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Purine Rich Foods and Gout: How to Lower Uric Acid Levels

Updated on March 28, 2015
Oysters, alcohol and beef are common sources of purine. Purine raises uric acid levels in the body and promotes crystals to form in our joints. These conditions can be a precursor to gout attacks.
Oysters, alcohol and beef are common sources of purine. Purine raises uric acid levels in the body and promotes crystals to form in our joints. These conditions can be a precursor to gout attacks. | Source

Article Contents

What is Gout?

What is Uric Acid?

Gout Triggers: Attacks

What is Purine?

Purine Rich Foods

How to Lower Uric Acid Levels

References

What is Gout?

Gout is a form of arthritis and is very painful. Gout occurs with the build up of uric acid.

Uric acid buildup can lead to:

  • Hyperuricemia: elevated uric acid levels.
  • Sharp uric acid crystals in joints.
  • Sharp uric acid crystals in the big toe.
  • Deposits of uric acid under the skin, known as tophi.
  • Kidney stones.

It is not uncommon for the very first gout attack to wake one from sleep with a very red, swollen, warm and painful big toe.

What is Uric Acid?

Uric acid is naturally present in the human body. It is a normal waste product of dying cells and can accumulate when the body absorbs purine in the diet. Normally, the body disposes of uric acid through the urine. However, if the kidneys cannot eliminate elevated levels of uric acid, the elevated level is known as hyperuricemia.

Extended periods (months and years) of hyperuricemia result in the body storing uric acid. The acid eventually crystallizes in the joints and tissues. Accumulation of these crystals then leads to the first gout attack.

An injury to joints can trigger a gout attack.
An injury to joints can trigger a gout attack. | Source

Gout Triggers: Attacks


A purine rich diet is not the only cause of gout attacks. Once hyperuricemia has occurred, the following events may trigger gout:


  • injury to joints
  • excessive alcohol
  • excessive exercise
  • heavy illness
  • severe infections
  • stress
  • sudden weight loss

What is Purine?

Simply said, purine is an organic compound found in foods. Once purine is metabolized, it oxidizes into uric acid. The excessive consumption of purine rich foods can lead to uric acid buildup (hyperuricemia) and may eventually cause gout.

Purine Rich Foods

Animal proteins: Meat, poultry and fish are high in purine. The MayoClinic recommends limiting the daily intake of animal protein to 4 or 6 ounces. A gout sufferer should especially avoid the following animal proteins:

  • Beef
  • Beef brains
  • Calf tongue
  • Duck
  • Liver
  • Kidneys
  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Veal
  • Venison
  • Anchovies
  • Tuna
  • Lobster
  • Oysters
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Scallops

In addition to those identified above, the following foods contain moderate to high levels of purines:

  • Asparagus
  • Cauliflower
  • Mushrooms
  • Navy Beans
  • Oats

How to Reduce Uric Acid Levels

Gout Treatment: Find Relief with Tart Cherry Juice »Tart cherry juice has been found to reduce uric acid levels in the blood, decrease the incidence of gout attacks and flare up and aids in reducing inflammation.

How to Lower Uric Acid Levels

Fats: All of us should avoid saturated fats, however, gout suffers are at greater risk of its consumption. Saturated fats reduce the body's natural ability to eliminate uric acid. In addition, saturated fats lead to obesity, which increases the risk of gout and other health issues.

Alcohol: Alcohol affects the kidneys and interferes with their ability to remove excessive uric acid in our system. Of all the various types of alcohol, beer has been shown to be the highest trigger of gout attacks.

High Fructose Corn Syrup: Many soft drinks and commercially sold beverages are rich in high fructose corn syrup. This particular carbohydrate increases uric acid. Choose natural fruit juice instead.

Reduce Excessive Weight: A slow reduction of excessive weight can aid in reducing uric acid levels and can help reduce gout.

Increase Low-fat Dairy Consumption: Moderate low-fat dairy consumption may help reduce uric acid levels.

Drink Water: Drinking pure clear water helps flush your body of toxins and acid build up.

Eat fruit: Strawberries, bananas, blueberries and cherries are good choices for gout suffers. They are low in purine and have added health benefits.

Tart Cherry Juice: Various studies have found gout sufferers to gain improvement with tart cherry juice. Studies reported pain was alleviated and inflammation was reduced.

"In conclusion, our studies suggest that, consumption of cherry juice concentrate for a period of 4 months or longer, reduces acute gout flares, via anti-inflammatory actions such as inhibition of IL-1β secretion." Journal of Arthritis: February 2012


Gout: Natural Ayurvedic Home Remedies

References

Gout & Uric Acid Education Society

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

MayoClinic.com

University of Maryland Medical Center

Choi, H. K., K. Atkinson, E. W. Karlson, W. Willett, and G. Curhan. "Purine-Rich Foods, Dairy and Protein Intake, and the Risk of Gout in Men." N Engl J Med. 2004

Gout. Nutrition Care Manual. American Dietetic Association. March 22, 2012

Choi HK. A prescription for lifestyle change in patients with hyperuricemia and gout. Current Opinion in Rheumatology. 2010

Disclaimer: The information provided in this hub should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. Please consult a physician for medical and dietary advice and treatment. Gout and uric acid buildup should not be assumed or treated without the supervision of a medical professional.

