More and more people are finding they have higher uric acid levels than is healthy for them after a routine blood test.
Some problems such an excess may cause have been known for ages. Uric acid is behind the painful attacks of gout medieval kings and lords suffered and these attacks were linked to an excessive consumption of meat, even then.
Modern diet is likely to be the culprit, although diet is not the only known cause. Uric acid is a breakdown product from purines, substances present in many foods we eat, but also produced internally due to cell regeneration. Although both metabolism and diet may set off these high levels of uric acid in blood, diet is always part of the solution. Eating the right foods may help to control uric acid.
Is there a problem?
Uric acid has beneficial effects in our bodies. In healthy people, production and elimination of uric acid are balanced so that the uric acid is maintained at a normal level in the blood. Problems come when there is an excess. If that imbalance is not taken care of, it may lead to gout, kidney stones, and crystals blocking the tubules in the kidneys, leading to kidney infection, urine infection, or kidney failure. Abnormal levels of uric acid have also been associated with the metabolic syndrome, a condition that can lead to adult diabetes.
What to do to reduce uric acid
A diet to control uric acid is low in purines and easy on kidney function, as these organs are in charge of elimination.
Drink plenty of liquid - mainly water. Vegetable broth, especially onion, or rosemary infusion, up to 2-3 cups a day, are said to be beneficial. Carbonated water, 1-2 cups per day, may be recommended.
Have little or no salt - a low sodium diet helps to eliminate liquid together with the uric acid dissolved in it, a high sodium diet, promotes liquid retention.
Eat food high in potassium - such as fruit, up to 2 pieces a day, and nuts.
Eat all your meals - at regular times, keep a rhythm and don't miss a meal. It helps.
What to avoid
Purines - For food high in purines, complete avoidance is best to bring uric acid down. Avoid or eat in moderation food containing purines, and avoid eating two of these foods on the list in the same meal.
Any type of alcoholic drink - wine and beer don't have purines but elimination of alcohol through the kidneys takes precedence to elimination of uric acid. Uric acid in serum may spike as a result. If you must, better have grape juice or zero alcohol beer.
Fasting - don't, don't miss a meal, and don't stay without food for long periods. Not eating makes the body to use its reserves, which happen to be high in purines, and will not reduce uric acid levels, quite the opposite.
When there are elevated levels of uric acid in the blood, uric acid crystals deposite in joints and tissues. In the long term, these deposits can become gout, produce arthritis as bone is eroded, or the crystals can become kidney stones.