A low-purine diet is often referred to as a “gout diet,” since it is most commonly used to manage conditions related to high uric acid levels, like gout or kidney stones. Purine is a chemical that occurs naturally in the body but is also found in foods like fish, fatty organ meats, alcohol, and some grains and beans. There are also vegetables that contain purine, but they typically are not causes for gout or kidney stone attacks. There are many benefits to reducing the amount of purine in your diet, and you should talk with your physician to determine whether this diet is the right plan for you.
Decreases Gout Symptoms
Gout attacks are painful and often debilitating, interfering with everyday activities when they occur. Switching to a low-purine diet means fewer purines in your system. Since purines are converted into uric acid, and excess uric acid causes gout attacks, this is a good step to take to reduce your gout symptoms. Instead of choosing high-purine foods like trout, sardines, or liver, stick to low-purine options like salmon or chicken breast. Making these substitutions will allow you to decrease your risk of a gout attack since your body will not need to process additional purines as part of your diet.
Inhibits Kidney Stone Development
Anyone who has ever developed kidney stones can attest to the fact that they are a painful condition, and most people would prefer not to develop them again. Unfortunately, consuming too many purines can lead to the development of kidney stones, which are formed with uric acid crystallizes and becomes hardened. If you want to avoid the pain and discomfort of kidney stones, a low-purine diet may be a good choice for you. Of course, adopting this diet doesn’t mean your chances of developing kidney stones will disappear completely, but avoiding high-purine foods can help to decrease your risk.
Reduces Need for Medications
Most researchers will agree that adopting a low-purine diet is not impactful enough to eliminate the need for medication. However, it can help to reduce the amount of prescription and over-the-counter medicine that you take. Patients with gout, for example, will likely still need to take prescribed pills to treat their condition, but attacks will be less frequent and less intense if that medication is accompanied by diet changes as well. A low-purine diet can also help to reduce the number of painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications that are taken regularly. This is very beneficial since those treatments often come with their own side effects and risks.
Slows Joint Damage
Although a low-purine diet will not permanently stop joint damage, it can reduce inflammation and slow down the rate of long-term damage. Because gout is a form of arthritis, it permanently damages the joints over time. This means that gout attacks typically get worse in intensity and occur more frequently as you age. Switching to a low-purine diet can’t prevent this, but research has shown that patients who change their diet in addition to taking prescribed medication often see this deterioration slow down significantly. Since there are no real risks to a low-purine diet, it is an ideal step to take to preserve your future health.
Aids Weight Loss
One of the side effects of adopting a low-purine diet is usually weight loss. Many foods high in purines are also foods that contain a lot of fat. While low-purine foods are more likely to be healthier options. Consequently, eliminating these choices from your diet can help to jumpstart weight loss, even if that isn’t your goal. Since gout is typically exacerbated by obesity, losing weight can be a very beneficial way to reduce symptoms and decrease the frequency of attacks. Having a normal weight also comes with plenty of other benefits. Including higher energy levels, improved mood, and a decreased risk of developing other chronic diseases.
One of the most important parts of a low-purine diet is drinking plenty of water every day. Water is very important to a healthy lifestyle, so this has a lot of additional benefits. The reason water consumption is important to a low-purine diet is that it acts as an agent for uric acid to pass through the body via urine. When patients don’t consume enough water, they increase their risk of developing gout or kidney stones. A low-purine diet is much more effective when patients drink at least eight glasses of water each day. This allows you to stay well-hydrated.
Many of the foods that you cannot have while on a low-purine diet are known triggers of inflammation. This can cause additional joint pain, separate from your gout attacks. Also, chronic inflammation is often considered a cause of many serious diseases, including cancer. Taking steps to reduce inflammation is always beneficial. Adding foods to your diets like fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meats can help with this. And that is what a low-purine diet encourages. Research has shown that fruits and vegetables that contain purines do not have the same negative impact as non-produce foods with purines. So they are safe to eat.
An additional benefit of eating a low-purine diet is that many of the foods you should eat are packed with antioxidants. Many experts suggest that a Mediterranean diet plan is a good start. Especially for those who wish to reduce their purine levels, and those foods are very antioxidant-rich. Some research even suggests that most alcohol should be avoided. A glass of wine is fine due to its high antioxidant count. Antioxidants fight against free-radical cells, which cause cancer and other serious diseases. So adding more of them to your diet can help you to stay healthy.
Reduced Heart Disease Risk
Another side benefit of a low-purine diet is that it reduces your risk for heart disease. Although purines and uric acid do not directly cause heart disease, eating too much unhealthy food can cause high cholesterol and high blood pressure. These are two common precursors to heart disease. Many of the foods that contain high amounts of purines contain cholesterol and are also typically preserved using sodium. Eliminating foods like anchovies, organ meats, and other unhealthy high-purine foods will have the secondary benefit of reducing your chances of developing heart disease later on. Also, losing weight on a low-purine diet also contributes to a decreased risk of cardiovascular issues.
Improves Overall Health
In general, switching to a low-purine diet can help to improve your general health. And it will encourage you to lead a more active lifestyle. By eliminating some of the barriers that prevent patients from being active, like pain and inflammation. This diet allows for an overall improvement in the quality of life. Whether you suffer from gout or kidney stones, or simply are looking for a healthier lifestyle. The low-purine diet is a good choice. Before beginning any diet, it is always a good idea to speak with your physician or a registered nutritionist to get a better idea of your health and wellness goals.