Gout sufferers ask “is sugar bad for gout?” every day. There are definitely bad effects of excess sugar, but there are also bad effects of the wrong approach to gout diet.
Before I summarize the right approach to gout foods, I will explain some relevant facts about gout and sugar.
First of all, I should explain that sugar is a general term for several sweet-flavored carbohydrates. Food labels often refer to total sugars. These are commonly sucrose, glucose, and fructose. However, when we refer to sugar, it is usually sucrose, and that is what I am referring to here. It is the white crystalline sweetener that we commonly use in baking, sprinkling, and sweetening drinks.
Gout and Sugar Studies
The bad news is, I cannot find any specific gout and sugar studies. There are some relevant studies, but they all relate to sugar and uric acid. This means that healthy volunteers have been investigated rather than gout patients. The results are relevant to all gout sufferers, but it is always best to use at least some gout patients to compare different reactions between gout and non-gout groups. My reviews of the three relevant studies are based on the published abstracts.
The first study about the effects of sugar on uric acid goes back to 1980. In Effect of dietary sucrose in humans on blood uric acid, phosphorus, fructose, and lactic acid responses to a sucrose load, two groups had either starch or sucrose as 30% of their calorie intake for 6 weeks. Towards the end of the trial, a sucrose load was administered. The investigation reveals:
Serum uric acid was significantly higher […] before and at all times after the sucrose load when subjects consumed the sucrose versus the starch diet.
In 1983, an investigation into carbohydrate-sensitive people also looked at the effects of sugar on uric acid. Serum uric acid, inorganic phosphorus, and glutamic-oxalacetic transaminase and blood pressure in carbohydrate-sensitive adults consuming three different levels of sucrose compares diets of 5, 18, or 33% sucrose. They note that uric acid levels increase with increasing sugar consumption.
Finally, in 2008, Acarbose alleviates rise in plasma uric acid concentration induced by sucrose ingestion. looks at sugar and uric acid, along with the effects of acarbose, which is a common antidiabetic drug. They report that sucrose at 1.5g/kg (about 1 quarter ounce per 10 pounds weight) increased uric acid by 10%.
Is Sugar Bad for Gout?
The sugar and gout studies show that it is more than likely that sugar raises uric acid and is therefore best limited. However, that does not mean that you need to avoid sugar completely. The sensible approach to gout diet is first to look at what you eat in total. You can then analyze your total daily intake to see if you are eating too much sugar. Unless you have other medical reasons besides gout, you should be able to enjoy some sugar in your diet. Always be careful when adding sugar to other foods. Many processed and prepared foods contain more than enough sugar, without adding more. Also remember that excess calories will make gout worse. If your calorie intake is too high, the best way to lower it is to avoid unnecessary sugar.