High levels of uric acid (UA) in the body can lead to gout which is a particularly painful type of arthritis. So people who suffer from gout generally need to lower their uric acid and maintain it at healthier levels. One of the most common ways to do this is through a uric acid diet.
To better understand why people with gout may benefit from a uric acid diet it is worthwhile first getting to know what UA is, where it derives from, and why it can cause gout…
What Is Uric Acid?
UA is a compound of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen, and is created when the body breaks down purine nucleotide molecules during its metabolism process. It is then excreted out of the body in urine as a waste product.
Uric acid is beneficial to us because it is a powerful antioxidant, accounting for around 50% of the total antioxidant capacity of blood serum. It is able to fight oxygen radicals that cause things such as cancer, heart disease, and aging, etc. For example, it is important in helping to prevent damage to your blood vessel linings.
So when UA is between the generally recognized normal levels (referred to as ‘the reference range’) of 3.6 mg/dL to 8.3 mg/dL, then this is a healthy thing. However, levels above this — a state called ‘hyperuricemia’ — and below this range — ‘ hypouricemia ‘– are not so good. Here we are concentrating on the former, hyperuricemia.
What Causes High Uric Acid in the Blood Leading to Gout?
There are several possible reasons for hyperuricimea; hereditary reasons, diet, kidney problems that prevent them processing UA effectively, too much UA production for the kidneys to handle, some medical conditions and medications, excessive alcohol consumption.
When we have the situation where someone has hyperuricemia, the excess acid in the blood can cause microscopic needle-like crystals of urate to accumulate in the joints and connective tissue over time.
The body’s natural inflammatory reaction — which seeks to expel the ‘intruder’ and start the healing process — is to increase blood flow around the area by dilating the blood vessels. This healing process gives rise to the symptoms of gout; redness, swelling, inflammation, heat and great pain.
Why a Uric Acid Diet?
Where does a uric acid diet fit into all of this? As well as existing in the human body, purines also exist in the foods we eat. Some foods have relatively high concentrations, some moderate, and some have relatively low concentrations of purines. This means that someone who eats a diet high in purines has a higher risk of hyperuricea and thus gout. The average person in the U.S. consumes between 600 and 1,000 milligrams of purines in their daily diet.
So a uric acid diet is a diet that has a better balance of foods such that the amount of UA produced during the metabolism process can be effectively processed by the kidneys so that the acid levels are maintained within the reference range outlined above.
Typical high-purine foods are fatty red meat, game, organ meat, fish and shellfish, poultry, dried legumes, yeast, yeast extracts. And some vegetables such as asparagus, cauliflower, mushrooms, and spinach are moderately high in purines.
Foods that are relatively low in purines are essential fatty acids, complex carbohydrates, low-fat dairy products, high vitamin C foods, green leafy vegetables, and fruit.
Uric Acid Diet List
A uric acid diet is a special diet that avoids or reduces medium to high purine foods and injects foods that are low in purines in a healthy, balanced way. Here is an example list of foods to consider in your UA diet…
fresh fruit salad
muesli with low-fat milk
soft boiled egg
stew with small amount of lean beef
baked / grilled wild salmon
grilled chicken breast
oven baked french fries
Try to keep your total consumption of meat, poultry and fish down to 6 ounces per day. And limit yourself to 1 or 2 alcoholic drinks per day, as alcohol can inhibit UA excretion. Eat plenty of fruit such as cherries, strawberries, grapes, blueberries, etc., and drink plenty of water (2 to 3 litres per day) to help your kidneys flush uric acid out of your body.