Is There a Pseudogout Diet?

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Calcium pyrophosphate deposition disease has commonly been called pseudogout. With a name so similar to gout, it's not uncommon for people to think that the two conditions are very much alike. It's fairly well known that people with gout are advised against eating foods that are high in purines. But, what about pseudogout? Do dietary changes help to manage pseudogout?

Diet Is Not Really Helpful for Pseudogout

We turned the question over to rheumatologist Scott J. Zashin, MD, who replied, "Pseudogout is a type of arthritis caused by the accumulation of a crystal, calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate (CPPD). Why some people develop pseudogout is unknown, but there may be a genetic predisposition in some families. It may also occur secondary to osteoarthritis and it is more common in older patients."

Zashin continued, "Interestingly, pseudogout can be associated with other conditions as well, such as an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), overproduction of iron (hemochromatosis), and calcium disorders (hyperparathyroidism). Unfortunately, unlike a more common type of crystal disease, gout, which is caused by uric acid overproduction or decreased excretion, there is no diet that is helpful in controlling pseudogout."

"Patients with pseudogout may develop intermittent flare-ups or be bothered by persistent discomfort that mimics rheumatoid arthritis. Over time, accumulation of the crystals may predispose patients to osteoarthritis. Treatment is based on treating the flares with NSAIDs, corticosteroids, and colchicine. If an infection is not suspected in an affected joint, a steroid injection may be given. If attacks occur often, NSAIDs or colchicine may be given on a routine basis. In those patients with persistent pseudogout that resembles rheumatoid arthritis, methotrexate has shown benefit," according to Dr. Zashin.

Anti-Inflammatory Diet Seems Reasonable

According to Andrew Weil, MD, the calcium crystal deposits associated with pseudogout cause inflammation. In that regard, diet may help control the inflammation. Dr. Weil recommends eliminating foods from your diet that are considered pro-inflammatory, such as polyunsaturated vegetable oils, and trans-fatty acid sources which include margarine and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.

You should include foods in your diet that are considered anti-inflammatory, such as omega-3 fatty acids found in sardines, wild Alaskan salmon, as well as other oily fish and flaxseeds.

Dr. Weil also recommends a plant-based diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables which are high in antioxidants. Drinking water is beneficial, but Dr. Weil does not see a need to avoid dairy products. 

A Word From Verywell

The question is quite logical. If there is a gout diet, why isn't there a pseudogout diet? The type of crystal makes all the difference. People with gout are told to avoid or lower consumption of foods that are high in purines. Reason being, foods high in purines can raise uric acid levels. Pseudogout is associated with a different crystal, calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate, and there is no dietary impact on its formation.

Because crystal deposition in the joints provokes an inflammatory response, Dr. Weil's advice for an anti-inflammatory diet seems to make sense. But, it won't affect the underlying disease which is pseudogout.

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