Can Bacon Cause Gout Flare-Ups?

About 3% of Americans have gout, an inflammatory form of arthritis that makes one or more joints hurt, stiff, and swell. Gout is different from osteoarthritis because it is caused by uric acid crystals building up inside your joint and stopping it from working normally.

Uric acid is a natural acid that forms when common chemical compounds called purines break down. Purines are found in lots of foods in varying amounts. Usually, excess uric acid is eliminated in your urine and feces. But sometimes, it builds up — and that’s when gout happens.

At his practice in Houston, Texas, Joshua D. Harris, MD, helps people with painful gout get rid of their symptoms by combining medical treatments with changes to their lifestyle, such as making big changes to their diet. He talks about some common foods that people with gout or who are at risk of getting it should stay away from in this post.

Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis characterized by sudden and severe attacks of pain, swelling, redness, and tenderness in the joints. It’s caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood. This acid crystallizes and deposits in the joints. Diet plays a major role in gout flares – certain foods raise uric acid levels more than others. Bacon is one food often cited as a potential gout trigger. But is this true? Let’s take a closer look at the science.

What is Gout?

Gout occurs when excess uric acid builds up in the body Uric acid comes from the breakdown of purines Purines are natural substances found in some foods,

Normally, uric acid dissolves in the blood. It passes through the kidneys and out of the body in urine. But in some cases, uric acid levels become too high. This allows uric acid crystals to form in the joints and soft tissues.

The immune system attacks these crystals, causing inflammation and intense pain. Gout most often affects the big toe, but any joint can be impacted

Obesity, genetics, diet, alcohol intake, and certain medications can all increase gout risk. Men develop gout more often than women.

What Are Common Gout Attack Triggers?

Gout flare-ups are often triggered by factors that raise uric acid levels. Avoiding personal gout triggers is key to preventing painful gout attacks. Some of the most common triggers include:

  • Purine-rich foods like meat, seafood, and alcohol
  • Dehydration
  • Injury to a joint
  • Recent surgery
  • High blood pressure
  • Weight gain
  • Medications like diuretics and low-dose aspirin

Diet plays a major role. Foods naturally high in purines and alcohol are frequent gout triggers for many people. But responses vary – what foods set off gout for you might be different than someone else.

Can Bacon Cause Gout?

Bacon contains moderate purine levels. A 3-ounce serving of pork bacon contains around 62 mg of purines.

Other pork products also contain purines:

  • Ham: 91 mg per 3 ounces
  • Pork tenderloin: 120 mg per 3 ounces
  • Pork chops: 76 mg per 3 ounces

In comparison, organ meats like liver have very high purine levels exceeding 300 mg per serving.

For some gout sufferers, just a few slices of bacon can prompt a painful flare-up. The higher your sensitivity, the more even moderate purine foods will be a problem. Others may be able to handle small amounts with no issue.

Bacon may also raise uric acid by:

  • Containing sodium and preservatives that make it harder for kidneys to excrete uric acid
  • Increasing blood levels of lactate and ketones, which impairs uric acid excretion
  • Containing saturated fats that may increase inflammation

Additionally, being overweight raises gout risk. The high calorie and fat content of bacon can contribute to weight gain.

Tips To Reduce Gout Flare-Ups From Bacon

If you experience gout flares when you eat bacon, try these tips:

  • Limit bacon intake to no more than 1-2 servings weekly.
  • Opt for lower-purine turkey bacon over regular pork bacon.
  • Eat bacon as part of a low-purine diet, avoiding other high triggers.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to help flush uric acid from your system.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight through diet and exercise.
  • Take any prescribed uric acid-lowering medications regularly.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol intake, especially beer, which is very high in purines.

