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Fish diet for Gout patients:

Which fish, shrimp are safe to eat for gout sufferers?

Gout is caused by high uric acid levels in the body. While most of the uric acid is made by the body, some of it is also contributed by the purine rich foods which come from foods and beverages. Shrimp and other shellfish contain moderate levels of purine and can be used in moderation for patients suffering from gout. Depending on the uric acid levels 1 to 2 servings (2-3oz) of shrimp or other fish like Bombay duck can be included twice in a week. However other fish like mackerel, sardines, scallops, herring, mussels and anchovies are high in purine so should be avoided completely.

Other foods which are high in purine and must be avoided include organ meats like brain, heart, liver, kidneys, game meat, goose partridge, sweet breads containing yeast, other yeast products, meat, minced meat and gravies of the food that are high in purines. Other guidelines for healthy gout diet and to minimize the gout symptoms are listed below –

  1. During an acute gout attack drink at least 2-3 liters of fluid in a day, out of which half is water. Water will help to dilute the urine and flush the toxins from the body.
  2. Avoid alcohol and foods high in purines completely. Alcohol can cause excess uric acid buildup in the body.
  3. For proteins you can include low-fat dairy products, tofu and small amounts of eggs.
  4. Emphasize on high carbohydrate foods like whole grain cereals and its products and fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid the intake of deep fried foods, oily foods, and high fat dessert; also limit the intake of excess fats, sugar, salad dressing, butter and margarine. 
  5. If you are above your ideal body weight then it would be wise to lose weight. Weight loss however should be a gradual process. Do not go on any fad diets or high protein diets as a sudden weight loss can actually raise your uric acid levels and make gout worst. Set a target to lose not more than ½ kg per week as being overweight can cause uric acid buildup in the body. If you have a mild form of the disease then try to maintain a certain level of fitness by performing mild exercises like stretching or walking. This will help in weight loss process and also make you feel better.
  6. Besides following these guidelines you may also require medications to lower your uric acid levels, so consult a specialist for the same.

Basa Fish

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Basa fish: This is a kind of catfish that is found in the south east part of Asia, in Vietnam. This fish is considered to be a delicacy and valued as a food source. Basa fish is also popular in other countries, especially the USA. The fish can be caught from its natural habitat in the river when it is an adult, or it can be raised in fish farms, in captivity right from the time it is small. 

The local farmers in Vietnam farm Basa fish  which are brought up in pens that have a supply of fresh river water, the farmed Basa fish like strong currents, unlike other catfish. The natural flow of water in the pens is supposed to make the fish tastier and has several advantages for the fish farmer.

Basa fish is known for its nutrition as well as for its flaky meat and mild taste. In fact, this fish is gaining popularity all around the world and several people have begun preferring Basa to other catfish. Many feel that since these are farmed in the river with a natural flow of water, the taste is cleaner than fish raised in other farms. People in the US came to know about Basa fish sometime in the early 1990s’, when the trade embargo with the country of Vietnam was lifted. Though the fish took some time to be known by fish lovers, today the popularity of Basa is posing a serious threat to American catfish farmers.

The reason why Basa fish is popular is because it is cheaper than the other kinds of domestic catfish and is tasty too. Some resorts and restaurants have started serving Basa fish. However, if you want to buy Basa, do remember that not any catfish can be called this fish. There are several different types of Asian catfish and you need to know exactly which one is Basa. You may want to ask someone who buy fish a lot to gibe you a low down about the true qualities about Basa before you go into the market to buy one. Ask your fish-lover friend about price points and quality identification methods before you bring home a bag of fillets. You can also look for ways of preparing Basa fish the kosher way, about the calories in the fish, special recipes, and about basa fish tacos.

Basa fish safety concerns: Even though Basa fish is gaining popularity, there are plenty of people who are worried about the mercury content in the fish as well as about the fact if Basa fish is safe. It is believed that some cheaper varieties of the fish have been found to have some traces of carcinogen. Some people are appalled by the way the fish has conquered the market and how most fish and chips shops as well as fish hops sells Basa instead of the more expensive varieties of fish. A lot of people have questions about the quality of basa fish being imported into their countries.

There are concerns about hints of malachite green, a textile chemical, being found in Basa. This chemical is an approved dye that is used for aquarium fish but cannot be used for aqua culture fish in several countries. Also known to be used as a fungicide, the chemical can be the cause of cancer and is believed to leave behind leuchomalachite, a harmful residue.

Uric acid: One needs to be very careful while creating a uric acid diet plan. A well-thought out uric acid diet chart and plan can help a gout patient maintain his health, control the levels of uric acid in his body, and a person can also keep kidney stones at bay with a good uric acid diet.

Do remember that anchovies, mussels, herring, scallops, sardines and mackerel are high in fish purines and should be avoided if you have a uric acid problem. Other foods which you may like to avoid because of high content of purines are minced meat, meat, yeast products, sweet breads with yeast, goose partridge, game meat, kidneys, liver, heart and brain.

Other uric acid dietary guidelines:
If you’ve had a gout attack, you must drink a lot of fluids, especially water because this helps in diluting the urine and flushing out toxins.

Alcohol as well as foods with high purine content should be avoided.

Instead of having animal proteins, you can eat tofu and low-fat dairy products.

You must also include foods made with whole grains and cereals, and eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. Fried and oily foods as well as rich desserts are not recommended for people who have gout.

If a gout patient is overweight then losing weight is also a good idea. However, while trying to lose weight remember that the process should be gradual and you should eat a healthy diet and exercise instead of resorting to a high protein diet, which will do more damage.

Shrimp and gout: There is a connection between gout and shrimp. Gout causes pain and severe inflammation in the joints and body parts like the ankles and big toe. People who suffer from gout are either not able to flush out the uric acid from their body efficiently or their bodies produce too much of uric acid. Thus, this causes an excess of it in the body, which turns into crystals and gets deposited in the joints. Modification in one’s diet and certain lifestyle changes can decrease the chances of gout attacks. This also means that you must know which foods increase the level of uric acid, the foods that are high in purines, and foods and fish low in purines.

High in purines, shrimps increase uric acid levels in the body. Apart from shrimp purines, you must avoid certain other fish that can cause gout. As delicious as these little fish might be, when it comes to gout, shrimps are something that needs to be avoided. Thus, shrimps and gout do have a connection.

So if you have gout, we suggest you consult a doctor and find out about the foods that need to be avoided and food products that you can include in your meal plans.

Submitted on January 16, 2014