URIC ACID AND THE FEAR OF PROTEINS

If you have been in the fitness world for some time, you would be quite familiar with this entity: Uric Acid.

The thoughts that follow instantly are Gout, joint pain, arthritis etc.

Only the Individuals suffering from it, can understand the agony and the turmoil they have to go through. Everyone has an advice based on their experiences and loosely gathered knowledge.

 

That’s why, we must try to understand it at depth.

 

WHAT IS URIC ACID?

Uric acid is a metabolic chemical compound which is formed in the body when the proteins are catabolized, in other words, broken down.

Proteins are made up of amino acids. These amino acids form two types of compounds known as purines and pyrimidines which further go on to make our DNA which is needed for cellular growth.

While the breakdown of pyrimidines is not much an issue, the purine breakdown produces uric acid which normally should be present up to 7mg/dl in our blood. (Now this level may change for different ages and both genders but for simplicity sake, we can comfortably keep it at 7mg/dl). When the level increases beyond that, it causes a condition known as hyperuricemia.

 

WHAT ARE HYPERURICEMIA AND GOUT?

In this condition, the uric acid forms a crystal-like substance known as monosodium crystals which have the affinity for joint surfaces in our body. It destroys the joint surfaces by causing inflammation and cartilage breakdown(acute gout attacks). This causes joint swelling and extreme pain.This clinical manifestation of hyperuricemia is known as Gout.

 

Gout was also known as ‘the rich man`s disease ‘or ‘the king`s disease ‘as it was seen mostly in the affluent communities of the ancient world, but it can affect anyone.

The most affected joints in the body are the joint of the great toe and the foot joints. The knee joint and also any other joint may be affected in the long run. There is also deposition of gouty tophi – at the earlobes.

 

CAUSES OF HYPERURICAEMIA WITH RESPECT TO DIET AND FITNESS.

The causes of hyperuricemia can be classified into three types.

  1. Increased production of uric acid
  2. Decreased excretion of uric acid
  3. Mixed type

Alcohol consumption is one of the most important factors in the formation of high uric acid levels in the body and is considered to be a risk factor in developing gout.

 

Other risk factors include genetic predisposition, a sedentary lifestyle, high fatty food ingestion, obesity, diabetes, gallstones, high blood pressure, smoking, drinking less water, trauma and recurrent surgeries.

 

TYPES OF GOUT:

There are two types of gout:

  1. Acute gout ( gout flare attack).
  2. Chronic Gout

Acute gouty attacks usually are very painful and cause redness and swelling around the affected joint.

Chronic gout usually causes deformity and swelling of the affected joints, kidney stones and tophaceous deposition in the ears and nose cartilages.

 

DIET ALERT!!

If you are diagnosed of having hyperuricemia, the first thing which comes to your mind is that now you will have to leave eating protein and also turn a vegetarian for the rest of your life.

But there is good news. Research has shown that you don’t have to leave protein but you can safely have a set of prescribed proteins in your diet and meet your protein goals for the day.

 

Foods you can consume:

The foods which are recommended to be consumed are the foods which are alkaline (high pH )in nature and do not raise acid levels.

 

Vegetables: carrots, celery, chards, beetroots (including tops), lettuce, kohlrabi, cucumber, eggplants, tomatoes, pickled vegetables, garlic, onion, mushrooms, pumpkin, turnip, spinach, asparagus, Brussel sprouts, bell pepper, horseradish

Fruit: apples, tangerines, peach, pears, watermelons, raspberries, wild strawberries, strawberries, blackberries, brambles, sweet cherries, grapes, avocados, bananas, dried apricots, figs/ dates, currants, grapefruits, lemons, limes, oranges, pineapple, tangerines, freshly squeezed fruit and vegetables

 

Protein: eggs, quark, yogurt, tofu, chicken breast, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, squash seeds, summer squash seeds, sunflower seeds, sprouts, millet

 

Spices/condiments: pepper, chilly, curry, mustard, sea salt, cinnamon, ginger, apple cider vinegar

Other: bee pollen, mineral waters, molasses, green and herbal teas.

Whey protein also can be safely consumed within the stimulated macronutrient distribution as it has low purine-based protein.

Foods rich in vitamin C are beneficial.

Water intake should be adequate to high depending on your activity levels.

Consumption of coffee, dairy products, and turmeric has shown beneficial effects on lowering uric acid levels to some extent.

Losing weight, having a sound sleep and increasing the fitness level of the individual helps in preventing an acute rise of uric acid and alsoprevents acute flares.

 

 

HOW DOES EXERCISE HELP?

 Exercise ( resistance training ) does wonder in people having high uric acid levels in their body. The protein which they consume is used up to build muscles or to maintain them and thus there is less breakdown. Since excretion amount is decreased, the kidneys have to work less to excrete the uric acid.

Exercise also forces individuals to consume more water and provides good sleep and helps in relieving stress, which is beneficial to lower the uric acid levels. Individuals who are on medications for Gout should lead an active lifestyle and follow a proper diet. This helps in decreasing their uric acid levels.

An active lifestyle and properly structured diet is a key factor in managing hyperuricemia.

 

MYTHBUSTERS 

  • Consuming proteins worsens hyperuricemia.
  • Whey is bad and should be avoided.
  • All cases of hyperuricemia will develop Gout.
  • Uric acid levels never turn normal and patients require lifelong medications.

 

 

TAKE AWAY MESSAGE

If you want to keep yourself asymptomatic, the following key points should be kept in mind:

  1. Maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid alcohol.
  2. Keep yourself hydrated always.
  3. Workout 5 to 6 days a week and have a balanced diet.
  4. Consume more alkaline based foods.
  5. Chicken breast, eggs, dairy, and Whey are safe to consume.
  6. Vitamin C and coffee are beneficial.
  7. Sleep for at least 7 hours a day.
  8. Have a stress free lifestyle.
  9. Evaluate and visit a doctor every four months to check your serum uric acid levels.
  10. Do not stop medications right away but taper it down slowly.

 

Author credits – Sidney Xavier Dsa