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Heart-healthy diet found to be as effective as medication for treating gout

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and reduced in fats and saturated fats.

It was devised decades ago to reduce high blood pressure. Now, according to a study led by John Hopkins researchers, the DASH diet can significantly lower uric acid.

Uric acid is the causative agent of gout, and the DASH diet was so effective that improvements in some participants were nearly comparable to results achieved with drugs specifically prescribed to treat gout.

The findings from a randomized clinical trial could soon point the way to “an effective, safe and sustainable dietary approach” to help lower uric acid and even prevent gout flare-ups in those with mild to moderate disease, especially in those who can’t or don’t want to take gout drugs.

The Hopkins researchers said that even though symptoms of gout outbreaks — such as severe inflammation and sharp pain in the joints, like the base of the big toe — have been linked to elevated uric acid, it’s not really clear what type of diet can effectively lower uric acid and decrease the risk of flare-ups.

To settle the matter, Stephen P. Juraschek, M.D., Ph.D., research and clinical fellow in general internal medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, along with his colleagues, studied data from the DASH clinical trial, a widely popular and often-cited study. The DASH clinical trial’s results were first published in 1997, and these results revealed that the DASH diet —which highlights the importance of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products and reduced intake of salt, red meats, sweets and saturated fats — helped improve and individual’s blood pressure and cholesterol.

In the original DASH-sodium trial, at baseline and at the end of each sodium intake period, the researchers involved in the original study took blood samples that were analyzed for various blood markers, like uric acid.

For the new study, Juraschek et al. studied the data to confirm if and how each intervention affected uric acid blood concentrations. The scientists learned that the DASH diet resulted in a “modest 0.35 milligrams per deciliter decrease in uric acid concentrations overall.” But the higher participants’ baseline uric acid levels, the more dramatic the decrease was.

Juraschek stated that in the context of existing data about levels of uric acid linked to gout flare-up risk, it’s a significant reduction in uric acid. Gout-treating medications, like allopurinol, helps reduce patients’ blood uric acid concentrations about two milligrams per deciliter.

The researchers caution that only further research can establish the connection between the DASH diet and uric acid in patients with gout and if the DASH diet can reduce or prevent gout flare-ups. In addition, the new study could offer patients a feasible way of controlling uric acid concentrations — and allegedly gout flare-ups — via a diet that has positive effects on blood pressure, a well-established risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Senior author Edgar R. Miller III, M.D. Ph.D., professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, concluded that the results of this trial can be used to help patients “with high blood levels of uric acid or those at risk for gout.” Miller added that a dietary approach to prevent gout is the best line of action and that this study implies that the typical dietary advice for uric acid reduction, like minimizing alcohol and protein intake, must include advice to follow the DASH diet.

Natural remedies to help keep uric acid at normal levels

If you suffer from gout, try consuming more of the foods listed below to keep your uric acid at normal levels:

  • Cherries/ Cherry juice
  • Oils made from whole nuts and seeds – Supplement oils with a tablespoon of flaxseed oil daily if you have gout.
  • Water – Drink at least 10 to 12 eight-ounce glasses of water daily.

You can learn more about other natural cures at Cures.news.

Sources include:

HopkinsMedicine.org

LiveStrong.com 1

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