Uric acid is a chemical compound produced within the body by the breakdown of substances called purines. Purines are found in all cells in the human body and in almost all foods. Red meat, fish, beans, peas, beer and alcohol are high in purines. Chicken, seafood, lentils, spinach and cauliflower are moderate sources of purines.
Our body needs a regular supply of uric acid as it helps protect blood vessels from oxidative damage. It dissolves in the bloodstream and gets carried to the kidneys, which eliminate excess uric acid from the body by the means of urine.
Excessive uric acid in the blood is medically termed as Hyperuricemia. It can also be the consequence of reduced kidney function or reduced urine production. The other related condition is Hypouricemia, which means lower than normal uric acid level in the body.
In this article, we have discussed Hyperuricemia in detail.
Symptoms and diagnosis
High uric acid level in the bloodstream can result from Gout, which is a type of arthritis in which excess uric acid in the bloodstream gets deposited in the joints, resulting in inflammation and acute joint pain. The skin around the joints may begin to peel as well. Kidney stones, and in acute or undetected cases, kidney failure can occur due to high uric acid levels.
Studies have linked elevated uric acid levels with an increased risk of type2 diabetes, obesity and hypertension. More severe outcomes can be kidney failure, characterized by reduced urination, breathlessness, fatigue and swelling in limbs.
A simple blood test is used to determine uric acid levels. This test is performed on a condition of not having consumed anything for 4 hours before the test. The normal range of uric acid in blood is 3.5-7.2 mg/dl in men and 2.4-6.1 mg/dl for women.
Causes of high uric acid
Some possible causes for elevated uric acid level in the blood:
- Hereditary factors may be responsible for this condition.
- Dietary factors may also be responsible for it. Intake of high purine foods like meat, peas, beans and mushrooms can be a possible cause. Alcoholism, underactive thyroid and obesity may be other contributory factors.
- It might be caused due to reduced excretion of uric acid by the kidneys.
- There may be a temporary rise in uric acid due to rapid weight loss and fasting.
- Some diuretic medications (medicines that promote urine production) can also cause this condition.
Managing elevated uric acid levels naturally
A wise combination of a few home remedies and some basic lifestyle changes can be of great help in managing increased uric acid levels naturally.
- Citric acid found in lime juice is an effective remedy for increased uric acid level. A glass of water with juice of half a lemon taken twice a day can be helpful.
- Malic acid present in apple juice is helpful in neutralizing uric acid. Similarly, 3 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar mixed in a glass of water twice daily can be an effective home remedy.
- 15-20 cherries, consumed daily, is another home remedy for high uric acid on account for anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Foods rich in vitamin C like tomatoes, oranges, guava and kiwi are also beneficial.
- Beetroot juice or salad can also help lower uric acid level in the blood. Celery seed extract is another home remedy for high uric acid.
- A cupful of yogurt (low fat) taken first thing every morning on empty stomach is also useful to alleviate this condition.
- Abstain from alcohol, coffee and sweetened drinks as they are sources of purine which is responsible for formation of uric acid.
- Other sources of purine include red meat, seafood and poultry, while the plant sources include mushrooms, cauliflower, peas, spinach, pulses and beans. Avoid consuming high purine foods as much as possible.
- Avoid sugar rich foods and bakery products like cakes, cookies, pastries and white bread. Instead have more of complex carbohydrates and fiber rich foods like whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables. Fiber in foods like oats, psyllium husk (isabgol) and broccoli helps in absorption of uric acid from the bloodstream and elimination by the kidneys.
- Increase the intake of potassium rich diet like cherries, bananas, pineapples, sweet potatoes and papayas as they help lower the uric acid level in blood. You can also have low fat dairy products.
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, about 8-16 glasses of which should be aimed as daily intake as it helps flush out uric acid as well as toxins from the system.
In addition to these tips, one needs to achieve an optimal weight as obesity is closely linked to elevated uric acid level, besides a host of other ailments. A healthy fat-free diet coupled with physical exercise can help us manage this problem and many others the natural way.