Your body is an engineering marvel. Even an action as seemingly simple as a blink is tremendously complex.
Your eyes sense they’re dry. A message goes to the brain. The brain sends out messages to various muscles, which then bring your eyelids down and back up again.
It happens – quite literally – in the blink of an eye. Half the time, you’re not even fully aware you’ve blinked. It’s like a computer program that runs in the background.
As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong with a machine as complicated as your body. And that’s why the causes of some health problems are often overlooked.
Take aching joints. Most people with aching joints wouldn’t immediately think, “My uric acid levels must be high.” But that’s often the case. And – fortunately – it’s a problem you can do something about.
You see, your body creates substances called purines when you digest certain kinds of protein. The breakdown of these purines creates uric acid (UA).
Normally, your body eliminates excess UA, and everything is fine. But genetics, kidney problems and other causes can lead to a uric acid build-up. And that’s when the trouble starts.
UA crystals can form deposits in your joints, causing swelling, tenderness and serious pain. Attacks may come and go quickly at first, but tend to last longer and longer over time.
Excess uric acid may also contribute to long-term blood sugar and kidney problems. So keeping your levels down really pays off in terms of health.
A team at Mass General Hospital and Harvard University found that a number of foods can affect your UA levels.(1, 2)
- Eating lots of meat and seafood tends to increase UA levels.
- Low-fat dairy products appear to encourage lower levels of uric acid.
- Beer is linked to higher UA levels. Liquor also raises UA, but less than beer. Moderate wine intake appears to have no effect.
More recently, researchers in British Columbia added soft drinks sweetened with fructose to the list of foods that raise UA levels.(3)
Besides dairy, getting more fiber, vitamin C and folate – a B vitamin – have all been linked to lower levels of UA.(4) For a tasty treat that does double duty, try tart cherries. Not only do they help your body get rid of excess UA, the promote greater joint comfort.(5)
High blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity have also been linked to increased UA levels.(6) So taking care of these problems may also help.
Uric acid build-up is fairly common. But it’s often overlooked. Your doctor can tell if you have a problem with a simple blood test. If your uric acid is high, a combination of these safe, natural steps could bring you quick relief.
1 Choi HK, et al. Intake of purine-rich foods, protein, and dairy products and relationship to serum levels of uric acid: the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Arthritis Rheum. 2005 Jan;52(1):283-9.
2 Choi HK and Curhan G. Beer, liquor, and wine consumption and serum uric acid level: the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Arthritis Rheum. 2004 Dec 15;51(6):1023-9.
3 Choi JW, et al. Sugar-sweetened soft drinks, diet soft drinks, and serum uric acid level: the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Arthritis Rheum. 2008 Jan 15;59(1):109-16.
4 Lyu LC, et al. A case-control study of the association of diet and obesity with gout in Taiwan. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Oct;78(4):690-701.
5 Jacob RA, et al. Consumption of Cherries Lowers Plasma Urate in Healthy Women. J. Nutr. June 1, 2003 vol. 133 no. 6 1826-1829.
6 Singh JA, et al. Risk factors for gout and prevention: a systematic review of the literature. Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2011 Mar;23(2):192-202.
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