© 2012 Marisa Hammond Olivares

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    • profile image

      diogenes 3 years ago

      Hi again. After suffering agony for years and vainly using diets to beat my gout, I finally capitulated and am on allopurinol for the duration. It took several months to get all those nasty little crystals out, in fact, they wont all be clear for about a year (6 months to go). But the relief from regular episodes of gout and almost constant annoyance is overwhelming. Severe suffers: don't wait allopurinol has been a life saver for me and millions; don't waste more life in pain.

      Bob

    • Creative Mixtress profile image

      Dori Ball 3 years ago from Safety Harbor, Florida

      Great article Miss Olive! For the longest time I thought I had arthritis but after pulling a tendon in my arm and getting x-rays the doctor found no arthritis but tons of small calcium deposits. I took pH tests and found I was double acidic. To my surprise I found that I suffer from gout... but if I drink lemon water and keep to an alkaline diet I do not have problems. If I am a bad girl and enjoy too much of what I love... sugar, wine, red meat, more wine (you get the picture) I hobble around like an old lady. Thank you for sharing your knowledge... too many of us suffer from gout and don't want to take prescription meds to combat it.

    • missolive profile image
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      Marisa Hammond Olivares 4 years ago from Texas

      Yay! I helped create a new Pinterest board, you made my evening! I look forward to reading more from you and I'll go make sure I am following that board, we are blessed with lots of healthy hubs on HubPages...so many wonderful things to pin. Thanks again for everything.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Well, you've given me more than one good idea today. :) Have been wondering where I wanted to put this type of hub on Pinterest. I have a couple of boards they could go on, but after reading this I decided to create a new one in my Ways with Food categories. Pinning this to W w/ F: Disease Fighting. Thanks for helping me figure that out!

    • missolive profile image
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      Marisa Hammond Olivares 4 years ago from Texas

      Hi RTalloni, a preventative diet sure seems like the way to go for all ages, especially those more susceptible to various ailments. I'm sorry to hear your friend has had to deal with gout, they say it is incredibly painful. You know, you have many wonderful recipes on HubPages and with the list of food no-nos I bet you could come up with the perfect 'purine free' dish. It is always a pleasure to see you, I sincerely appreciate you stopping by to read and comment..

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks for this look lowering uric acid levels. Sounds like a preventive diet could be in order for aging people. A few friends (one quite young) have mentioned having gout over the years. It's good to learn more about this disease and have the information in one's back pocket should the need arise.

    • missolive profile image
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      Marisa Hammond Olivares 5 years ago from Texas

      Sharyn's Slant, Hi there! What an amazing story! I can't believe they didn't catch that. I'm so glad it wasn't gout after all. Guess you did learn quite a bit about out it though. Thanks for sharing.

      cclitgirl, a friend of mine also deals with it. It does seem quite painful and incredibly aggravating. Makes me think twice about what I'm eating. Take care of yourself CC. Thank you for reading and commenting.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Egads...gout. Ick...eek. I have an acquaintance with gout. Actually, about ten years ago, he was my roommate's fiancée and he would get these horrible bouts of gout. Ack. I had no idea...but right this second, my skin is crawling after reading...it's so very informative, but now that I know, I'm reminded of how I don't do so well with blood and guts. LOL. Thanks for sharing this - I definitely learned a few things.

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Great info Mo! About six years ago, I was having terrible right foot pain to a point of being in tears even while at work. I went to a Podiatrist, they took x-rays, told me I had gout and sent me home with meds. I couldn't understand why I would get gout since I do not eat the foods that mainly cause it. I had no relief for weeks and ended up going to a different specialist. They took x-rays too. The next thing I knew, I had a pretty purple cast all the way up to my knee. I did not have gout. I had a badly broken foot that somehow was not seen on the first x-rays. BUT, because I was told I did have gout, I learned a lot back then, ha.

    • missolive profile image
      Author

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 5 years ago from Texas

      diogenes: Hi Bob, aging sure seems to tally up all the harm we've done to our body over the years. It is bound to eventually add up. You are right on some of the contradictions; as I continue my research and as I am finding foods beneficial for one ailment I often find it is a no no for another. Kind of reminds me of something my dad told me once, sorry kiddo, I didn't make you with a warranty. :)

      Austinstar, I'm so sorry to hear you suffer from gout. Interesting on the postmenopausal diagnosis. I wonder why that is? It seems our hormones are somehow related to uric acid buildup. Plus, men tend to have gout more than women. Hmmmmm now you have me curious about how estrogen may play a role. Glad to hear there are some helpful meds out there for gout attacks. Sounds like Colchicine is a good option for you when attacks arise. Good luck with the shrimp, I love em' too.

      teaches12345, thank you so much. I think you are right. Plenty of water to help flush the body of toxins and avoiding a purine rich diet may definitely keep a potential gout diagnosis far from our personal medical records.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I have learned much from your post and found it very interesting. I have heard of gout but did not know what it was. Seems that eating right and drinking lots of water would really help to prevent this from overtaking a person.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      I've had gout for several years now. Did you know that women only get gout attacks after menopause?

      My nemesis is shrimp! I love shrimp, but when I eat it now, I have to really limit it and drink tons of water and cherry juice or I will have a terrible gout attack.

      Colchicine is a new med they gave me for gout attacks and it works very well. Plus you only have to take it during an attack, it's not a maintenance type of pill you have to take every day.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hi Olive: nasty thing, gout, and once it gets you, it comes back with greater ease. The problem with ageing is that it comes with several conflicting ills: treating one with a suitable diet, often aggravates another condition. Useful hub...I though I knew all about gout, but I hadn't realised salmon and tuna were also high in purines...

      Bob