What are Purines and Uric Acid?
Uric acid is a byproduct that is produced in the body when you digest purines. Purines are a type of chemical that are naturally present in many different kinds of common foods, such as meats, seafood, and simple sugars. People with gout have an excessive amount of uric acid in their bloodstream. As a result, uric acid “crystals” form deposits in the joints. This can be a painful condition. Patients often notice that, in particular, a big toe is one of the joints frequently affected.
It is essential to reduce uric acid in the body not only to help prevent pain, but also to prevent other medical conditions. If gout is left untreated, it can lead to kidney stones or kidney disease. Eventually, it may cause kidney failure.
Gout can often be treated effectively with the proper diet. Eating foods low in purines and avoiding foods high in purines is an important step. There are also certain foods that reduce uric acids actively. If you have an insufficient amount of potassium in your body, this can exacerbate gout by increasing uric acid crystals. Potassium helps prevent uric acid from forming deposits, so that it can be eliminated from the body.
Your diet should have plenty of potassium-rich foods, such as spinach, cantaloupe, orange juice, and carrots. One cup of cooked spinach provides your body with 838 milligrams (mg) of potassium. A cup of orange juice generally offers about 436 mg, and 15 raw baby carrots provide 420 mg of potassium. Other good sources of this nutrient include skim milk, bananas, dried peaches, and baked potatoes (skin left on).
It is recommended that the average person consume 3,500 mg of potassium daily. Ask your doctor if you should aim for this amount, or if it is safe for you to take more potassium. Before embarking on any new diet plan, consult your doctor or nutritionist.
A diet plan for foods that reduce uric acids in the body should also include plenty of fiber. Fiber, especially water-soluble fiber, can help reduce uric acid and treat gout by absorbing the bile produced by your liver. This helps prevent the formation of uric acid crystals. A minimum amount of daily fiber for women is considered to be between 21 to 25 grams (g) and men should consume at least 30 to 38 g.
Add fiber to your diet gradually to allow your body to acclimate to it. Good sources of fiber include apples with the skin on (4.4 g of fiber), bananas (3.1 g), oranges (3.1 g), and raspberries (1 cup equals 8.0 g). Oatmeal (1 cup equals 4.0 g), lentils (1 cup equals 15.6 g) and artichokes (10.3 g) are also good sources of fiber.
When you begin eating a high-fiber diet, you also need to drink plenty of water. Drinking a minimum of 6 to 8 eight oz. glasses of water each day can help flush the uric acid out of your body. It will also help prevent the uric acid crystals from forming in the first place.
Squeeze a fresh lemon into a glass or two of water each day. The lemon juice encourages calcium carbonate to form in the body. Calcium carbonate helps neutralize uric acid to prevent gout from flaring up.
Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages. Alcohol will increase uric acid levels and hamper your body’s efforts to eliminate it.
Other Helpful Foods
Eat a handful of fresh or frozen cherries every day to relieve your gout symptoms. Cherries naturally contain an enzyme that works to neutralize uric acid. Grapes can also help decrease acidity, as well as assist in eliminating uric acid. Strawberries and the herb saffron also have this neutralizing effect.