It also helps to balance bacon with gout-safe foods:

  • High-fiber whole grains like oatmeal and brown rice
  • Non-citrus fruits like bananas, cherries, and grapes
  • Vegetables like spinach, carrots, and celery
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Unsweetened coffee and tea

Other Dietary Gout Triggers To Limit

Along with bacon and other meats, here are some other foods those prone to gout may wish to moderate:

  • Organ meats like liver and kidneys
  • Oily fish and shellfish
  • Fatty foods like prime rib andpizza
  • Sugary foods including sodas and desserts
  • Alcoholic beverages, especially beer and cocktails
  • Sugary juices, energy drinks, and sweetened coffees
  • Refined carbs like white bread, pasta, and rice
  • Asparagus, mushrooms, cauliflower and spinach

Remember, responses vary person to person. Keeping a food and symptom diary can help you identify your unique triggers.

When To See A Doctor About Gout

Consult a doctor if you experience frequent gout attacks. There are effective medications that can help lower uric acid levels long-term and prevent recurrent gout flares. Untreated gout can permanently damage joints and cause mobility problems.

A doctor can also rule out other conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or pseudogout, which resemble gout. Proper diagnosis is key, as the treatment approach differs.

Making dietary changes is important, but rarely sufficient on its own. Medications usually provide the best gout management, especially for those with frequent, severe attacks.

The Bottom Line

For some gout sufferers, bacon and other moderate-purine meats can prompt painful flares. The higher your sensitivity, the more problematic even small purine amounts may be. However, with care to limit intake and follow a gout diet, most people can still enjoy the occasional serving of bacon without issue. Pay attention to your personal triggers and adjust your diet accordingly to keep gout flares at bay.

does bacon cause gout

Don’t ignore gout symptoms

Gout often accompanies other medical problems, like obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and kidney disease. These associations are so common, gout is often viewed as a “sentinel” disease, a medical condition that serves as a sort of early-warning system for other medical problems. Having joint pain or swelling evaluated early is critical for determining if you have gout and if you might be at risk for one of these other medical problems.

If you have gout symptoms, don’t ignore them. Instead, call 713-441-8393 or book an appointment online with Dr. Joshua Harris today and learn how he can help.

Red meats and organ meats

Beef and lamb both contain high levels of purine, so it’s crucial to avoid or limit these foods. Although not strictly “red” meat, you should also lower your consumption of pork and pork products.

Liver, kidneys, and other organ meats tend to have higher concentrations of purines. That also includes foods made from these organs, like liverwurst or kidney pie. You should also avoid glandular meats, like sweetbreads (pancreas) and game meats.

Some people say that seafood like lobster, sardines, shrimp, anchovies, scallops, and herring is better for you than other types of protein. Seafood can be good for you, but it’s also full of purines. Limiting these foods or eliminating them from your diet entirely can help reduce your symptoms.

Until recently, doctors recommended avoiding grain-based liquors, like beer and whiskeys. But more recently, research suggests that if you have gout, you’re better off avoiding alcohol — even wine. That’s because symptoms tend to be triggered by the ethanol in alcohol, not by the products used in fermentation.

Many sugary foods, especially those with corn syrup or other types of fructose (a sugar found in plants), raise uric acid levels. That includes beverages like sodas, energy drinks, and plenty of fruit juices. Many foods, even bread and ketchup, have a lot of fructose and other sugars, so read the labels carefully when you go grocery shopping.

Brewer’s yeast, nutritional yeast, and premade yeast supplements can increase uric acid levels and trigger gout symptoms. Avoid these products to help prevent flare-ups.

Processed foods are rampant in American diets and Western diets in general. Cookies, crackers, packaged baked goods, and processed foods like bacon and sausage increase the risks of lots of health problems, including gout. Avoiding these foods is a good idea whether you have gout or not.

Any list of “forbidden” foods can leave you feeling like there’s nothing “good” left to eat. Of course, that’s not true. There are plenty of delicious foods that are perfectly fine for people with gout, including:

  • Low-fat dairy
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Breads
  • Pasta
  • Peanut butter and other nuts

The internet is an excellent resource for shopping lists and recipes that rely on low-purine foods. Just be sure any recipes or lists you use come from reputable sources.

What Causes GOUT? (Meat Doesn’t Cause Gout) 2024

Leave a Comment