There is something called purines. These purines are present in certain foods and drinks. Whenever we eat foods with purine, our body gets to work and breaks down the purines. In this process of breaking down the purines, the body produces the chemical we know as uric acid.
Now the question arises, what happens to this uric acid? It gets dissolved dissolved in the blood and travels to our kidneys and from there, just passes out with urine. Now if this uric acid is not passed out of your body with the urine, you will suffer from hyperuricemia. Hyperuricemia simply means the presence of excessive uric acid in the blood. It is not at all good to have high levels of uric acid in the body. High uric acid levels can cause gout or kidney disease.
So, does this mean that when we have purine rich diet, we will suffer from high uric acid levels in the body? Yes, this is true, in fact, partially true. If you eat more purine rich foods but all the uric acid produced in the body gets excreted with urine, you won’t have hyperuricemia. Also, purine rich diet is not the only cause of high uric acid levels in the blood. There are many other causes of hyperuricemia.
Causes of High Uric Acid Levels in Blood
These can be listed as follows:
- Insulin resistance
- Renal insufficiency
- Purine rich diet
To better understand the causes of high uric acid levels, try to understand the classification of the causes. There can be three groups of causes for hyperuricemia:
- Increased production of uric acid
- Decreased excretion of uric acid in urine
- Simultaneous increase in production and decrease in excretion of uric acid
Increased production of uric acid
Basically purine rich diet is in the roots of the increased production of uric acid but this is a minor cause. In fact, there are certain foods that have certain specific types of purines and consuming them can lead to high levels of uric acid. These purines are adenine and hypoxanthine. When we eat foods rich in these types of purines, we are at the risk of developing hyperuricemia.
Decreased excretion of uric acid in urine
As far as decreased excretion of uric acid is concerned, genes need to be blamed. There is a gene which encodes a protein which, in turn, helps in transporting uric acid to the kidney. Defect in this gene or some other conditions related to genes can be causing decreased excretion of uric acid. Apart from this, a ketogenic diet also negatively affects the ability of kidneys to excrete uric acid. This is because a competition for transport arises between uric acid and ketones. The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet.
Simultaneous increase in production and decrease in excretion of uric acid
Now comes the increased production of uric acid and its decreased excretion at the same time. This is due to alcohol consumption and high intake of fructose as well as starvation. Alcohol (ethanol) increases the production of uric acid by increasing the production of lactic acid. Alcohol also decreases excretion of uric acid by promoting dehydration.
When you consume sugar sweetened diet, the production of uric acid increases due to interference by a product of fructose metabolism. Fructose also competes with uric acid to use the transport protein essential for travelling to kidneys where they must be excreted with urine. This leads to decreased excretion of uric acid.
When your body starves, it starts metabolizing its own purine-rich tissues for energy. Thus, it increases the amount of uric acid in the blood. Starvation leads to increased ketones in the body as well. Therefore, it also affects the ability of kidneys to excrete uric acid, again due to competition for transport protein between uric acid and ketones.
What is the normal range of uric acid
Before knowing how to control uric acid levels, let’s know what are the normal uric acid levels.
- The normal range of uric acid for men is 3.4 – 7.0 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).
- The normal range of uric acid for women is 2.4 – 6.0 mg/dL.
- The normal range of uric acid for children is 2.5 – 5.5 mg/dL.
Home Remedies to reduce Uric Acid Levels
If you have read the causes of high uric acid levels above carefully, you must have concluded that home remedies for hyperuricemia include having low purine diet, taking steps to properly excrete the uric acid formed inside the body and to avoid alcoholism, high fructose diet as well as starvation.
Cherries have the ability to lower uric acid levels. In a study conducted with tart cherries, the participants consumed tart cherry juice concentrate mixed with water. More uric acid was found to have excreted from their bodies as compared to the other group that did not consume cherry juice.
How to have cherries to reduce uric acid levels
- Eat cherries
- Drink cherry juice
- Snack on canned cherries
- If you can’t eat more of them, have cherry fruit extract (about 1000 mg)
Half a pound (about 230 g) of cherries in a day is enough. Also have other berries like blue berries etc.
Eat more Vegetables
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, fiber rich foods may help lower uric acid levels in blood. When you eat more vegetables, you help you body reduce its acidity. This in turn helps contain uric acid build-up. However, don’t have more of those vegetables that are rich sources of purine. Some of such veggies include spinach, asparagus, peas and cauliflower. If having them, have only very small quantities of these vegetables. These are only few vegetables that you have to exclude. There are so many vegetables available that you won’t miss these few!
Have Potassium rich diet
Potassium can be defined as an electrolyte found in water and many other foods. The potassium present in fruits and vegetables contains organic salts like citrate and malate. These salts can neutralize uric acid in the urine. It also facilitates excretion of uric acid and prevents formation of crystals. Excessive uric acid leads to the formation of small crystals of urate that get deposited in the synovial fluid (lubricating fluid around joints) to cause gout. Having potassium rich diet can help you get rid of high uric acid levels as well as such conditions as gout and kidney stones.
