Gout is a common form of arthritis. If you have or are at risk for gout, you need to know about purines and uric acid.
Your body makes purines. They are also present in certain foods. Uric acid is a byproduct of digesting purines.
Managing uric acid levels is key. High uric acid levels increase the risk of developing gout. If you have gout, uric acid can cause attacks.
In this article, you’ll learn what gout is, whether you’re at risk, and how to eat to keep your uric acid levels low.
Uric acid, purines and gout
Gout is a chronic joint disease. It is caused by a buildup of uric acid in the blood. This can form urate crystals in your joints. Crystals can cause inflammation, swelling, and severe pain.
Your body filters uric acid through your kidneys. Then it will flow out of your urine. However, you may have too much uric acid if:
- you eat a diet high in purines
- your body overproduces them
- or you can’t excrete it fast enough
Gout comes on suddenly, and the pain is often unbearable.
High purine levels can lead to uric acid crystals in the joints. This can lead to a gout attack. Flares involve sudden, severe pain and inflammation.
gout risk factors
There are several risk factors for gout. Some are beyond your control, such as age and genetics. You may have some control over others.
Risk factors include:
- Diet: A diet high in purines, fructose (fruit sugar), and alcohol increases the risk of gout.
- Obesity: Studies show that gout is more common in people who are overweight or obese.
- Gender: Physiological men under the age of 50 tend to have higher uric acid levels and more frequent gout. Menopause levels the playing field.
- Medical conditions: Kidney disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and high blood pressure (hypertension) can all increase your risk of gout.
- Family history: A relative with gout means you’re more likely to develop gout.
- Age: Biological men most commonly develop gout between the ages of 30 and 50. Biological women are at increased risk after menopause.
The most common cause of gout is an impairment of the way the body excretes uric acid. Diseases affecting the kidneys are often to blame.
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Diet and uric acid secretion
Research looked at the relationship between diet and your ability to secrete uric acid.
A study found that a diet rich in plants can reduce the acidity of urine. This seems to help the body get rid of uric acid through urination.
Research has also shown a relationship between vitamin C and gout. Foods rich in vitamin C (citrus, peppers, strawberries, and broccoli) or supplements can also help your body flush out uric acid.
Many factors contribute to your risk of gout. Some (like diet) can be modified. But others (like age) cannot. Your diet and conditions affecting your kidneys can change how well your body eliminates uric acid.
fruits and most vegetables
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Avoid purine-rich foods
Limiting purine-rich foods in your diet can help reduce gout attacks. But diet alone usually doesn’t prevent gout attacks. This is because a variety of factors can cause flares, including:
- Purine Production: The amount your body produces naturally.
- Taking diuretics: Medicines that make the kidneys produce more urine.
- The problem with excreting uric acid: how effectively your body gets rid of it.
The type of food can also affect the risk of a gout attack. Foods linked to high uric acid levels and more frequent flare-ups include:
- manufactured food
- animal products
- High Purine Seafood
Plant-based purines are unlikely to raise your uric acid levels.
Be aware of how different foods affect you. Everyone has different restrictions and different foods that can trigger a gout attack.
high purine foods
People with gout should avoid or eat less high-purine foods. These include:
- Alcohol: all types
- Red meat: beef, pork, lamb, venison and other wild mammals
- Seafood and shellfish: shrimp, mussels, anchovies, sardines, and lobster
- Internal organs: liver, kidney, heart, tongue, belly, etc.
You should also avoid gravy.
Moderate purine foods
These foods should be eaten in moderation:
- Wheat bran
- Haricot vert
- kidney beans
- dried peas
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low purine foods
Low-purine foods are safe for a gout diet. These foods can focus your diet on:
- Vegetables (other than those listed above)
- all fruits
- low-fat dairy
health and safety
The development of gout and gout attacks is associated with uric acid crystals in the joints. This can cause sudden severe pain and inflammation. Uric acid crystals arise from high purine levels.
Your risk of developing gout depends on several factors, including age, diet, obesity, kidney function and genetics. Diet is the most important way to reduce risk.
A low-purine diet can help manage the risk of gout and gout attacks.
How to Prevent Gout
If you have gout or are at high risk, talk with your healthcare provider about preventing uric acid crystals from forming. Diet alone may not be enough.
If you’re struggling with a low-purine diet, it may be helpful to see a nutritionist who can help you design a diet that’s right for you.
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