitivity

By adulthood, everyone has less lactase in their body than they did when they were babies and children. That doesn’t mean you have to avoid all dairy products though. It just means that you may start to have some digestive issues if you eat or drink a lot of them.

If this is an issue for you, try experimenting with different types of milk (skim, 1%, 2%, whole) and see if one agrees with you better than the others. Also, hard cheeses tend to have less lactose than other dairy products. Yogurt can be a good option as well since the lactose is partially broken down during the culturing process.

There are also lactase pills that you can take with dairy products that contain lactose to help digest it. These are usually available at most drug stores or grocery stores. Speak to your doctor before taking them, especially if you have a medical condition like Celiac’s Disease which is a sensitivity to gluten.

Gluten & Celiac’s Disease

Also called celiac sprue and gluten-sensitive enteropathy, celiac’s disease is an autoimmune disorder that damages the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing nutrients properly. The damage is caused by eating foods that contains the protein gluten which is found in many grains like wheat, barley and rye.

There are a lot of people who are “gluten sensitive” but don’t have full blown celiac’s disease. They experience many of the same symptoms like abdominal pain, diarrhea, malnutrition and weight loss.

However, if you have a mild case of gluten sensitivity it may just mean that you have to watch what you eat and keep track of the foods that contain gluten. It’s common for people with this sensitivity to have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).

Gluten can be found in foods that contain many “wheat” products like breads, pastas and cereals. Gluten can also be found in beer if it’s made with wheat, as well as many processed snacks, luncheon meats and condiments. Even soy sauce has gluten in it and many Asian sauces are thickened with wheat.

The best way to cure yourself of this condition is to simply eliminate all foods that contain gluten from your diet. Fortunately gluten is easy to spot since it’s found in many everyday foods. Once you’ve got gluten out of your diet, you should start to feel much better within a few days and notice a change for the better after two weeks.

If your condition is severe and you need help figuring out what you can and can’t eat, you should consult a nutritionist or dietitian who can help you plan out some safe meals.

Sugar

Everyone knows that too much sugar isn’t good for you. It can lead to weight gain, mood swings, increased health problems and a whole host of other issues.

If this is an issue for you or you have a loved one with this problem, make sure you keep track of how much sugar they’re eating or drinking on a daily basis. Some foods like yogurt, fruit and even vegetables have a high sugar content. Always read the labels and be aware of what you or your child is eating on a daily basis.

You should also be aware that there are many different names for sugar so if you see any of the following on a food label, put it back on the shelf:

1. Agave

2. Brown Rice Syrup

3. Cane Juice

4. Cane Sugar

5. Caramel

6. Confectioner’s Sugar

7. Dextrose

8. Evaporated Cane Juice

9. Fructose

10. Fruits in the Raw

11. Glucose

12. Golden Syrup

13. High-Fructose Corn Syrup

14. Honey

15. Jams and Jellies

16. Lactose

17. Maltodextrin

18. Malt Syrup

19. Maple Syrup

20. Molasses

21. Monk Fruit

22. Nutrasweet

23. Palm Sugar

24. Rapadura

25. Rice Syrup

26. Sorghum

27. Sucralose

28. Sugar alcohols: Erythritol, Glycerol, Isomalt, Lactitol, Maltitol, Mannitol, Sorbitol, Xylitol and others

Naturally, there are other ways of dealing with this issue besides giving up all the foods you enjoy.

If you’re a big sugar eater, you should start by taking small steps to cut back. For example, if you drink a can of soda every day, cut that out first. Then maybe cut out all the processed foods you eat. Cook your own meals at home and replace the fast food lunches with fresh vegetables and lean meat.

Exercising will also help keep your weight down as well as moderate your insulin intake. Any physical activity will help, but if you’re not used to exercising start slowly and build up your stamina.

You should also make sure you’re getting enough magnesium and potassium in your diet. These two minerals work together to keep your insulin levels in balance. Try eating pumpkin seeds, spinach, bananas and other foods high in these important nutrients.

It’s also good to keep your blood sugar levels stable by always eating slow-burning foods like complex carbs and lean proteins. Be sure to eat a high-fiber diet and always maintain healthy habits.

If you’re still having problems with your blood sugar levels, talk to your doctor who may recommend a change in medication or even add another one to help you control your problems.

Gluten is found in many different foods and is especially bad for people with diabetes. It can cause issues with your blood sugar because it slows down the speed at which your body can process sugar. You may be able to tell if you are sensitive to gluten because you experience gas, cramping, bloating or even diarrhea shortly after eating food with gluten in it.

