Certain foods can trigger flare-ups of gout, a painful joint condition that commonly results from excess uric acid, which can build up in the blood. But new research says the same diet that helps reduce blood pressure can help ease gout symptoms, too.
The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet decreases uric acid in the body and lowers the risk for painful gout flare-ups, according to findings of a study conducted by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and published online in Arthritis & Rheumatology in August 2016.
The DASH eating plan, which is recognized as a proven way to reduce blood pressure and improve heart health, emphasizes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, and lean protein from fish, nuts, seeds, and legumes. It also limits red meat, sweets, and saturated fat. Many of its elements overlap with gout diets.
Study participants—103 adults, average age 52, with pre- or stage I hypertension—were assigned either the DASH diet or a typical American diet, and random sodium levels (low, medium, or high). Researchers found that after 30 days on the DASH diet, seven of the eight people who had high initial levels of uric acid—above 7 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter)—at the start of the study period saw their levels drop by 1 mg/dL—a drop similar to that achieved with urate-lowering drug therapy.
It’s worth noting that none of the study participants were diagnosed with gout and that not everyone with high uric acid levels develops gout. Also, the participants were mostly women and individuals who drank small amounts of alcohol, whereas gout is more common in men and heavy drinkers.
Still, the findings are encouraging, says John Flynn, M.D., professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a member of the Health After 50 medical advisory board. “It may be possible to lower your risk for developing gout in the first place by adopting this heart-healthy eating plan. More study will be required to determine if that could further prevent patients from having to take chronic gout medication in the future.”
Diane is a Senior Content Producer at Remedy Health Media, LLC. She writes the Daily Dose for HealthCentral and is the editorial director at HealthCommunities. Her goal is to contribute to a valuable, trustworthy, and informative experience for people who are searching for health information online.