What Is A Uric Acid Diet?
Let’s discuss a diet to lower uric acid. There’s no denying a strong relationship between what you eat, your uric acid levels and having a gout attack or flare up.
There is obviously relationship – the problem comes in knowing exactly what you ate that triggered the gout attack.
The Relationship Between Uric Acid and Gout
In order to understand what foods caused the gout attack it’s important to understand the underlying mechanisms of gout.
Gout is caused by excess uric acid levels in the body. Uric acid is a byproduct of purines after they are broken down. Purines are naturally occurring substances found in all of the body’s cells and in most foods. Purines are a common substance because they provide part of the chemical structure of the genes of humans, plants and animals.
It’s logical that if purines caused uric acid then lowering purines would cause a lowering of uric acid. This is correct to a certain degree, however, there’s something else to factor into the equation. We must understand that there are 2 sources of purines – external and internal or those that we eat and those that our body naturally produces respectively.
Out of the 2 sources external and internal purines, the ones we eat (external) make up the minority. Yet this is where the mainstream dietary approach to managing gout has been focused on. Recommendations of “low purine” diets will have you avoiding food items such as: beef, lamb, chicken, pork, tuna and fish. All with the notion that lowering your intake of purines will result in a lowering of your uric acid levels. This is totally wrong.
A low purine diet would have you eating like a vegetarian. Yet studies have estimated the rate of gout in vegetarians in India at around 7%, which is no lower than average (1). In theory if decreasing our intake of purines in our diet really did affect uric acid levels then the incidence of gout should be lower.
The recommendation of the low purine diet and associated gout foods to avoid has been around for decades – it’s nothing new. If this really was a solution to gout then we would see gout rates dropping, instead we see the exact opposite.
A recent medical press release reveals shocking statistics:
This has to make you realize that this approach to managing gout has it all wrong.
The Reality Of A Uric Acid Diet
Remember I mentioned uric acid was influence by 2 sources of purines – external (which comes from the food we eat) and internal (which comes from inside our body). It’s the internal purines that make up the largest bulk of purines in our body and have the biggest influence on our uric acid levels and therefore the probability of having a gout attack.
Uric acid levels in the body are influenced by the total production of uric acid and the excretion of uric acid. Either an increased uric acid production and/or a decrease in uric acid excretion can increase total uric acid levels. Certain foods have been shown to influence the production and excretion of uric acid with the end result being more or less total uric acid in the body.
For example it’s been shown that eating more protein actually increases the excretion of uric acid therefore decreasing the level of uric acid in the blood (2). Concentrating on these types of factors are much more important than paying attention to eating low purine foods.
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1.duncan’s diseases of metabolism, p. 631
2. Hydrick cr and fox ih, nutrition and gout, in present knowledge in nutrition, fifth edition, the nutrition foundation, Washington dc, 1984, p. 743