In addition to reading food labels for gluten, make sure you’re eating a healthy diet in general and getting the right amount of exercise to keep your weight under control.

It’s also important to get rid of any food that might cause you to overeat. Stock your kitchen with healthy foods and only keep healthy snacks in easy-to-reach places. Get rid of the candy jar you keep on your desk. If it’s not there you won’t be able to eat it.

Finally, if none of these things work for you, talk to your doctor about getting on medication such as Metformin, Byetta or Symlin that can help you better manage your blood sugar levels.

If you’re a type 1 diabetic, you will need to take insulin injections. If you’re a type 2 diabetic taking medication, talk to your doctor about possibly combining it with an insulin regimen.

Foods That Can Help Control Your Blood Sugar

You’ve already seen a list of foods that are bad for you, but here’s a list of foods that are better for you. Remember to watch your portions though because eating too much of even these foods can affect your blood sugar.

1. Almonds

2. Black Beans

3. Broccoli

4. Buckwheat Groats

5. Cashews

6. Coconut Oil

7. Edamame

8. Green Peas

9. Hemp Seeds

10. Kidney Beans

11. Lima Beans

12. Macadamia Nuts

13. Oatmeal

14. Orange Juice (no sugar added)

15. Pinto Beans

16. Pistachios

17. Quinoa

18. Salmon (especially Wild)

19. Sardines (in Water)

20. Turkey (especially Dark Meat)

21. Tuna (in Water)

22. Organic, Low Sodium Broth (add Garlic for more flavor)

23. Organic Non-Fat, Unsweetened Yogurt

24. Almond Butter

25. Olive Oil or Coconut Oil for Cooking

26. Vinegar (Apple Cider, Balsamic or White Wine)

Another important thing to remember is that the timing between carbohydrate consumption and insulin treatments is very important. Your blood sugar levels rise quickly so you need to be prepared with medication or food if your blood sugar drops suddenly.

It’s also a good idea to keep these foods around so you can better control your blood sugar.

The Glycemic Index

You may have heard of the term “glycemic index” when it comes to diabetes.

The glycemic index is a ranking system that tells you how fast a particular food is converted to sugar in your blood stream. The higher the ranking, the faster the absorption rate. The lower the ranking, the slower the absorption rate.

Foods that rank high on the glycemic index should be limited in people with diabetes because of their effect on blood sugar. Foods that rank low on the glycemic index have a lesser effect on blood sugar levels.

The glycemic index has been helpful to people with diabetes because it gives them an idea of how different foods affect their blood sugar. The thing is, the glycemic index isn’t always accurate for everyone.

For example, pasta has a high ranking on the glycemic index. But for someone like me who no longer produces any insulin, pasta no longer affects my blood sugar at all.

Why?

Because I no longer have insulin in my body to convert the pasta into sugar. It just passes through my system without being absorbed.

So while the glycemic index is helpful in general, you still have to find out how different foods affect YOU personally.

Another thing to keep in mind is that your portion sizes also play a part in how your food is digested. The amount of carbohydrates you consume at one time also can effect your blood sugar levels. This is something you have to play around with and figure out what works for you and what doesn’t.

One thing that has helped me is I now carry a little measuring cup with me at all times so that I can measure out the carbohydrates I’m eating. One of the problems I have is portion sizes, so this has helped. I just make sure that the total amount of carbohydrates I consume at one time doesn’t go over what my insulin dose allows.

My only regret is that I didn’t start using the measuring cup method until after I had been diagnosed for a few years. I really wish that I had done that right away, it would have saved me a lot of grief.

The other thing to keep in mind is that you can combine foods in a way that will reduce the impact the glycemic index has on your blood sugar levels.

For example, if I eat a food that has a high ranking on the glycemic index, I can reduce its affect by eating a lot of low glycemic foods like vegetables at the same time. This is something you will have to experiment with.

Just remember that your body is unique and what works for someone else might not work for you. It just takes a little experimentation and research on your part to find out what works best for YOU.

You should also keep in mind that these methods should only be used for carbs you ingest and not the carbs you inject with your insulin. It doesn’t work that way. The insulin you take enters your blood stream and travels throughout your body lowering the amount of glucose found in your blood no matter where that glucose comes from: meal or injected insulin.

Please keep in mind that the information above is what has worked for me. I am not a medical professional and nothing I say should be considered medical advice. What works for me might not work for you, so you should always talk to your physician or endocrinologist about how different foods will affect your treatment plan.

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