High levels of uric acid in the blood is known as hyperuricemia and may be detected using a blood test. If you are suffering from hyperuricemia, then there are several dietary changes you can make to lower high uric acid levels.
What is Hyperuricemia
Hyperuricemia is an excess of uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is a naturally occurring waste product resulting from the breakdown of purines, crystalline compounds found in certain foods. It dissolves in the blood and passes through the kidneys and into urine for elimination. Most of it is eliminated in your urine, or passes through your intestines to regulate normal levels. Normal uric acid levels are 2.4-6.0 mg/dL (female) and 3.4-7.0 mg/dL (male).
Hyperuricemia occurs if there is an excessive intake of high-purine foods or if the kidneys do not eliminate the uric acid properly. Symptoms of hyperuricemia include fatigue, joint inflammation such as gout, or the formation of kidney stones.
Causes of High Uric Acid Levels
Several factors can cause high uric acid levels such as high levels of nitrogen-containing compounds, or purines, which accumulate faster than they can be eliminated, poorly functioning kidneys and pre-existing medical conditions.
Even though diet plays a major role in uric acid levels, anyone can have high levels of uric acid in the blood. Adult men and postmenopausal women have the highest risk. Other risk factors include:
- Untreated high blood pressure, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and kidney disease
- Obesity or being overweight
- Recent surgery or trauma
- Family history of gout
- Some medications including diuretics, low dose aspirin, immunosuppressant drugs
How to Lower Uric Acid Levels
Dietary changes can aid in lowering high uric acid levels. However, in severe cases, you should consult your physician to test uric acid levels and determine the best treatment for the underlying cause of hyperuricemia.
1. Get Enough Vitamin C
Getting enough vitamin C can help lower uric acid levels. Try eating a couple servings of foods that are rich in Vitamin C each day. Foods that are rich in vitamin C include:
- Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes
- Berries, cantaloupe, pineapple, mango, papaya, broccoli, peppers, sweet and white potatoes, tomatoes, leafy greens such as spinach, cabbage, and turnip greens, cauliflower, and winter squash
2. Eat High-Fiber Foods
Dietary fiber may aid your body’s absorption of uric acid in your bloodstream, allowing it to be removed by your kidneys. Try to include at least one high-fiber food in each major meal or snack. High-fiber foods include pineapple, oats, cucumbers, oranges, barley, carrots, and celery.
3. Limit Your Purine Intake
Since uric acid is produced from the metabolism of purine in the body, the best way to reduce uric acid levels is to limit the amounts of purine-rich foods in your diet. Do not exceed more than 2-4 servings of any of these foods per week and avoid them if you have uric-acid-containing kidney stones. Purine-rich foods to limit or avoid include:
- Fatty foods such as fried foods, butter, margarine, and high-fat dairy products
- Beef, chicken, pork, bacon, veal, and venison
- Organ meats such as liver, kidneys, and sweetbreads
- Anchovies, sardines, herring, mussels, codfish, scallops, trout, haddock, crab, oyster, lobster, and shrimp
- Sugary soft drinks
- Beer and liquor
4. Eat Calcium-Rich Foods
Make sure that you include calcium-rich foods in your diet, such as low-fat dairy products. Include one to two servings of calcium rich foods per day. Calcium rich foods include milk, yogurt and cheese.
5. Eat Phytate-Rich Foods
Phytate is a substance that can prevent the formation of kidney stones, including uric acid stones. Include 2-3 servings of phytate-rich foods every day. Phytate-rich foods include whole grains, legumes and beans.
6. Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup
According to a study, fructose increases uric acid, so avoid beverages sweetened with high fructose corn syrup as well as desserts and other items that contain this substance. It’s important to read food packages carefully, because HFCS is present in a lot of different foods, even those that don’t necessarily taste sweet, like bread or snack foods.
7. Limit Your Alcohol Intake
Alcohol increases your body’s levels of ethanol (alcohol), increasing your body’s production of uric acid. It also interferes with the removal of uric acid from the body. When alcohol is converted to lactic acid, it minimizes the amount of uric acid that is eliminated from the body through the kidneys. This is because the lactic acid competes with the uric acid for removal from the kidneys into the urine.
8. Stay Hydrated
Drinking plenty of water can help dilute your urine, decreasing your body’s uric acid level and eliminating toxins from your body. Increasing your water intake increases your urine output. The more urine output is increased, the more uric acid will be flushed out of your body through urination.
- Drink at least 10 or more glasses of water daily.
9. Keep Your Weight Down
According to a research, people who are overweight or obese are at greater risk for developing hyperuricemia. Losing weight can help lower your uric acid levels. Talk with your doctor about constructing a healthy weight-loss plan that involves limiting foods high in purine.
10. Drink Coffee
Drinking coffee has been shown to decrease uric acid in your blood. Try to include a cup or two of coffee per day to help lower your uric acid levels.
Medical Solutions to Lower Uric Acid Levels
If hyperuricemia is affecting your quality of life and conventional ways of treating it aren’t working, talk with your doctor about a medication plan that will be healthy for your body.
Uricosuric drugs block the reabsorption of urate, thus preventing formation of uric acid crystals in the tissues and increasing the excretion of uric acid from the body.
- This drug type includes Probenecid and Sulfinpyrazone.
- The starting dose for Probenecid is 250 mg two times a day, and can be increased to a maximum dosage of 3 grams daily.
Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitors
Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors decrease the solubility of uric acid, which allows the body to eliminate uric acid more efficiently.
- While taking this type of drug, you must maintain adequate hydration in order to sustain high urine output.
- The dosage of this medication varies, and it is best to talk with your doctor for an appropriate prescription.
Xanthine Oxidase Inhibitors
Xanthine oxidase inhibitors decrease your uric acid production by inhibiting the production of xanthine oxidase, an enzyme responsible for the production of purine.
- This class of drugs includes Allopurinol.
- A maintenance dose for adults is 200 to 300 mg per day.
- The use of Allopurinol can result in fatal hypersensitivity, so take it only under the direct supervision of a medical professional.
- This drug acts by increasing the elimination of uric acid through your urine.
- The usual dose is 20 mg once a day but this may be adjusted depending on your condition.
When to See Your Doctor
If you have had gout or uric acid-containing kidney stones or if you have a family history, make sure that you see your physician regularly. Don’t wait to see your doctor until these conditions begin causing serious problems — seeing your physician early can help prevent many issues and can hep you make good choices for your self-care. You can safely make dietary changes on your own, but it is always best to keep your physician informed of your self-care approaches.