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Uric acid is something most of us don’t think about when we’re well and healthy. But elevated uric acid levels can lead to painful conditions such as gout, and if left unchecked, may result in kidney or heart damage. Addressing potential uric acid anomalies now can help you make more informed self-care choices in the future.
So let’s jump into how high uric acid occurs and what you can do about it to get relief.
What Is Uric Acid?
Uric acid is a metabolite produced when our bodies break down substances called purines, which occur naturally in many foods. Uric acid remains dissolved in the blood until it is filtered through the kidneys. Most uric acid is typically expelled in urine.
Uric Acid Crystals
When uric acid levels become elevated (a condition called hyperuricemia), it becomes more difficult for the metabolite to remain fully dissolved in the blood. As a result, uric acid crystals precipitate out of the bloodstream and gather in places such as the joints and kidneys causing significant inflammation and pain.
High Uric Acid Symptoms and Health Risks
If untreated, high uric acid levels may eventually lead to permanent bone, joint, and tissue damage, kidney disease, and heart disease.
Symptoms of elevated uric acid levels can vary widely, and not everyone with high uric acid experiences symptoms. Recent statistics estimate that 3.9% of U.S. adults experience some symptoms of increased uric acid levels, while 21% of U.S. adults have elevated uric acid levels but remain asymptomatic.
The most common symptom is gout, a painful condition that occurs when uric acid crystals collect in a joint, most often the big toe. The crystals trigger an inflammatory response, during which the affected joint swells (often profoundly) and takes on a shiny appearance. Sensitivity to touch increases, often producing intense pain at even the weight of a bedsheet.
Episodes of gout can be rapid in onset and typically reach their peak within 12 to 24 hours. An episode of gout can severely limit mobility and may take between 7 and 14 days to fully resolve.
Chronically elevated uric acid levels can also affect the kidney, resulting in a condition called nephrolithiasis, where uric acid crystals form within the kidney tissue. Symptoms of nephrolithiasis include nausea and vomiting, blood in the urine, and pain in the flank or lower back.
Formation of kidney stones is another potential problem. Most kidney stones, though painful, will pass on their own with proper hydration. In acute cases, however, surgical intervention to remove the stone may be necessary.
Several large-scale studies have shown an association between elevated uric acid levels and increased risk for type 2 diabetes. Debate in the medical community continues regarding whether uric acid levels increase risk for diabetes, or whether increased insulin resistance spurs higher uric acid levels.
Normal Uric Acid Levels
Normal uric acid levels typically fall between 3.5 and 7.2 mg/dL, with some variation by gender (men, 4.0 to 8.5 mg/dL; women, 2.7 to 7.3 mg/dL). Levels greater than 7.0 mg/dL is considered high. To determine whether your uric acid levels fall within normal parameters, a blood test is needed. Remember, though, not everyone with high uric acid levels is symptomatic.
There are also many accurate at home tests available to check your uric acid levels.
Uric Acid Foods to Avoid
You’ll recall that uric acid is a metabolite produced when our bodies break down naturally occurring chemicals called purines. Avoiding foods known to be high in purines can help control high uric acid levels and reduce the risk for episodes of gout.
Avoid these purine-rich foods:
- Beer (including non-alcoholic beer)
- Shellfish (including lobster, shrimp, scallops, mussels)
- Small smoked fish (including anchovies, sardines, herring)
- Organ meats (including liver, kidney, stomach)
- Legumes (including beans, peas, lentils)
How to Lower Your Uric Acid Levels
If you’re symptomatic, or if you’re asymptomatic but had a uric acid test showing elevated values, don’t panic. There are some simple steps you can put into action today to help control your uric acid levels.
- Avoid purine-rich foods (see list above)
- Limit sugary sweets (breakdown of glucose releases purines)
- Avoid over-processed foods (including boxed, canned, frozen foods)
- Eat more whole foods
- Substitute water, flavored seltzer, or herbal tea for sweetened beverages
- Stay hydrated (this will help your kidneys filter out uric acid)
- Boost your fiber intake (with foods like broccoli, brown rice, quinoa, and apples)
Also remember to check any prescription or over-the-counter medications you take regularly, as some of these may increase uric acid levels. Here is a short list of medications that are known to increase uric acid: aspirin, diuretics, immunosuppressive drugs like cyclosporine, beta-blockers, levodopa, or pyrazinamide.
Herbal Support To Naturally Lower Your Uric Acid Levels
Many have heard of the benefits of tart cherries to lower uric acid levels, but few know how they work. Tart cherries naturally interrupt the production of uric acid from purines resulting in lower uric acid levels in the body. The master herbalist for Redd Remedies found that adding a bioflavonoid called quercetin to tart cherries resulted in even better performance from this combination in lowering uric acid production.
But do not stop there. It is the kidneys that are responsible for uric acid regulation and they need to be attended to. Use kidney nourishing herbs Boerhavia root and couch grass root to support your kidney’s ability to eliminate excess uric acid efficiently. Both of these herbs are safe for long term use if needed and are historically used as a kidney tonic in traditional herbal medicine.
Lastly, you will see faster improvement by adding ginger root to decrease inflammation and increase circulation which will aid in the elimination of excess uric acid.
All of these botanicals can be found in Redd Remedies award-winning product Gouch! Gouch is the creation of Master Herbalist Stacey Littlefield and is a revolutionary blend of herbs and antioxidants formulated to fight the torment of excess uric acid.
Gouch is gluten-free, vegan, manufactured in the USA using herbs from around the globe, and independently 3rd-party-tested to insure purity.
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