Uric acid is produced when the body breaks down chemicals called purines. It is meant to be a waste product by dissolving in the bloodstream, flowing through the kidneys, and leaving the body in urine.
But it can happen that the uric acid in the blood is not filtered well and reaches high levels, higher than 0.42 millimoles per liter, which is known as hyperuricemia and that can end the formation of crystals in the tissues.
If these end up in the joints (especially in the fingers and toes), it can cause a gout attack, a type of arthritis that manifests itself with sudden and unbearable joint pain and affects between 1-6.8% of the population, according to a study published in Nature. Although sometimes it is necessary to treat gout with medication, in some cases lifestyles, such as diet and physical activity, can help us a lot to reduce these levels.
What foods help break down uric acid?
Here we have researched 7 foods that will help You break down the increased uric acid.
The 7 foods that will help you keep uric acid at bay
Purines are found naturally in the body but also in certain foods. Although they are not entirely bad, it is advisable to avoid consuming them in large quantities, especially if there are problems breaking them down. Foods low in purines are:
- Fruits: In general, all fruits are low in purines and are therefore safe to eat to keep uric acid levels low, especially cherries. A study conducted with gout patients followed up for a year showed that those who had eaten cherries in the past few days were 35% less likely to have an acute gout attack than those who had not eaten them.
- Vegetables: As with fruits, most vegetables are low in purines, except for asparagus, cauliflower, spinach, mushrooms, and peas, which are slightly higher in purines.
Whole grains: Whole grain bread, rice, and pasta have been associated with a lower risk of gout.
- Legumes: Except for peas, all legumes are fine, including lentils, soybeans, and tofu.
Skimmed dairy: this food favors the excretion of uric acid.
- Eggs: they are low in purines, but they are consumed in moderation (three or four eggs a week).
- Vegetable oils such as olive oil.
- Low-fat dairy: This food promotes the excretion of uric acid.
- Whole grains: whole grain bread, rice, and pasta have been associated with a lower risk of gout.
Another nutritional aspect that will help keep uric acid low is good hydration since water helps the body to eliminate its excess in the blood. Also taking vitamin C supplements, about 500 milligrams a day for a month, leads to a small reduction in uric acid in the blood, according to a review of 13 studies.
Although care should be taken because a high intake of these supplements can increase the risk of kidney stones. To this list of foods, we could add the data of a very complete study, published in the British Medical Journal, which analyzed the diets of almost 45,000 men for 26 years.
People who more closely followed a DASH diet, designed to combat high blood pressure and which focuses on lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy, and whole grains, had a lower risk of gout. In contrast, people who ate a more Western diet, with more red and processed meats, fried foods, refined grains, and sweets, had a higher risk of gout.
Foods to avoid
One of the things to do to keep your uric acid levels balanced is to limit your intake of foods high in purines, compounds found naturally in certain foods. When the body breaks them down, it produces uric acid. This process of metabolizing purine-rich foods can lead to gout by causing the body to produce too much uric acid.
Foods high in purines should be avoided such as:
- Fish such as trout, tuna, sardines, anchovies, and mussels
- High-fat foods like bacon, dairy products, and red meat.
- Alcoholic beverages especially beer. Alcohol, in addition to raising uric acid levels, can inhibit the body’s ability to process and eliminate uric acid. In a meta-analysis of 17 studies involving 42,000 adults, it was shown that the relative risk of gout for people who consume more alcohol is almost double compared to non-drinkers or light drinkers.
- Sugary foods and drinks fructose increase the metabolism of purines, raising uric acid levels in the blood. Uric acid levels tend to be higher in people who consume sugary drinks or soft drinks.
The Arthritis Foundation highlights the importance of maintaining an adequate weight to keep gout at bay. Obesity is, therefore, a risk factor.
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