- Excess uric acid in the body can lead to many health problems including type 2 diabetes, gout, and erectile dysfunction. Learn uric acid causes and symptoms so that you can do something about it.
- Gout is one of the most common health problems caused by high uric acid levels. Learn the natural treatment of gout through diet.
If you have some joint pain or any other troubles you may be wondering, can uric acid cause it? It is possible. Excess uric acid can cause many problems in the body. In this article, you will learn about what causes high uric acid and uric acid treatment.
What is Uric Acid
Uric acid is produced as a result of the break down of purines. As our body digests protein and DNA in various foods and the daily processes of our bodies go on, purine, a chemical compound is produced. Our bodies bbreak downthese purines and the end product is uric acid. It is normal to have uric acid in our bodies, but a balance must be maintained.
What Causes High Uric Acid Levels
A high level of uric acid is called hyperuricemia and can be caused by many different things. Not everything on this list is always a direct cause of hyperuricemia but these factors do increase the risk of developing hyperuricemia:
- Kidney not functioning properly
- Poor functioning liver
- Gene defect which hampers the digestion of purines
- A diet high in fructose
- A diet high in meat, seafood, and alcohol.
- A diet high in sodium.
- A low carb diet poses a higher risk
- Nutritional deficiencies, particularly vitamin D
- Hormonal imbalances and menopause
- Medications like diuretics, cancer treatment, and immune suppressants.
Signs of High Uric Acid Levels
- Gout pain (severely painful and swollen joints, impaired movement, redness) due to uric acid crystallizing in the joints.
- Pain and inflammation in the feet, ankles, knees, hands, or other joints
- Pain while urinating
The Dangers of High Uric Acid Levels
When uric acid is at the right levels in the body, under certain conditions it actually has an antioxidant effect. But if you have high uric acid levels, over time it has a negative impact that goes beyond gout and sore joints.
High uric acid levels increase the risk for:
- Heart disease and high blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Metabolic syndrome. High levels of uric acid cause an increase in visceral fat, triglycerides (fat in your blood), blood pressure, cholesterol levels, the risk of diabetes, and heart disease.
- Bone fractures due to uric acid keeping vitamin D from being used effectively in the body and an increase of inflammation in the bones.
- Kidney stones and kidney disease due to a build-up of uric acid in the kidney tissue which can form stones and can damage the kidneys.
- Erectile dysfunction due to poor blood vessel function.
- Skin problems like psoriasis.
Uric Acid Treatment and Gout Diet
Treatment of gout through diet will prevent painful gout attacks and lower your overall uric acid levels to a more acceptable range and lower the risk of a range of major diseases.
1. Keep Your Fructose Intake to a Minimum
Fructose is a common sugar found in many products. Limit or avoid the following types of food:
- Fruit: You should only be consuming one serving of fruit at most per day. Never eat fruit as a meal, it should be a snack or the occasional only. Some fruits are better than others. Choose low sugar fruits such as berries, lemon, and lime. Stay away from dried fruit and fruit juices.
- Junk food: Many sweets use fructose or high fructose corn syrup. Be sure to read the labels looking out for all forms of sugar since a high intake of sugar increases your risk for a range of health concerns like non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes. Can’t do without something sweet? Check out these healthy sugar alternatives.
- Processed foods: Even foods you may think are healthy like those breakfast cereals or breakfast bars that always advertise how many vitamins and minerals they are fortified with are full of sugar. Low-fat and non-fat options are almost always packed full of sugar and excess sodium to make them taste better once that fat has been removed.
- Honey: Although far healthier than sugar, honey contains some fructose, and processed versions of honey are often more high fructose corn syrup than actual honey. If you do eat honey, only eat raw or manuka honey, but keep it to a minimum if you have gout or are prone to gout.
2. Consume More Potassium-Rich Foods
Potassium has an alkalizing effect on the body. A sufficient potassium intake is even more important for your cardiac health than lowering your salt intake. That is how powerful it is, and yet many are deficient in potassium. With your body more alkaline and your sodium levels taken care of, you will experience fewer gout attacks.
We need 4700 mg of potassium per day. Here are the five most potassium-rich foods:
- Swiss Chard (960 mg per cup)
- Baked potato with skin (919 mg per medium potato)
- Baked acorn squash (896 mg per cup)
- Avocado (975 mg per avocado)
- Sweet potato (855 mg per large sweet potato)
3. Eat a Mostly Alkaline Diet
To keep acidity to a minimum in your body, a mostly alkaline diet is best. It is important to note, however, that despite some foods causing acidity in the body, such as dairy and even coffee, they actually have a uric acid lowering effect.
The easiest way to make sure your diet is more alkaline is to eat mostly vegetables. A cup a day each of leafy greens (spinach, kale, collard greens, bok choy), colorful vegetables (squash, red bell peppers, patty pans, carrots), and sulfuric vegetables (garlic, onions, kale, cabbage, broccoli).
Extra veggies can also be beneficial. If you eat 3-4 bowls of veggies every day and after 30 days compare your uric acid levels, you will be surprised.
Including foods rich in omega 3 is very helpful too as omega 3 lowers inflammation in the body. You may struggle to eat fish if you are prone to gout, but eating a serving of fish like wild sockeye salmon once a week can help. You can also include foods like walnuts, flax seeds (ground is better), hemp seeds, and chia seeds in your diet.
4. Lower Your Intake of Purine-Rich Foods
As you now know, uric acid is created when the body metabolizes purines. Lowering your intake or cutting out foods that contain purines will help to prevent gout attacks.
