What is uric acid?
Uric acid is produced when your body breaks down chemicals called purines. Uric acid is meant to be a waste product: It dissolves in your bloodstream, flows through your kidneys, and leaves your body in your urine.RELATEDWhat is gout? How to know if you have it and recommended treatment
However, if the uric acid in your blood isn’t filtered out efficiently and reaches a high level, called hyperuricemia, it can cause crystals to form. If these crystals settle in your joints, it could lead to gout, a type of arthritis.
You may have an increased risk for high uric acid levels if you have:
- Been undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer
Your uric acid level can be measured with a blood test. For women, it should be under 6 milligrams per deciliter of blood. For males, it should be under 7 mg/dL. If your uric acid levels are too high, here are some of the best ways to lower them naturally:
1. Eat foods with less purines
Purines are chemicals that are naturally produced by your body and are also found in certain foods. Animal purines from meat and seafood can especially affect your uric acid level.
The following foods contain high amounts of purine, so those seeking to lower their uric acid level should avoid or limit eating them:
- Organ meat like liver or kidneys
- Shellfish and oily fish such as anchovies and tuna
- Some vegetables, including asparagus, mushrooms, and spinach
On the other hand, the following foods contain low amounts of purine, so eating them won’t increase your uric acid level:
- Nuts and peanut butter
- Low-fat or nonfat dairy products including cheese, milk, and yogurt
- Cherries and other fruits
Following a healthy diet can also help lower your uric acid levels.
2. Get more vitamin C
Researchers have found that vitamin C may help lower your uric acid levels. Arthritis & Rheumatism took 500-mg vitamin C supplements daily for two months had significantly lower uric acid levels —
For people who already have gout, however, the same may not be true. Arthritis & Rheumatism found that participants with gout who took 500 mg of vitamin C daily for eight weeks did not significantly lower their uric acid levels.RELATED4 ways to prevent kidney stones
In addition, if you have had kidney stones, you should talk to your doctor about your vitamin C intake, as it may increase your risk of stone formation.
3. Limit sugary drinks
Sugary drinks appears to raise your uric acid level
Sugar increases the purines in your blood, which results in the production of more uric acid.
Soft drinks that contain sugar or high-fructose corn syrup were also linked to increased uric acid levels. When your body breaks down the fructose, a natural sugar in these drinks, it produces purines, which then produce uric acid.
To help lower your uric acid level, you should stay away from these drinks:
- Soft drinks with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup
- Juices with high-fructose corn syrup
4. Drink coffee
Coffee contains an antioxidant called chlorogenic acid that can lower your uric acid levels and may even prevent gout. Drank four to five cups of coffee a day had a 40% lower relative risk of gout when compared with men who didn’t drink coffee.
Drinking up to about four cups of brewed coffee each day appears to be safe for healthy adults, But drinking more could lead to caffeine-related side effects like headaches, insomnia, and nervousness.
5. Try to lose weight
In addition to avoiding certain foods and drinks, losing weight can also lower your uric acid level. Being overweight or obese makes your kidneys less efficient at eliminating uric acid through your urine. The risk of getting gout is 10 times as high for people who are obese as it is for people who are at a healthy weight.
6. Don’t take certain medications
Some medications may raise your uric acid level because they cause you to produce less urine. These medications, available with a prescription, include the following:
- Diuretics, also called water pills, such as Demadex (torsemide), Microzide (hydrochlorothiazide), and Thalitone (chlorthalidone)
- Antituberculosis antibiotics such as Rifater (pyrazinamide) and Myambutol (ethambutol)
- Immunosuppressant drugs such as Gengraf (cyclosporine)
Low-dose aspirin may also raise the level because it can interfere with your kidneys’ ability to excrete uric acid.