uric acid

Natural Ways to Uric Acid in the Body

Normally, your body filters out uric acid through your kidneys and in urine. If you consume too much purine in your diet, or if your body can’t get rid of this by-product fast enough, uric acid can build up in your blood.

A high uric acid level is known as hyperuricemia. This can lead to a disease called gout that causes painful joints that accumulate urate crystals. It can also make your blood and urine too acidic.

Uric acid is a natural waste product from the digestion of foods that contain purines. Purines are found in high levels in some foods such as:

  • certain meats
  • sardines
  • dried beans
  • beer

Certain health disorders can also lead to high uric acid levels:

  • kidney disease
  • diabetes mellitus
  • hypothyroidism
  • some types of cancers or chemotherapy
  • psoriasis

Uric acid can collect in your body for many reasons. Some of these are:

  • diet
  • genetics
  • obesity or being overweight
  • stress

Ways to lower uric acid

Drink coffee

Some research indicates that people who drink coffee are less likely to develop gout. For example, a 2010 analysis of data from female participants in the Nurses’ Health Study found that gout risk decreased as coffee consumption increased.

Women who consumed 1 to 3 cups of coffee per day had a 22% reduction in their risk of gout compared with those who drank no coffee. Women who consumed more than 4 cups of coffee per day had a 57% decrease in their risk of getting this condition.

A handful of studies have also linked coffee consumption to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. A 2014 systematic review and meta-analysis of long-term coffee consumption found that people who consumed 3–5 cups of coffee per day had the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease.

As people with gout have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, drinking coffee may help improve their overall health.

Avoid alcohol and sugary drinks

The heavy consumption both of alcohol and of sugary drinks — such as sodas and sweetened juices — correlates with an increased risk of developing gout.

Alcohol and sweetened drinks also add unnecessary calories to the diet, potentially causing weight gain and metabolic issues.

Maintain a healthy body weight

Reaching a healthy body weight may help reduce the risk of gout flares. Obesity increases the risk of gout, especially in people of a younger age.

Being overweight also increases a person’s risk of metabolic syndrome. It can raise blood pressure and cholesterol while increasing the risk of heart disease. While these effects are harmful in their own right, being overweight also has an association with a higher risk of elevated blood uric acid levels, raising the risk of gout.

Rapid weight loss, especially when it occurs due to fasting, may raise uric acid levels. Therefore, people should focus on making long-term sustainable changes to manage their weight, such as becoming more active, eating a balanced diet, and choosing nutrient-dense foods.

Avoid drugs that raise uric acid levels

Certain medications may elevate uric acid levels. These medicines include:

  • diuretic drugs, such as furosemide (Lasix) and hydrochlorothiazide
  • drugs that suppress the immune system, especially before or after an organ transplant
  • low-dose aspirin

Drugs that raise uric acid levels may offer essential health benefits, however, so people should speak to a doctor before changing any medications.

Eat more low-purine foods

By switching from foods with a high purine content to those with a lower purine content, some people may be able to steadily lower their uric acid levels or at least avoid further increases. Some foods with low purine content include:

  • low-fat and fat-free dairy products
  • peanut butter and most nuts
  • most fruits and vegetables
  • coffee
  • whole-grain rice, bread, and potatoes

Dietary changes alone will not get rid of gout, but they may help prevent flare-ups. It is also important to note that not everyone who gets gout eats a high-purine diet.

Other factors, such as genetic susceptibility, also play a role. African Americans are more vulnerable than white people to gout. Postmenopausal women and people with obesity also have a higher risk.

Limit purine-rich foods

Purines are compounds that occur naturally in some foods. As the body breaks down purines, it produces uric acid. The process of metabolizing purine-rich foods may lead to gout by causing the body to produce too much uric acid.

Some foods that are high in purines are otherwise healthful, so the goal should be to reduce the intake of purines rather than to avoid them altogether.

Foods with high purine content include:

  • wild game, such as deer (venison)
  • trout, tuna, haddock, sardines, anchovies, mussels, and herring
  • excess alcohol, including beer and liquor
  • high-fat foods, such as bacon, dairy products, and red meat (including veal)
  • organ meats, for example, liver and sweetbreads
  • sugary foods and beverages

Foods with moderate purine content include:

  • deli meats
  • most other meat, including ham and beef
  • poultry
  • oyster, shrimp, crab, and lobster

Add more fiber to your diet

Eating more fiber will help your body get rid of uric acid. Fiber can also help balance your blood sugar and insulin levels. It also tends to increase satiety, helping to lower the risk of overeating.

Add at least 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber a day with whole foods such as:

  • fresh, frozen, or dried fruit
  • fresh or frozen vegetables
  • oats
  • nuts
  • barley

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Try a vitamin C supplement

Taking a vitamin C supplement may lower the risk of gout. A 2011 meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials found that vitamin C significantly reduced levels of uric acid in the blood.

Reduced uric acid levels could lower the risk of gout attacks. Research has not conclusively proven that vitamin C treats or prevents gout, however — only that it lowers uric acid levels.

Eat cherries

Preliminary research suggests that cherries might reduce the risk of gout attacks, particularly in people with a prior history of the disease.

A 2012 study of 633 people with gout found that eating cherries for 2 days lowered the risk of a gout attack by 35% compared with eating no cherries.

This effect persisted even when researchers controlled for risk factors, such as age, sex, alcohol consumption, and use of diuretics or anti-gout medication.

Among people who also used allopurinol, an anti-gout drug, the combination of the drug and cherries lowered the risk of another attack by 75%.

Reduce stress

Stress, poor sleeping habits, and too little exercise can increase inflammation. Inflammation may set off a high uric acid level.

Practice mindful techniques such as breathing exercises and yoga to help you cope with your stress levels. Join a class or use an app that reminds you to breathe and stretch several times a day.

Practice good sleep hygiene such as:

  • avoiding digital screens for two to three hours before bedtime
  • sleeping and waking at consistent times every day
  • avoiding caffeine after lunchtime

Check your medications and supplements

Some medications and supplements can also cause uric acid to build up in the blood. These include:

  • aspirin
  • vitamin B-3 (niacin)
  • diuretics
  • immune-suppressing drugs
  • chemotherapy drugs

If you need to take any of these medications and you have hyperuricemia, your doctor can work with you to figure out a good alternative.

Bottom Line

Diet, exercise, and other healthy lifestyle changes can improve gout and other illnesses caused by high uric acid levels. However, they can’t always replace necessary medical treatment.

Take all prescribed medications as directed by your doctor. The right combination of diet, exercise, and medications can help keep symptoms at bay.

It may seem as if there a lot of foods you need to avoid to help lower uric acid levels. The best way to limit these foods is by making a weekly meal plan. Talk to your nutritionist for help in making the best diet plan for you.

Keep a list of foods on your shopping list that you should eat, rather than what you can’t eat. Stick to the list as you grocery shop. You can also join an online support group for people with uric acid-related illnesses for more ideas on how to prepare the best meals for you.

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