A chef’s guide to avoiding gout

For the waves of chefs taking culinary arts courses online to kick-start their burgeoning careers in cooking, gout might sound like a disease that only affects rotund, seasoned chefs of old. However, cases of gout are increasing, and for those spending a lot of time in the kitchen, this ailment can be a career-related risk. Gout is a complex form of arthritis characterized by severe episodes of pain in the joints, specifically in the big toe, that is more common in men than women. This condition is curable, but requires a very specific diet that doesn’t include many culinary staples. There are a number of ways culinary professionals can avoid being attacked by this disease. Here is a basic chef’s guide for avoiding gout:

Be wary of purine
Gout is caused by a build up of uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is a natural waste product of the human body that is produced from breaking down purine. Many foods are high in purine and eating them can increase the chances of getting gout. Gout can be spurred by being overweight or obese, overindulging in alcohol, having kidney disease or maintaining a diet that is high in purine. Chefs’ diets generally fall into this last category, as the culinary elite must taste their dishes often to ensure quality, taste and consistency. This doesn’t mean  chefs should panic every time they’re faced with sampling chicken or fish, but rather that they are responsible for remaining cognizant of the purine in their diets.

Foods high in purine content

  • Mussels
  • Roe
  • Sardines
  • Mincemeat
  • Herring
  • Goose
  • Gravy
  • Anchovies
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Mackerel

Drink water
For busy chefs, it’s always important to stay hydrated in a scorching hot kitchen. However, drinking water regularly throughout the day can also help chefs avoid gout. Water helps the kidneys excrete urates, encouraging the body to rid itself of uric acid. Drink at least six glasses of water throughout the day to help keep gout-free in the kitchen.

Know your family history
You’re more likely to develop gout if other people in your family have suffered from the disease. This is particularly relevant to young chefs, because if a chef at the beginning of his or her career knows this disease runs in the family, he or she can diet accordingly to reduce the risk.

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