By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
February 2, 2015
- Have you had this test?
- Gout-related acid linked to heart disease, diabetes and kidney failure
- How to flush this deadly menace from your body
Have you ever had your uric acid levels tested? If not, it might be a good idea to ask your doctor for the simple blood test the next time you’re in for a visit. That’s because high levels of uric acid – a condition called hyperuricemia (pronounced hyper-yur-i-see-me-ya) – are on the rise in U.S. adults.
Now, if you don’t have gout, you might not even know about this acid. But gout sufferers know all too well what high levels of it can do. When there are excess levels of it in your body, it can cause crystals to form in your joints. This leads to the inflammation, swelling and excruciating pain associated with gout.
But here’s the thing: High uric acid isn’t just linked to painful episodes of gout. It also has links to high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes. In fact, uric acid is one of the simplest blood tests we can do, to determine general imbalance and toxicity in your body.
What does this mean for you?
If you have undiagnosed hyperuricemia – or if you’ve experienced episodes of gout – you may be at increased risk of some of our most common age-related diseases.
Complications from hyperuricemia tend to start when levels of uric acid exceed 6 mg/dl. This is the point where gouty symptoms often become apparent.
Not everyone with high uric acid will experience gout. But other problems may become noticeable over time. And they can be life-threatening.
You see, uric acid causes high blood pressure and damages the inner lining of your blood vessels (the endothelium). One of the ways it does this is by robbing you of vital nitric oxide (NO). This naturally occurring gas helps relax and expand your blood vessels so blood can flow freely through your body.
When you don’t have enough NO, it can damage your arteries, contribute to plaque build-up, and cause a dangerous increase in blood pressure.
Well, that high blood pressure is a real problem – and not just when it comes to your risk of heart disease. It can also damage the blood vessels in your kidneys. If this happens, your kidneys might not be able to remove wastes and fluid from your body.
Once this occurs, it creates a situation where even more fluid builds up, including uric acid. This raises your blood pressure even further, and causes more damage to the kidneys. So it turns into a pretty vicious cycle.
The problem can get even worse when it’s treated by your doctor. That’s because he’ll probably put you on a regimen of low-dose aspirin. And chances are good he’ll also send you home with a prescription for a diuretic (water pill) to help flush out all that excess fluid.
That’s the worst thing he could do. Both of these drugs reduce uric acid excretion and increase your chances of hyperuricemia. This means more damage to your blood vessels and kidneys. Talk about a disaster!
Now, you might not know this, but high blood pressure is the second leading cause of kidney failure in the U.S. today. And guess what the second leading cause of kidney failure is?
It’s diabetes. So I’ll bet it won’t surprise you to learn that high levels of uric acid play a huge role in the development of this metabolic disorder. For every 1 mg/dl increase in uric acid, your risk of developing diabetes increases by about 20%. If you already have impaired fasting glucose (pre-diabetes), each 1 mg/dl increment in uric acid levels triples that risk.
Clearly, uric acid isn’t “just about gout.” It’s a huge threat to your livelihood. So let’s take a look at some things you can do to make sure you keep it in check.
The first thing you’ll hear when it comes to excess uric acid is that you should cut down on foods that contain purines. These are chemical compounds that are broken down into uric acid.
Most high-purine foods are animal proteins like organ meats, red meat and fatty fish. Some vegetables, like peas, spinach, cauliflower and asparagus contain purines, too. And I agree that it’s a good idea to avoid them if you have high uric acid levels or have frequent episodes of gout.
But today, there’s an even more distressing reason our uric acid levels are rising. It’s the consumption of sweeteners, like sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. These aren’t purine foods, but they do increase production of uric acid. They also reduce excretion of it. This explains why heavy soda drinkers have about 75% to 85% chance of gout. So I definitely recommend passing up on sweets and sodas.
Alcohol works on uric acid levels in much the same way soda does. Beer is the worst. Vodka and whiskey aren’t quite as bad, but they’ll still raise your levels. However, red wine is okay if you drink no more than one glass a day.
In the meantime, there are several other proactive measures you can take to lower uric acid and reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes and kidney failure.
- Eat more cherries. A half pound of bing cherries each day can lower uric acid in just a few hours. If you’re not a cherry lover, try black cherry juice – just add 1 teaspoonful concentrate to 5 teaspoons full of water. If you’re experiencing gouty symptoms, you’ll want to increase to equal parts of each, 3-4 times a day.
- Take 1,500 mg. of vitamin C daily. It can have a significant impact on your uric acid levels. It can also cut your chances of gout almost in half.
- Drink plenty of water each day. It’s one of the best ways to rid excess uric acid from your body. Aim for at least 10-12 glasses a day. Adding a squirt of fresh lime juice can enhance the effects.
- Replenish your nitric oxide levels with high-nitrate foods. Beetroot (or beetroot juice) is by far the top NO booster. Celery, lettuce, Chinese cabbage, radish and turnips are also good choices. Or, you can supplement with a plant-based NO booster that has beetroot as its main ingredient.
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