Debunking the myths of Uric Acid – Hero or Villain
Uric acid is widely believed to be the reason for gout attack. Excruciating pain is what follows. Uric acid is popularly discussed among health forums and tagged as the bad thing. So let us understand uric acid, gout and how to stop future gout attacks. But first let us begin by debunking some myths and establishing some truths.
To avoid a gout attack we have been told to reduce uric acid levels in the body. To achieve this we have to make our body more alkaline and avoid consuming red meat and sea food. You need to have a low fat diet and avoid purine rich foods. That list consists of sea food, red meat, organs meat, wild game such as duck, cauliflower, mushrooms and beans. People also commonly and strongly recommend to avoid beer and spinach.
- Eating purine rich food will lead to greater risk of gout attack – NOT TRUE – Even if your diet is purine rich food, the amount of uric acid generated from food is far less that what is generated by your own body. Any time in your body hundreds of cells are dying and new cells are being created. For example bone marrow produces 20 lakhs Red Blood Cells every second! All these dying cells have to be recycled by the body. Each of the dead cell is converted to an endogenous purine. Digesting purine rich food releases exogenous purines in the blood. Both endogenous and exogenous purines combine to form uric acid.
- Anyone who has high uric acid will get a gout attack – NOT TRUE – Not all people who have high uric acid suffer from gout attacks. Uric acid crystals are found at almost every joint in the body. But it is only under certain conditions that you will experience a gout attack. It may takes years for the first gout attack to occur.
- Body uses uric acid as an Anti-oxidant – TRUE – Uric acid is a cleansing mechanism of the body to get rid of dead tissues. How do cells die more often? When they do not get adequate oxygenated blood. Excessive sugar in the blood leads to bunching up of RBCs. These bunches are not able to enter the tiny capillaries which restricts the supply of oxygenated blood to the tissues. This causes an increase number of dead cells in the body, specially towards the extremities.
- Over 90% of the uric acid itself is recycles – TRUE – Kidneys reabsorb uric acid which it would not have done had uric acid been toxic.
So what actually causes gout attack
Now that we are aware of the truths and myths let us summarise what we have understood till now. Endogenous purines are produced within the body and exogenous purines come in from the food. Body produces far more purines but both have to be combined to produce uric acid. Kidneys filter out uric acid but they also recycle most of the uric acid back into the blood. Uric acid is an antioxidant which is responsible to flush dead cells and tissues from our body.
Armed with this information, let us prepare an action plan to counter gout attacks and reduce their intensity in the future.
But first, is it workable. YES. Do you need to take pills? NO. Gout attack can be countered just by eating the right food and not by avoiding certain foods.
The action plan
- Inflammation is the main cause of gout attack. So while your uric acid levels are high, till the joint does not suffer from inflammation, those gout crystals will not wreak havoc. If you need medication, it should be inflammatory medicine and not pain killers.
- Elevated insulin levels or insulin resistance will increase the risk of gout attack. A carb rich diet will lead to a non alcoholic fatty liver condition. Body starts storing visceral fat too. Excess of insulin and blood glucose is the main cause of inflammation. Carbohydrates can also disrupt hormonal balance.
- Fructose is processed by the liver. Packed fruit juices, sodas, soft drinks and all such drinks which spike glucose and sugars leading increase risk of gout attack.
- Sugars and grains gets digested and release glucose in the blood stream.
- Fruits contain mainly fructose, so excessive consumption of fruits, especially the sweeter variety will increase the risk of gout attack.
- Obesity also increases the risk of gout attack.
- Refined oils, chemicals and foods rich in omega – 6 fatty acids also increase the risk of gout attack.
- Lastly alcohol is one of the main causes of gout attack. If you are in any form of risk, you need to stop consumption of alcohol altogether.
A diet rich in vegetables and other healthy food like animal protein and fats should provide the body with sufficient nutrition to regulate body functions and restore hormonal balance.
Intermittent fasting will help regulate blood glucose and also increase insulin sensitivity. It is also a sure shot way to reduce weight.
Once your bio markers like blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, etc are regulated, uric acid regulation happens on its own.