High Uric Acid used to be called “The King’s Disease” when pampered royalty would binge on fine wines and thick cuts of red meat only to wake up the following day with sharp pains in their feet. Imagine the hysteria of a medieval kingdom witnessing their king bedridden with a disease they had no idea how to cure! This anecdote does serve a purpose; it’s to remind us that High Uric Acid is caused by a combination of certain foods, beverages, and – to a lesser degree – age.
Fortunately, today we know exactly what causes High Uric Acid, how to get rid of it, and the best way to keep it from coming back. So let’s start with the simplest explanation of how High Uric Acid works:
Unnaturally high levels of uric acid cause irritation and joint discomfort (uric acid is perfectly natural), and uric acid is produced when your body breaks down a natural substance called ‘purine’. Purines are found in all types of food, but only certain foods contain a super-concentrated amount of them. When your body can’t get rid of the excess uric acid through urine, uric acid particles collect together and crystallize like microscopic glass particles in your blood stream.
There’s no need to get more scientific than that. And already we can see two important ways to stay High Uric Acid free:
- Consume foods with low purine content.
- Help flush out the uric acid.
The best thing you can do for step two is drink lots of water. If you’re suffering from High Uric Acid, you’ll have to drink more water than the average person, so instead of the old ‘eight cups of water a day’ you’ll want to drink twelve or more. That means more trips to the bathroom, but that’s a minor inconvenience compared to the pain and debilitation of High Uric Acid itself.
Food and Drinks to Avoid
Alcohol: Beer, Wine, and Spirits. STOP Do not Pass Go, Do not collect $200
All forms of alcohol are terrible for High Uric Acid because they prevent the kidneys from flushing it out, but beer is actually the worst because it also contains a ton of purines. Here’s what the Lancet Medical Journal discovered:
“Men who drank the most alcohol daily had twice the risk of developing the disorder as men who did not drink. Beer drinkers increased their risk by 50% for every daily serving, while those who drank hard liquor increased their risk by 15% for each drink. Men who drank wine did not appear to increase their risk for high Uric Acid, although few men had more than two glasses of wine daily so these results are less conclusive.”
Avoiding alcohol altogether is your best bet, but if you must indulge, wine has the lowest purine content and smallest association with uric acid.
They might be hard to avoid if you have a sweet tooth, but they’re doing your High Uric Acid no favors. The high sugar content is hard on the kidneys, and with High Uric Acid, you need your kidneys as healthy as possible (remember: water, drink lots and lots). Sugar also spikes your insulin levels, and when insulin levels are high, uric acid levels tend to be high, too.
Here’s what a WebMD study of 755 High Uric Acid sufferers found:
“Compared with men who almost never drank sugar-sweetened soft drinks — fewer than one per month — frequent soft-drink drinkers were significantly more likely to suffer a flare up:
- Two or more soft drinks each day upped high Uric Acid risk by 85%.
- One soft drink each day upped high Uric Acid risk by 45%.
- Five or six soft drinks each week upped high Uric Acid risk by 29%.”
Certain Meats and Seafood
The following foods have high purine content and should be avoided if possible.
- Meats: Bacon, Turkey, Veal, Venison, Liver, Kidney, Beef, Chicken, Duck, Pork and Ham.
- Seafood: Anchovies, Sardines, Herring, Mussels, Cod, Scallops, Trout, Haddock, Crab, Lobster, Oysters, and Shrimp.
Foods and Drinks to Add
- Vegetables: The nutrients and compounds in vegetables help offset the purine content in meats. These include sweet potatoes, carrots, ginger, and red cabbage.
- Dairy products: Without meats, High Uric Acid sufferers need to find other ways to get protein, and dairy products are a great place to start. Studies have shown that those with more dairy in their diet had lower uric acid levels, and low-fat dairy products may even help flush out excess uric acid.
- Coffee: A 2007 study of nearly 46,000 men showed that those who drank four or five cups a day had a 40% lower risk of High Uric Acid compared to those who didn’t drink coffee. This effect is likely due to coffee’s antioxidants that help reduce the levels of insulin, which in turn reduces levels of uric acid.
- Water: It’s worth mentioning a third time. You need water to help flush out uric acid, and a study in 2009 showed that those who drank five to eight glasses of water had a 40% reduced risk of High Uric Acid than those who only drank one.
- Tart Cherries: Perhaps the best food for High Uric Acid, tart cherries help reduce inflammation and normalize uric acid levels. In a 2003 study, participants ate cherries and noticed a 14% decrease in uric acid levels after just five hours. Unfortunately, the study required participants eat about 45 cherries, so it seems to be a ‘more cherries the better’ kind of thing. If eating 45 cherries doesn’t sound realistic to you (it probably doesn’t) there are cherry extracts and supplements that’ll save you the trouble.