Foods and Drinks rich in Potassium
- Coconut water
- Fruits like cantaloupes, dates, figs, kiwis, mangoes, oranges
- Vegetables like artichokes, squash, beets, carrots, beans, peas, potatoes and tomatoes. Peas are also high in purines so have them in limited quantities.
- Raw cultured dairy
Avoid Foods high in Purines
Purine loaded foods become the cause of high uric acid levels when they produce so much of uric acid that it is difficult for kidneys to excrete it through urine. So, when you test positive for high levels of uric acid in blood, avoid having these foods.
- Seafood like anchovies, herring, sardines, mussels, scallops, trout, haddock, mackerel and tuna.
- Meats such as liver, kidney and sweetbreads
- Vegetables high in purines like asparagus, spinach, peas, cauliflower and mushrooms. However, these veggies have high to moderate amounts of purine and thus can be taken in smaller quantities.
Drink plenty of Water
No prizes to guess why you should drink more water to reduce uric acid levels! Drinking more fluid helps body get rid of excess uric acid by increasing urine output. Not only uric acid, drinking water, in fact, helps your body get detoxified as it epels all the toxins out of your body.
- Have at least 10-12 glasses of water every day
- If you can’t have high amounts of plain water, add mild and natural flavors like lime juice and mint leaves
- Substitute water with healthy drinks like fruit juices, coconut water, lemon water etc. However, even when having healthy substitutes, have some plain water.
- Have watery fruits and veggies
Use Olive oil for cooking
Vegetable oils become rancid fats when you heat them. When you consume such oil, it destroys the vitamin E present in the body. This vitamin is needed to control uric acid levels. Therefore, you must use some oil that will not go rancid and destroy the crucial vitamin E inside your body. Cold pressed olive oil serves the purpose. Olive oil contains monounsaturated fats which stays stable even if you heat the oil.
- Use olive oil in place of vegetable oil, butter or shortening when you cook or bake your dishes.
- Use virgin olive oil for making salad dressings
Apple cider vinegar lowers uric acid levels
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is high in potassium. It also helps in balancing the acid-alkaline levels of your body in spite of the fact that it contains acetic acid. Your system becomes more alkaline when you drink apple cider vinegar. This is helpful for you because when your body is more alkaline, uric acid cannot buildup inside you.
- Apple cider vinegar- 1 tsp
- Water- 1 glass
- Add the apple cider vinegar to water and mix well
- Drink it
- Repeat thrice a day.
Drink Lemon juice
Lemon juice is yet another healthy drink that can neutralize uric acid in your body. Lemon juice, like works to promote the production of digestive juices including bicarbonate. This helps neutralize acidity inside the body. Lemon juice also stimulates the production of calcium carbonate in the body, which also helps neutralize uric acid.
- Lemon- 1
- Warm water- 1 glass
- Squeeze the lemon to extract its juice
- Add this lemon juice to the warm water and mix well
- Have it on an empty stomach in the morning
- You can also have a glass of warm lemon water in the evening.
Baking Soda helps lower high Uric Acid Levels
Just like apple cider vinegar and lemon juice, baking soda also helps in making your body more alkaline. Alkaline environment makes it easier for uric acid to expel itself out of the body. However, if you suffer from high blood pressure, avoid this remedy using baking soda. Also, do not consume baking soda on a regular basis.
- Baking soda- 1 tsp
- Water- 1 glass
- Add baking soda to water and mix
- Drink the solution
- Repeat 3-4 times a day
- However, do not have baking soda for more than two weeks at a stretch.
Use Cream of Tartar
Cream of tartar is a fine white powder mainly used for various food recipes. It is an acid known as potassium hydrogen tartrate. This acid works in similar ways as apple cider vinegar and lemon juice do. It stimulates the digestive juices including bicarbonate released by the pancreas and helps in making the blood and urine more alkaline.
- Cream of Tartar- ¼ to ½ tsp
- Water- 1 glass
- Add cream of tartar to water
- Mix and drink
- Have twice a day
Celery seeds help reduce uric acid levels
Celery seeds have been used since ancient times by many traditional medicines to treat water retention, poor digestion, different types of arthritis etc. These days it is mostly used as a diureticto help eliminate water by increasing urine output. It is therefore beneficial in curing inflammation as well as arthritis and gout. Gout, as we know, is a result of high uric acid levels in the body.
Celery seed are available in the form of fresh or dried seeds, tablets, capsules filled with celery seed oil and celery seed extract. You can consult a herbalist when taking celery seed extract. Usually 450 mg of celery seed extract is suggested twice or thrice a day.