- Red meat
- Organ meat
5. Foods Good for Uric Acid
When Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” he already had the answer all those centuries before. These foods lower inflammation which is important for joint pain, and/or lower uric acid levels in the body.
- Pineapple: Pineapples contain bromelain which is very effective for lowering inflammation in the body and helps for a range of conditions including gout. Pineapples are high in fructose, so eat them in moderation. Fresh or frozen pineapple is preferable to juice or jams.
- Cherries: Cherries were found to decrease gout attacks by 35% in this study. Just be sure to consume them in moderation because they are also high in fructose. Buy the fresh or frozen cherries as opposed to dried or candied cherries or cherry juice.
- Raw dairy: Dairy, as we saw help to prevent gout and it lowers inflammation which accompanies gout. Be sure to include some in your diet. Raw dairy is better as it hasn’t been pasteurized which involves heating the milk to a very high temperature which kills some of the benefits of the milk. Always get your raw dairy from a reputable farm.
- Quercetin containing foods: Quercetin has been shown to lower uric acid in the body. Foods that contain quercetin include tea, apples, onions, berries, chili, and kale. Do not eat kale raw as it will then contain more anti-nutrients which cooking helps to destroy.
- Turmeric: Turmeric is one of the best spices to make sure you always have in your kitchen. The health benefits of this spice are numerous and due to curcumin which is responsible for turmeric’s yellow color. This study found that turmeric lowered the swelling and pain in joints and greatly increased mobility.
- Dandelion root: Dandelion root also contains quercetin and is a great herb to keep your liver and kidneys healthy, both of which are necessary to keep your uric acid levels under control.
For any digestion, you need enzymes. Enzymes are the proteins responsible for digestion. I know I have said it so many times but when you smell or chew your food, your brain sends a signal to your stomach. Enzymes start releasing and are ready to digest the food. Proper digestion is essential for gut health and keeping inflammation down.
Now there are external and internal enzymes. Foods also have enzymes but only when they are raw. Cooking foods kill the enzymes. So one of the great strategies to fight gout pain is adding raw food to your diet. Salads are a great way to eat raw vegetables like cucumber, leafy greens, radishes, carrots, onions, jalapenos, tomatoes, carrots, and turnips. You can also make delicious juices.
7. Stay Well Hydrated
Many people are dehydrated without realizing it. Fatigue and joint pain are signs that you may be dehydrated. In order for the kidneys to clear excess uric acid and other toxins from your body, you need to drink water. 6-8 glasses of water a day is very beneficial though you will need more if you are exercising or it’s a hot day.
If you don’t like plain water, try flavoring it with some lemon (which also has an alkalizing effect on the body despite it being acidic) or cucumber. Herbal teas will also count towards your water intake. Green tea, dandelion root tea, ginger tea, and milk thistle tea are great options. They lower inflammation and help the body to detox which improves the health of your liver and kidneys.
This will help to prevent kidney stones and gout caused by high uric acid levels.
8. Probiotics for Gout
Probiotic foods, as well as prebiotic foods, ensure better digestion and gut health which can benefit those who struggle with gout. Though this study showed that though more research is needed it looks very promising. Eat more of these foods:
Raw apple cider vinegar is also a great prebiotic and also helps to improve digestion.
Supplements for High Uric Acid and Gout
- Quercetin: As well as being present in foods, you can also find quercetin in supplement form.
- Bromelain: Bromelain, like quercetin, has also been extracted from foods and is even present in some enzyme supplements.
- Digestive enzymes: For those who struggle with digestion, enzymes can be really helpful. If you buy an enzyme supplement to take before meals, one that contains bromelain is twice as beneficial for gout and high uric acid levels.
- Rutin: Rutin is an antioxidant found in foods like green tea, Ceylon tea, and figs. You can also buy it as a supplement. Rutin lowers uric acid levels and reduces inflammation. There are some known side effects that may come with supplementing rutin such as blurred vision, rashes, muscle stiffness, and nervousness.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C lowers the risk of gout attacks and helps to prevent gout by lowering uric acid levels. This study shows that 500 mg per day or more of vitamin C is responsible for these results. Vitamin C is also needed for collagen production which is very important to keep the cartilage in your joints healthy.
- Omega 3: If you don’t eat many foods containing omega 3, or can’t due to issues with digestion or the purine content, consider a krill oil supplement. Omega 3, specifically, DHA and EPA, as well as ALA, help to decrease the number of gout attacks that you may have. Make sure that the combined DHA and EPA content per capsule is at least 500 mg.
- Uric acid is necessary. It acts as an antioxidant, but too much uric acid has the opposite effect and can cause gout, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, erectile dysfunction, metabolic syndrome, and kidney stones.
- Symptoms of high uric acid levels include swollen and/or painful joints, and pain while urinating.
- Many things cause excess uric acid in the body including kidney problems, liver problems, obesity, thyroid problems, an unhealthy diet, or a diet high in purine-containing foods such as fructose, meat, and alcohol.
- Treatment of gout and uric acid include avoiding or limiting purine-containing foods such as sugary foods, fruit, processed foods, meat including organ meat, poultry, pork, seafood, and alcohol.
- Eat at least 3 cups of vegetables a day and include foods high in potassium like chard, sweet potato, and avocado. Stay well hydrated.
- Other beneficial foods and supplements include raw vegetables, an enzyme supplement, a bromelain supplement, probiotic foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut, pineapple, cherries, a vitamin C supplement, a rutin supplement, and foods that contain quercetin like onions, tea, apples, and berries.
If you’ve struggled with gout, please let us know which foods helped you and which you found caused your gout to flare up.