If you frequently experience severe pain in joints and see visible gouts on certain parts of your body, it is highly likely that your diet has excessive amounts of purine. Without cutting it out, the function of kidneys is likely to be disrupted causing a rise in the levels of uric acid in the body. The increased amount of uric acid will, in turn, cause inflammation in joints and cause discomfort.
WebMD research conducted in 2007/08 revealed that 6% of men and 2% of women were diagnosed with gout. On average 21% of the patients who suffered from this condition were known to have alleviated levels of uric acid.
There is an interlinking relationship between the development of gout, uric acid level and purine. Let us look and study all three of them in detail
Uric Acid & Purine
In a normal functioning body of a healthy person, there exists a certain amount of purine. Purine is broken down into uric acid which is filtered by the kidneys. A balanced amount of uric acid helps to regulate blood throughout the body by promoting healthy blood vessel linings. When the level of the uric acid surpasses the required limit, monosodium urate crystals start gathering in joints consequently resulting in the development of gout and kidney stones.
In normal circumstances, urologists would categorize the presence of high levels of uric acid in the body as a problem existing in the kidneys. This is because kidneys are responsible for the filtration of all the harmful substances and preventing them from accumulating in the blood. On the contrary side, a diet rich in purine can be one major cause of high levels as well.
The consequence of the increased amount of uric acid in the body propels the deposition of crystal-like structures in the joints and tissues. With a reasonable accumulation of these crystals, gout may develop. The symptoms of which include severe swelling, pain and inflammation.
Gout is first visible in the feet region affecting the toes then spreading to heels, ankles and finally the knee joint area. There have been four known stages of gout:
- Hyperuricemia: This is usually the initial stage where the level of uric acid gradually starts enhancing. The symptoms may not be expressive and consulting a professional may also be not required. The reason being that the present level may still remain below the excessive limit
- Acute Gout: The hyperuricemia then develops into the acute gout stage resulting in the accumulation of crystal-like structures. Symptoms will start to appear with swelling and redness of joints. A high level of stress and excessive use of alcohol can intensify the symptoms.
- Gout Attack: Usually lasts for three to ten days. However, cases have been reported where the first gout attack was accompanied by attacks that lasted for a duration as long as several months. This stage is characterized by an increase in the severity of the symptoms
- Chronic Tophaceous Gout: The last of the four stages and often the most devitalizing. The crystal accumulation may permanently damage the joints and can likely cause immobility. Prognosis may be difficult until a thorough commitment to low purine diet
Lowering Uric Acid Level through Low Purine Diet
Nutritionists have agreed that a diet containing 600 to 1000 milligrams is advised for healthy people. However, when the uric acid level is known to exceed, the intake is to be restricted to 100 to 150 milligrams per day.
Following are some of the few recommendations and tips that need to be taken into account to restore the normal level of uric acid in the body.
Foods NOT to take!
Animal’s organs (liver, kidneys), sardines, all types of alcohol beverages and yeast is known to contain a substantial amount of purines (>800 milligrams per three ounces) and therefore need to be avoided/
Foods Containing Moderate Amount of Purine
The following food items are essentially not categorized as purine-rich and having them once or twice every week is unlikely to enhance uric acid level:
The above mentioned dietary elements contain on average 200 milligrams of purine per every 3 ounces.
Though fruits and vegetables are known to be the least harmful food groups, particular caution needs to be taken to restrict the amount of spinach taken per week. Spinach may provide with a reasonable quantity of iron however at the same time, it is a major contributor towards raising the uric acid level in the body.
Low Purine Diet
A general exhaustive list of low purine diet is likely to include the following food items:
- Green Olives
- Peanut Butter
- Meat/Broth-less Soup
- Low-Fat Dairy Products
- Cold Deli/ Luncheon Meat
Research studies have suggested a strong inverse relationship between uric acid level and the number of low-fat dairy products consumed. Results have shown that chances of gout development are reduced to half with low-fat cheese and milk.
It is also important to be vigilant enough when consuming some of the above-mentioned food items. For example, whole grain rice and pasta is advised as opposed to multigrain since the latter will contain a significant amount of yeast that can amplify uric acid levels. Moreover, when meat is cooked, it is important to get rid of the skin by baking or boiling it. Skin of animals has the highest proportion of fat!
The dark chocolate is the one type of chocolate that is increasingly gaining popularity for its numerous health benefits. The flavonoids contained in dark chocolates have a positive relationship with maintaining the uric acid level in the body. For that reason, nutritionists would recommend including a reasonable portion of this chocolate in a low purine diet.
Though the benefits are considerable, it is still important to not bulge eat on dark chocolates for the high-calorie content present that can cause obesity-induced illnesses.
Including Coffee in Low Purine Diet
A research published in the Journal of Arthritis Care and Research shows some interesting results relating to coffee and other caffeine-containing products (for the purpose of research tea was used as a control).
It was found that people who drank four to six cups of coffee daily as a part of the low purine diet were able to reduce their uric acid level by 0.26 mg/dl.
On the flip side of it, other caffeine beverages like tea, sodas did not affect the uric acid levels of the person thereby leading to the conclusion that coffee beans do have substances that can be beneficial.
The benefits entail with cherries cannot be underemphasized and it should necessarily be included in a low purine diet. Nutritionists have mainly identified three main benefits of cherries that make them essentially good for the kidneys:
- Cherries contain the mineral potassium that helps in smooth functioning of the kidney and maintains blood pressure to the abdominal region.
- Cherry juice helps to reduce the production of crystal-like structure and accumulation of uric acid by making the environment alkaline
- Anthocyanins present in cherries help in overall reduction of uric acid
A Low Purine Diet Sample
A cup of Orange Juice
A cup of Cherry Juice
Whole Grain Cereal
Coffee with Low Fat Milk
A bowl of Fruit Salad
Whole Grain Bread/Pasta
Luncheon Meat (Boiled)
A bowl of Fruit Salad containing Cherries with Fat-Free Dressing Sauce
½ cup of Rice
Low Fat Milk/Cheese