Scientists from Johns Hopkins University found that a healthy diet can effectively lower blood levels of uric acid, a known trigger of gout.
Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that causes pain and swelling in your joints, usually as flares that last for a week or two, and then resolve.
Gout flares often begin in your big toe or a lower limb. Gout happens when high levels of serum urate build up in your body, which can then form needle-shaped crystals in and around the joint.
This leads to inflammation and arthritis of the joint. When the body makes too much urate, or removes too little, urate levels build up in the body.
However, many people with high levels of serum urate will not develop gout.
Some people with gout may be more likely to develop other conditions or complications, especially with the heart and kidneys.
Common conditions include high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
There are few scientific findings guiding dietary recommendations to lower uric acid in the blood a big predictor of gout.
In the current study, researchers aimed to examine how the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet (a well-established diet that lowers blood pressure) and levels of sodium intake affect uric acid levels.
DASH is a flexible and balanced eating plan that helps create a heart-healthy eating style for life.
The DASH eating plan requires no special foods and instead provides daily and weekly nutritional goals.
This plan recommends eating vegetables, fruits, and whole grains; including fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils; limiting foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and tropical oils such as coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils, and limiting sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets.
The researchers tested 103 adults with prehypertension or stage I hypertension.
Prehypertension is defined as a systolic pressure from 120–139 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or a diastolic pressure from 80–89 mm Hg.
Stage 1 hypertension is a systolic pressure ranging from 130 to 139 mm Hg or a diastolic pressure ranging from 80 to 89 mm Hg.
The participants in the study were assigned to receive either the DASH diet or a control diet (typical of the average American diet) for 30 days, and their diets could have low, medium, and high levels of sodium.
The researchers found that the DASH diet reduced uric acid levels strongly. Increasing sodium intake was linked to a lower-level decreased serum uric acid.
Based on the findings, the team concluded that the DASH diet lowered serum uric acid, and this effect was greater among people with a higher uric acid level in the blood.
The team also found that higher sodium intake decreased serum uric acid, and they suggest that future work needs to find out the reason.
The research was published in Arthritis & Rheumatology and was conducted by Stephen Juraschek et al.
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