Do tomatoes make gout worse? Research and more

Tomatoes may contain compounds that trigger gout, but further research into the topic is necessary. A person may help prevent symptoms of gout by limiting purine-rich foods, exercising, and maintaining a moderate weight.

Gout affects around 9.2 million adults in the United States, making it the most common form of inflammatory arthritis.

The Arthritis Foundation explains that gout develops when high levels of uric acid, also known as hyperuricemia, lead to needle-like crystals that lodge in joints. This causes pain and inflammation. Uric acid can come from the breakdown of compounds called purines, which are naturally present in some foods.

This article explores the relationship between tomatoes and gout. It also discusses other potential foods to limit in the diet, how healthcare professionals treat gout, and when to speak with a doctor.

There is limited research about tomatoes and gout. Additionally, health organizations, such as the Arthritis Foundation and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, do not list tomatoes as a food that may trigger gout symptoms.

However, a study from 2015 found that tomatoes were the fourth most commonly reported trigger food for gout in a sample of 2,051 people from New Zealand. While the study authors stated that there needs to be more research into the topic, they suggested that the glutamate in tomatoes may raise uric acid levels to trigger gout.

Glutamate is a type of amino acid that also acts as a neurotransmitter, or chemical messenger, in the brain. It is often present in foods with a high purine content, which may cause or worsen gout when the body breaks purine down into uric acid. However, tomatoes are low in purine.

Learn more about foods to eat and avoid on a low purine diet.

Nightshade vegetables

People may associate tomatoes with gout because they are a vegetable in the nightshade family. Other nightshade foods include:

According to a 2015 study, vegetables in this family contain solanine, which may trigger symptoms of some forms of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis. However, nightshade foods also contain beneficial nutrients.

Additionally, the Arthritis Foundation advises that the claims suggesting solanine from nightshade vegetables worsen arthritis pain and inflammation are primarily from anecdotal reports rather than scientific studies.

However, it suggests that if someone suspects that tomatoes or other nightshades trigger symptoms, they could try avoiding these foods for 2 weeks to see if the symptoms subside, before gradually introducing them back into the diet to see if the symptoms return.

It is best for people to speak with a healthcare professional before making any significant changes to their diet.

Read more about whether nightshade vegetables make arthritis worse.

The Arthritis Foundation suggests that purine-rich foods may cause or worsen gout. Therefore, people with gout may wish to avoid or limit the following foods with a high purine content:

A person with gout may also decide to limit the following foods with a moderate purine content:

  • other meats, such as:
  • other shellfish, including:

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that eating foods that are high in a type of sugar called fructose may cause gout.

The CDC note that the signs and symptoms of gout can look like other inflammatory diseases. For this reason, it is essential that people visit a doctor who can accurately diagnose and treat the condition.

Doctors may treat gout in the following ways:

  • managing the pain of a gout flare using anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen, steroids, or colchicine
  • preventing future gout flares by recommending changes to diet and lifestyle or changing medications such as diuretics that may cause hyperuricemia
  • preventing kidney stones and tophi, which are hard uric acid deposits under the skin, using medications that lower uric acid in the blood, such as allopurinol, febuxostat, and pegloticase

In addition, people with gout can help manage the condition by exercising, maintaining a moderate weight, and eating a healthy diet.

If someone has gout symptoms, such as pain and swelling in the joints, it is best they see a doctor for a diagnosis. Because the signs and symptoms of gout can be similar to other conditions, experts recommend a specialist team of rheumatologists diagnose and treat gout.

Additionally, if an individual with gout is unsure about what to eat or how to manage their symptoms, they can consult a healthcare professional.

Experts do not currently advise people with gout to avoid tomatoes. However, some research indicates that tomatoes may contain compounds that can trigger gout in some people. Further research is necessary to confirm this.

People with gout may help alleviate their symptoms by avoiding foods high in purines, such as alcohol, some meats, and some seafood. In addition, they may limit foods that contain fructose.

If a person suspects that tomatoes may trigger their gout, they may wish to try eliminating them from their diet with a doctor’s guidance. It is best to speak with a healthcare professional for advice about managing gout and maintaining a healthy diet.

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