Did you know that gout affects up to 500,000 Canadians? That is 1 in 30. Men over 40 are at least four times more likely to develop gout than women. Gout is a type of arthritis that is caused by too much uric acid. Uric acid is a waste product found naturally in the body and normally flushed away by the kidneys. With gout, the body either makes too much uric acid or doesn’t get rid of enough of it. Extra uric acid turns into crystals that can build up in the joints. Most often it affects the joint at the base of the big toe but can also affect the ankle, knee, foot, hand, wrist, and elbow.1
Joints affected by gout can have hot, red swollen skin and a feeling of pressure around the area caused by inflammation. Unfortunately, gout can be quite painful. So what can be done to help manage gout? Your doctor may prescribe a painkiller or other medication. Applying heat or cold can help ease the pain and swelling and once the gout is under control, exercise can help strengthen the affected joint.2
So what about diet and gout? Foods that contain high levels of purine, a substance that when broken down in the body produces uric acid, should be avoided. High levels of purine are found mostly in organ meats, some fish and shellfish, gravies, and broths. Traditionally, a low-purine diet was prescribed, but today effective medications make rigid restrictions unnecessary.3 Mushrooms do contain a moderate amount of purine but should still be included as part of a healthy diet. Enjoyed in moderation, fresh mushrooms may provide some additional benefits as well.
Fresh Mushrooms Can Help!
Put a Dent in Disease
- Beta-glucans, a type of carbohydrate found in mushrooms, has potential anti-inflammatory activity, which may help protect the body against disease.4
- Controlling other conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, can in turn help lower the risk of gout.5
- Being at a healthy weight is a smart overall strategy for disease prevention and well-being.
- Fresh mushrooms are a perfect choice for weight management, since they have high water content, are low in fat, and contain some fibre: three factors that will help you feel full with fewer calories. That means less room for calorie-laden foods.
Fill Up on Fluids
- Nutrition experts advise drinking 8 to 12 cups of fluid daily to help dilute and flush uric acid out of the body.6 Alcohol, especially beer, should be avoided as it stops uric acid from leaving the body and can trigger gout.7
- Fresh mushrooms have a high water content which may contribute to daily fluid intake.
Mushrooms for Meat
- Eating moderate amounts of mushrooms in place of large servings of meat means less purine in the diet. It also means fewer calories and less fat, saturated fat and cholesterol: important strategies for weight maintenance and heart health.
- In fact, a healthy body weight, or gradual weight loss to achieve a healthy body weight, may help prevent gout attacks.8
Mushrooms Make a Difference
In addition to fewer calories and fat, these substitutions will also lower the purine level.
- Have a 3 oz. juicy portabella mushroom between buns instead of a 6 oz. lean hamburger.Benefit: save 431 calories, 30 g fat, 11 g saturated fat, 155 mg cholesterol and get an extra 2 g fibre.9
- Make soup with vegetable stock instead of beef broth and add ½ cup sliced shiitake mushrooms instead of 3 oz. of chicken. Benefit: save 163 calories, 4g fat, 1g saturated fat, 108 mg cholesterol and get an extra 2 g fibre.9
- Choose a mushroom pâté (1 cup sliced button mushrooms) instead of one made with chicken liver (3 oz. chicken liver).Benefit: save 118 calories, 5 g fat, 1.7 g saturated fat, 479 mg cholesterol and get an extra 2 g fibre.9