Foods That Increase Uric Acid

Uric acid is a byproduct created when the body digests foods containing purines. Purine is a non-essential amino acid—meaning it can be produced by the body and it can also be consumed in foods.

Managing uric acid levels is an important topic for individuals who have risk factors for gout because high uric acid levels increase the likelihood of developing gout. Here, we look at the relationship between the purines in your diet, uric acid, and gout.

Beef, a high uric acid food

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Uric Acid, Purines, and Gout

Gout is a common chronic condition affecting the joints. It is caused by a build-up of uric acid in the bloodstream that forms urate crystals that are deposited into the joints, which causes inflammation, swelling, and severe pain.

The body filters out uric acid through the kidneys and it is excreted through urine. The amount of uric acid in your body can become too high if you eat a diet high in purines, the body produces too much, or if your body isn’t able to excrete it quick enough.

Risk Factors for Developing Gout

  • Diet: Your diet can raise the levels of uric acid in your blood and increase your risk for developing gout, so a diet high in purines, fructose, and alcohol increase your risk of gout. Fructose is the sugar found in fruit and studies have found that products sweetened with fructose increase the risk for gout.
  • Obesity: Research has found an increased prevalence of gout among people who are obese and overweight than individuals who fell within a normal body weight, independent of sex or race.
  • Gender: Gout is more likely to affect men because women tend to have lower levels of uric acid. After menopause, the uric acid levels rise for women to be more similar to men, and their risk for gout increases.
  • Medical conditions: Some health conditions are associated with an increased risk for gout, such as kidney disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and high blood pressure.
  • Family history: There is a hereditary trend with gout, meaning you are more likely to develop gout if other members of your family have been diagnosed with it.
  • Age: Men usually develop gout between the ages of 30 to 50 and women have a higher risk for gout after menopause.

The most common cause for gout is when the body’s ability to excrete uric acid is impaired leading to the build of uric acid. Removal of uric acid can be slowed by hereditary factors, metabolic disease, kidney disease, and other conditions affecting the health of the kidneys.

Research studies have looked at the relationship between diet and uric acid secretion.

One study found that the pH of urine could be lowered by a diet rich in plant foods, which lead to increased secretion of uric acid in urine when compared to the group consuming more of an acidic diet with increased protein foods and less plant-based foods. They concluded that diet can be used to increase uric acid removal from the body, in addition to using the diet to limit intake purines that increase uric acid levels.

Studies have also found a relationship between vitamin C and gout. Foods rich in vitamin C—citrus fruit, peppers, strawberries, and broccoli—or taking a vitamin C supplement helps to increase the amount of uric acid excreted by the kidneys.

Should You Avoid Purine Rich Foods?

Limiting intake of purine-rich foods can help to reduce gout flares because when there is less purine in your diet, uric acid levels typically decrease as well. Diet alone can’t prevent gout flares because there are multiple factors affecting gout. Other factors affecting gout include:

  • Purine production
  • Diuretics
  • Under excretion of uric acid
  • Alcohol
  • Reabsorption of uric acid

The type of food also makes a difference in whether it increases the risk of gout flares. Processed foods, animal products, and seafood high in purines have been associated with increased uric acid levels and more frequent gout flares. Plant-based foods that are high-moderate in purines are less likely to cause high levels of uric acid and are more recommended for individuals with gout.

For some, making diet changes can help to reduce the risk of developing gout and the occurrence of gout flares. Pay attention to how these different foods affect you because everyone has different limits and different foods that trigger flares.

High-Purine Foods

Foods that are high in purines should be avoided or ate sparingly with gout.

  • Alcohol: All types
  • Red meat: Beef, pork, and lamb
  • Seafood and shellfish: Shrimp, mussels, anchovies, sardines, and lobster
  • Organ meats: Liver, kidney, heart, etc

Venison and meat gravies should also be avoided.

Moderate-Purine Foods

These foods should be limited but can be consumed in moderation with gout.

  • Oatmeal
  • Wheat bran
  • Mushrooms
  • Green peas
  • Spinach
  • Asparagus
  • Cauliflower
  • Kidney beans
  • Dried peas
  • Beans
  • Lentils

Low-Purine Foods

Foods low in purine are safe for a gout diet and can be consumed more liberally than the high-moderate purine foods.

  • Rice
  • Barley
  • Pasta
  • Vegetables (besides mushrooms, green peas, spinach, asparagus, and cauliflower)
  • All fruits
  • Avocado
  • Low fat dairy
  • Eggs
  • Tofu

A Word From Verywell

Because many factors contribute to the amount of uric acid in the blood, diet alone may not be enough to prevent gout or decrease the number of gout flares.

Your diet shouldn’t be discounted though because it can help with managing more than just the number of purines in your diet. It can help with controlling conditions that affect the overall health of your kidneys, such as your blood pressure, diabetes, and weight.

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Article Sources
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