Causes of uric acid

Causes of uric acid or hyperuricemia


Why do we have high uric acid levels?

The causes of high uric acid levels can be:

  • cold cuts
    Cold cuts are doubly discouraged: Due to their high salt and purine content, they cannot be consumed when there are high uric acid levels

    Primary causes: They are mainly due to hereditary factors, alterations in metabolism that produce the accumulation of uric acid in the body.

  • Secondary causes: They may be due to an inadequate diet (rich in foods with a high purine content, salt, alcohol, etc.), or they may be associated with the appearance of some disease, or the taking of medications that prevent the elimination of the uric acid.

People with a genetic tendency to have high uric acid

When uric acid is high in a person who has a correct diet, without diseases or other factors that can lead to this hyperuricemia, it is usually due to a genetic or hereditary factor. These people generally have a family history of gouty arthritis or gout problems.

Heredity factor is a primary cause of high uric acid. It occurs because it increases the endogenous production (by the body itself) of uric acid, due to some alteration in the metabolism of uric acid or in the metabolism of purines.

It should be taken into account that the regeneration of the muscular tissues themselves generates small amounts of uric acid. In cases where there is an increase in the this regeneration, such as psoriasis, some types of cancer or other diseases, these levels can also increase.

Secondary causes of uric acid

Diet that increases uric acid

The type of diet influences high uric acid levels. Generally, diet is not usually the only cause of uric acid, but it is a factor that is important in the control and evolution of this disease:

  • Foods very rich in purines (mainly meat, organ meats, fish, sausages, hamburgers) cause an increase in uric acid levels.
  • In addition, consuming a lot of salt results in a low diuretic diet that does not favor the elimination of these substances.
  • Inadequate diet in general, a combination of the two previous cases: For example, during festive or Christmas times, when this type of dietary excesses abound, gout attacks frequently occur.

Can hyperuricemia be cured with diet?

Genetics is the primary causative factor of hyperuricemia, but one of the most common causes of the excessive increase in uric acid, or that usually aggravates pre-existing hyperuricemia, is excessive consumption in the intake of foods rich in purines, from the nucleic acids present in organ meats (pâtés…), meat, seafood, fish broth or meat broth, fish (especially oily fish such as salmon, sardines, tuna…), etc.

If the usual diet is abundant in these foods, eliminating them from the diet will significantly reduce hyperuricemia and inflammation in the joints.

Sugar and hyperuricemia

Other dietary causes that are sometimes not related to this increase, but that also have their potentiating action, is eating many foods rich in sugar, that is, junk food: sweets, refined sugar, sugary soft drinks, industrial fruit juices, chocolates or pastries.

An intake of foods very rich in fructose and/or sucrose, can increase uric acid levels by de novo synthesis metabolism, starting from ribose-5-phosphate. Removing these foods from the diet can only bring benefits.

Diet for hyperuricemia

A proper diet, rich in alkalizing foods, diuretics, low salt, and foods low in purines, improves uric acid levels and can help to significantly improve the frequency and intensity of gout attacks.

Fasting or not eating for many hours can also further increase uric acid levels in people with high-level problems.

Alcohol consumption and hyperuricemia

vegetable cream
Photo vegetable cream. The vegetable is highly recommended because it does not contain purines and helps purify the body of uric acid

Alcohol consumption also increases uric acid levels even more in people with a tendency to this problem. The intake of alcoholic beverages varies the hepatic metabolism of uric acid, that is, it slows the transformation of alcohol causing it to accumulate in the body and increase its levels.

To finish with the dietary aspect, it should be noted that an unbalanced diet, rich in animal meat and ultra-processed, can negatively affect the intestinal flora, causing a decrease in healthy bacteria in the intestine.

Although the main route of elimination of uric acid in the body is the urine, the intestinal microbiota also influences part of the metabolism of purines. A weakened intestinal flora will not exert its uric acid elimination action as it should. A diet rich in vegetables and legumes, as well as eating foods with probiotics such as yogurts, will help improve intestinal balance.

Diseases associated or related to increased uric acid and gout attacks

Hyperuricemia or high levels of uric acid in the blood can also appear due to illness. Among the different pathologies in which this affectation can be related, are:

High cholesterol and uric acid

  • High cholesterol and triglycerides (dyslipidemia): Foods that are rich in purines are also usually rich in cholesterol, as is the case with cheeses, sausages, pâtés, red meat, fish, cream and fatty dairy products, etc. If excess uric acid is due to diet, you may be overweight or obese (not in all cases), poor circulation, problems with high bad cholesterol, low good cholesterol, etc.

Cardiovascular disease and uric acid

Increased uric acid is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, such as hypertension, tachycardia, etc.

Diabetes and uric acid

Diabetes is related to uric acid. When a person has insulin resistance, urate reabsorption increases and its concentration in the blood increases. Insulin resistance is when our body cannot use glucose correctly to generate energy. It accumulates in the blood and the levels of both are unbalanced (hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia appear), a disease called type II diabetes mellitus or adult onset diabetes.

A side effect of blood hyperglycemia and imbalance in a patient with poorly controlled diabetes is the formation of ketone bodies or also called ketosis. These substances that also acidify the blood, are formed when our body uses fat to produce the necessary energy that is required for the survival of our organism.

This system is also activated when we carry out diets to lose weight, where the energy contribution is insufficient. The problem arises when you are overweight  or obese together with a accumulation of uric acid and it is advisable to lose weight.

It is necessary that the uric acid levels in the blood stabilize first, before trying to lose weight. Once these are stable, you can start a weight loss diet, but it is necessary to do it together with food to basify our body.

Kidney disease and uric acid

  • Kidney diseases: High uric acid in the blood can be a consequence of kidney diseases, such as acute or chronic kidney failure. This can also happen as a result of chemotherapy treatment. These involve an alteration of the function of the kidneys and the elimination of minor diseases of the toxins through the kidneys. Therefore, excess uric acid cannot be eliminated in order to maintain normal levels of uric acid in the blood.

People with a tendency to uric acid accumulation can lead to the formation of kidney stones.  Not drinking enough water, or having high water losses (excessive sweating, intense physical exercise, etc.), together with a diet that is too acidic, can lead to an increase in uric acid levels.

The failure of the kidney functions to eliminate toxins can also be a secondary cause of some medications, such as: antiretrovirals, diuretics, laxatives, antituberculous drugs, etc.

Other diseases related to uric acid

  • Infectious diseases: Uric acid levels can increase when contracting a viral disease such as infectious mononucleosis, also known as kissing disease. This virus is in the same family as the herpes simplex virus.
  • Psoriasis: Uric acid levels can be increased by psoriasis, an autoimmune disease whose regeneration process of skin cell tissue is greatly increased. In the last two cases, the proliferation and rapid cell multiplication affects and aggravates the level of acidosis in our body. The following guidelines or diet for psoriasis is recommended in these cases.
  • Cancer: An increase in uric acid can in some cases be the consequence of a malignant tumor or cancer. It can appear, for example, due to the destruction of different blood cells, as in myeloma, leukemia and lymphoma cancers, where cells such as leukocytes are affected and altered.
  • Other causes: A state of hyperthyroidism or chronic intoxication by heavy metals, such as lead accumulation, can be indirect causes of a accumulation of uric acid and therefore, the appearance of hyperuricemia.

punto rojo More information on uric acid

This article was endorsed by Elisenda Carballido - Dietitian nutritionist. Postgraduate in Phytotherapy and master in Nutrition and Metabolism.
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

16 June, 2021

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