Stinging Nettle for Uric Acid
Stinging nettle has diuretic properties. It is a slow-acting nutritive herb which cleanses the body of metabolic wastes. Due to its gentle, stimulating effect on the lymphatic system, stinging nettle promotes the excretion of wastes through kidneys including uric acid. It is traditionally used for treating arthritis and gout, both having their origin in high uric acid levels. This herb promotes elimination of uric acid from joints due to its alkalizing diuretic properties.
- Fresh nettle leaves- 1 cup OR dried herb- 1 tsp
- Water- 1-2 cups
- Cinnamon and/or honey (optional)
- When using fresh leaves, boil the water and add the leaves to it
- Simmer for 10-15 minutes
- Strain and add honey or cinnamon or both, if using
- When using dried herb, add 1 tsp to 1 cup of hot water
- Cover and let it steep for about 5 minutes
- Strain and add flavors if using.
- Have 2-3 cups of this tea during the day.
Quercetin for Uric Acid
Quercetin is an antioxidant having bioflavonoids found naturally in certain foods. It is also available in supplemental form for medical use such as to relieve gout pain and inflammation. However, quercetin is more easily absorbed and is more effective when it is combined with bromelain, another enzyme explained in the next remedy. Quercetin is found in the following foods.
- Leafy greens
- Apples and berries
- Green and black tea
- Red wine
- Cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and other Brassica vegetables. Cauliflower, however, is also high in purine so have it carefully.
Quercetin is also available as a supplement. Experts suggest taking a dose of 250mg of quercetin 1 to 4 times a day.
Bromelain for lowering Uric Acid Levels
Bromelain is a proteolytic enzyme obtained from the stem of pineapple fruit. The excellent anti-inflammatory properties of bromelain cures many diseases like cancer, edema and arthritis as well as gout due to high uric acid levels. According to University of Maryland Medical Center, 40 mg of bromelain thrice a day can relieve pain and inflammation caused by gout. So, you can eat pineapple for getting a moderate amount of bromelain but if you have severe pain due to gout attack, you might like to have bromelain capsules.
- When there’s a gout attack, take 500mg of bromelain capsules every three hours until the attack subsides.
- In order to prevent gout attack, you may take 500mg bromelain capsule twice a day between meals, on an empty stomach.
Also take quercetin along with bromelain. Quercetin is the flavonoid which reduces high uric acid levels and works effectively when taken with bromelain as described in the previous remedy.
The Don’ts of high Uric Acid levels
Don’t have purine rich foods
By now you know purine leads to uric acid production inside body. Although uric acid formed by breaking down purine gets excreted with urine, once you have high levels of uric acid, avoid having purine rich foods. When already there is so much of uric acid inside your body, you won’t like to pile up more uric acid. Avoid these:
- Red meat, organ meats, beef
- Vegetables like asparagus, spinach, cauliflower, peas, and mushrooms
- Certain fish such as anchovies, codfish, haddock, herring, mackerel, mussels, sardines, scallops, trout and roe (fish eggs).
Alcohol is yet another major cause for high uric acid levels. Having large amounts of alcohol interferes with excretion of uric acid. Moreover alcoholic beverages contain purines. Beer has been especially labeled by American Dietetic Association for being a cause for gout. It could be the brewer’s yeast or some other component in beer that causes gout flare up.
Fruits have fructose, the natural sweetener but you don’t need to avoid fruits because natural fructose can be synthesized by human body effectively. The problem is with artificial fructose. Avoid having soda or soft drinks, canned juices that are sweetened using high-fructose corn syrup. When having gout attacks, you might also like to limit your fruit consumption.
Starvation causes high uric acid levels. If you want to know how, read the causes of high uric acid levels given earlier in this article. So, don’t starve yourself. No fad diets or fasting for long periods. Keep eating in moderation frequently throughout the day. However, don’t eat those foods that give rise to high levels of uric acid.
Avoid high sodium diet
You knew that a high-sodium diet leads to high blood pressure but did you know that more salt in your foods can also raise the uric acid levels in your blood! A study was conducted in 2012 to find out if high sodium intake causes high levels of serum uric acid (SUA) and urine albumin excretion (UAE). It was concluded that a higher sodium intake is associated with increases in both, SUA and UAE. So, have little salt to bring the uric acid levels down.
Don’t gain weight
Lose weight to decrease the uric acid levels. Obesity has been linked to increase the overall risk for high levels of uric acid in blood. It simply means that if you are over-weight, you are more likely to develop higher uric acid levels.
Don’t eat junk food
Fried foods and hydrogenated oils like soybean, vegetable, corn, and canola oil can worsen your gout by increasing the uric acid levels in the blood. They also lead to obesity, yet another cause for high uric acid levels.
Avoid refined carbohydrates
Sugar as well as other refined carbohydrates can make you insulin resistance which is also one of the causes of gout and high uric acid levels.
Taking these precautions and improving your diet as well as lifestyle will definitely bring down the high uric acid levels.