6 ways to lower uric acid levels naturally
- To lower uric acid levels, you can eat less purines in your diet, get more vitamin C, limit alcohol and sugary drinks, drink more coffee, and try to maintain a healthy weight.
- If you're taking certain medications for other
healthconditions, stopping them may also help lower your uric acid levels.
- It's important to lower uric acid levels to reduce your risk of gout and some types of kidney stones.
- This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Jennifer Linehan, a urologist who is an associate professor of urologic oncology at the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John's Health Center.
Here's what you need to know about uric acid and how to lower your levels if they are too high.
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.
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. About 20% of people with hyperuricemia develop gout.
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.
"Most people eat more [purines] than they think," says Dr. Monya De, an internist in Los Angeles.
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. For example, a 2016 study published in the American College of Rheumatology journal Arthritis & Rheumatology found that following the DASH diet for 30 days helped people with prehypertension and hypertension lower their uric acid level by as much as 1.3 mg/dL.
2. Get more vitamin C
Researchers have found that vitamin C may help lower your uric acid levels. In a 2005 study published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, participants who took 500-mg vitamin C supplements daily for two months had significantly lower uric acid levels — an average drop of 0.5 mg/dL — than participants who took placebos.
For people who already have gout, however, the same may not be true. A 2013 study published in 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.
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 alcohol and sugary drinks
Drinking beer and liquor appears to raise your uric acid level, according to the Third US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey published in Arthritis Care & Research.
Alcohol increases the purines in your blood, which results in the production of more uric acid. Beer contains the most purines, while wine has the fewest.
"The dehydration from alcohol can be a reason for high levels, plus alcohol independently stops the body from urinating away uric acid due to an interaction with higher lactic acid levels," De says.
Soft drinks that contain sugar or high-fructose corn syrup were also linked to increased uric acid levels, according to results from the same survey. 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.
For example, men in a 2007 study who said they 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, the Mayo Clinic reports. 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.
A 2017 study published in Oncotarget of 4,678 people in China with high uric acid levels found that those who lost more than 22 pounds over two years had "significantly" lower uric acid levels. This was especially true for obese middle-age men.
For overweight and obese people who have gout, a 2017 review of 907 patients from 10 studies found that those who lost from 6 to 75 pounds lowered their uric acid level by about 0.3 to 1.9 mg/dL.
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.
It's important to let your doctor know if you're taking any of these medications. "A good physician will look at the patient's medication list and swap out ones that potentially make the problem worse," De says.
Research has found that watching what you eat and maintaining a healthy weight can help lower your uric acid level. For some people, however, that may not be enough, and you will also need to take medications that can effectively reduce uric acid levels. If you have gout, your doctor may prescribe medications that dissolve uric acid crystals.
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