What about meat and gout?

16 March 2021

Historically, gout has been referred to as “the rich man’s disease”, associated with expensive foods such as meat.

But! Populations eating extremely high meat, low carb diets (eg Inuit and Maasai) are not known for issues with gout!

So, what is gout?

Gout is an inflammatory disease where uric acid builds up in the blood and combines with sodium to form monosodium urate crystals, which then accumulate in the joints, resulting in redness, swelling and pain.

Uric acid is formed by purine metabolism. Purines are molecules found in all plants and animals. Meat is high in purines.

Uric acid is normally excreted via the urine. According to a study cited by Benjamin Bikman PhD, in his book Why We Get Sick, insulin resistance makes the kidneys accrue uric acid rather than excrete it, resulting in higher levels in the blood.

This does not always lead to gout.

So, what are the contributing factors?

According to Dr Shawn Baker, in his book The Carnivore Diet, gout only occurs when high uric acid levels appear alongside any of the following:

  • Underlying inflammation
  • Metabolic disease
  • Gut hyperpermeability (see my post on leaky gut)
  • Immune system disturbance

Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride, in her book Gut and Physiology Syndrome cites a study that shows a correlation between gout and particular toxin-producing microbes living in the gut of the person.


When people eat in a way that addresses these other conditions, then the gout should go away, yes? It seems so! Click this link to view gout success stories.

Now, if someone is already compromised in these other areas, going on a keto or carnivore diet can result in a gout flareup. Why?

Ketones can interfere with the kidney’s ability to excrete uric acid. According to Dr Shawn Baker, this typically resolves over a matter of weeks or months as ketone wasting becomes less.

Why would a flareup happen on carnivore? Well, if insulin resistant, meat being high in purines can cause a rise in uric acid levels. Symptoms of gout typically resolve as underlying conditions improve.

Disclaimer: This post is for information purposes only and not to be taken as medical advice.

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About Tira

About Tira

Tira Cole is a nutritionist, researcher and educator. Her passion is meat-based nutrition and support of farming.

Learn more about Tira.

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