Unusual levels of uric acid are often overlooked as a factor in many diseases. It often goes unnoticed if the patient does not complain of typical symptoms of gout, which is the most common result of high levels of uric acid. Both high and low levels of uric acid can be harmful depending on the patient.
Gout is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Uric acid is made by liver cells and excreted by the kidneys and intestinal tract. Xanthine oxidase (XO) is the enzyme involved in uric acid formation and the target of many medications. Certain factors make one more vulnerable to hyperuricemia, including obesity, binge eating, diet, genetics, and others. Uric acid levels are determined mostly via serum uric acid.
High uric acid levels, or hyperuricemia, can cause kidney problems and vice versa. These levels can cause hypertension, nephrotic syndrome, chronic kidney disease, cell damage, and uric acid kidney stones. Beyond the kidney, hyperuricemia can worsen several other conditions. It increases the risk of cardiovascular problems, hypertriglyceridemia, types of cancer, obesity, insulin resistance, nerve damage in diabetics, etc.
But, there are also benefits of uric acid. It enhances cognitive function and has a neuroprotective function. Low levels of uric acid are associated with stroke and COVID-19 mortality, Alzheimer’s, MS, Parkinson’s, some types of cancer, and more.
In addition to diet, medications can raise levels of serum uric acid, including aspirin and caffeine. Other medications, like estrogen and glucose, can decrease levels.
To manage uric acid levels, one should try dietary changes. First, reduce consumption of foods containing purine, such as eggs, red and white meat, seafood, soft drinks, fruit juices, and alcohol. Whole soy beans, soy milk, soy protein powder, and added high fructose corn syrup should also be avoided, as they also increase uric acid. The effects of fructose can be balanced with fresh fruit containing vitamin C, although. Coffee, celery, cherry juice, milk, and Bing sweet cherries all lower uric acid and can help with gout symptoms. Probiotics, Vitamin C and D, curcumin, cassia oil from cinnamon, and more can also be taken to manage uric acid levels. Saunas should not be used as treatment for high levels, as there is no uric acid in human sweat. Saunas can actually increase the concentration of uric acid. For those with marginal kidney function, infrared saunas can be helpful, but should be approached with caution.
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Henderson, J. (June 2021). Uric Acid and Inflammation. Townsend Letter, (455). 30-32.