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Uric acid is a waste substance excreted by the kidneys. Hyperuricemia is the medical term for elevated uric acid. This imbalance results when the body metabolizes purines, as well as when purine-sensitive individuals overconsume it, usually overweight older men. Too much uric acid can cause the formation of crystals that may lodge in the joints and cause painful gout symptoms, often beginning in the big toe. Over time, tissue damage and joint deformity may result.
Bacon, because of the way it is processed, has very high amounts of purine. People with hyperuricemia should not consume it. Good substitutes, including vegetarian breakfast strips, can be found in most supermarkets. All pork and beef products, or red meats, should be avoided. Organ meats such as liver and sweetbreads, are particularly high in purines, as are game meats and gravy. Poultry contains lower amounts than pork and beef and is a great substitute in small portions. Some seafood may also be eaten sparingly, but avoid sardines, anchovies, mackeral, herrings, mussels and scallops.
Other Foods to Avoid
Foods containing yeast (bread and other baked goods, and alcoholic beverages) contain high amounts of purines and will elevate uric acid levels. Moderate amounts of purines are found in certain vegetables too, including, asparagus, cauliflower, spinach, mushrooms, peas, lentils, beans and oatmeal, which should be eaten sparingly. Strawberries, tomatoes and tomato products, durian and rhubarb should be avoided.
The combination of alcohol consumption and a diet heavy in high protein-rich foods is a recipe for gout and other problems. Alcohol interferes with uric acid's elimination through the kidneys, in addition to increasing its production. It should be strictly avoided, including beer, which is made with high-purine substances such as yeast.
Processed Foods, Smoking and Weight Loss
Drinking sugary soft drinks increases the risk for hyperuricemia. Avoid foods that contain sucrose or high fructose corn syrup, as these have been found to increase uric acid in the blood. Smoking is a risk factor as well. Crash dieting can also cause the liver to create higher amounts of uric acid. Since obesity is associated with the onset of gout, losing weight lowers uric acid levels. Weight loss should be accomplished, however, with a responsible diet and exercise plan.
The kidneys should be assisted to excrete excess uric acid from the body by drinking plenty of water. Eight to ten glasses a day is recommended. Natural anti-inflammatory substances in some foods can alleviate the pain and swelling of gout. Regular intake of cherries or black cherry juice has shown promise in recent studies. Folic acid (a vitamin found in dark green leafy vegetables), bromelain, celery seed extract and omega-3 fatty acids (found in flax and chia seeds as well as in fish oils) have been used as well by gout sufferers with good results.