Gout is a type of arthritis that develops when blood uric acid levels are atypically high. The uric acid forms crystals in the joints, often in the feet and big toes, which causes severe and painful swelling.
Some people need medication to treat gout, but diet and lifestyle changes may also help. Lowering uric acid can reduce the risk of the condition and may even prevent flares.
However, the risk of gout depends on several factors, not just lifestyle. Risk factors include having obesity, being male, and having certain health conditions.
This article reviews natural ways to help lower uric acid levels.
Purines are compounds that occur naturally in some foods. As the body breaks down purines, it produces uric acid. The process of metabolizing purine-rich foods causes the production of too much uric acid, which may lead to gout.
Some otherwise nutritious foods contain a high amount of purines, which means a person may wish to reduce their intake instead of eliminating them all.
Foods with high purine content include:
- wild game, such as deer (venison)
- trout, tuna, haddock, sardines, anchovies, mussels, and herring
- excess alcohol, including beer and liquor
- high fat foods, such as bacon, dairy products, and red meat, including veal
- organ meats, such as liver and sweetbreads
- sugary foods and beverages
Foods with moderate purine content include:
- deli meats
- most other meat, including ham and beef
- oyster, shrimp, crab, and lobster
While some foods have a high purine level, others have a lower level. A person may include them in their diet to help lower their uric acid levels. Some foods with low purine content include:
- low fat and fat-free dairy products
- peanut butter and most nuts
- most fruits and vegetables
- whole-grain rice, bread, and potatoes
While dietary changes alone will not eliminate gout, they may help prevent flare-ups. It is also important to note that not everyone who gets gout eats a high purine diet.
Certain medications may elevate uric acid levels. These include:
- diuretic drugs, such as furosemide (Lasix) and hydrochlorothiazide
- drugs that suppress the immune system, especially before or after an organ transplant
- low dose aspirin
Drugs that raise uric acid levels may offer essential health benefits, but people should speak with a doctor before stopping or changing any medications.
Experts recommend that people focus on making long-term, sustainable changes to manage their weight, such as becoming more active, eating a balanced diet, and choosing nutrient-dense foods. Maintaining a moderate weight can help lower blood uric acid levels and improve overall health.
Consuming a lot of alcohol and sugary drinks — such as sodas and sweetened juices — correlates with an increased risk of developing gout.
Researchers have studied cherries and their effects on gout for several years. According to a
Certain supplements may help with lowering blood uric acid levels. Some potentially beneficial supplements include:
Before adding supplements to their diet, a person should consult a doctor. They can make sure supplements will not interfere with their current medications.
People with gout have an increased risk of diabetes. According to the Arthritis Foundation, females with gout are 71% more likely to have type 2 diabetes than people without gout, while males are 22% more likely.
Diabetes and gout have common risk factors, such as being overweight and having high cholesterol.
A doctor will consider a person’s uric acid levels before prescribing insulin.
A high fiber diet
Gout is a painful medical condition that often occurs alongside other serious conditions. While a healthy lifestyle may lower the risk of subsequent flares, it may not be enough to treat the disease.
Even people with balanced diets still get the condition, and not everyone who eats high purine diets develops gout symptoms.
Medication can help reduce pain and may prevent the risk of future gout flares. People can speak with a doctor about their symptoms and ask for advice on which lifestyle changes might benefit them.