Did you know that treating hypertension with a special diet may prevent gout? The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet has been long supported by the American Heart Association as a way to help avoid heart disease. The DASH diet is high in fruits and vegetables and low in salt, sugar and red meat. This diet is low in compounds called purines which break down to form uric acid.
Gout is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis. It is a joint disease that causes extreme pain and swelling and according to recent studies, gout has risen among Americans over recent decades due in part to our “Western” diet.
Gout is caused by excess uric acid in the blood. Sharp pointed crystals of uric acid concentrate in the joints, like the great toe joint, and causes inflammation, swelling and pain.
Now, here is where the DASH diet helps hypertension and decreases gout: The DASH diet recommends low animal protein known to have high purine levels and also encourages individuals to have a high intake of fruits, vegetables and vitamin C which helps the body eliminate uric acid.
So there you have it! (Like you didn’t already know this.) The DASH diet is high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, low-fat dairy products and whole grains. It is low in salt, sugary drinks and red and processed meats. People on this diet were less likely to develop gout than those who ate a typical “Western” diet.
Studies seem to support the fact that patients who ate a diet high in meat producing purines and therefore high in uric acid, also have elevated blood pressure or hypertension. The DASH diet may be a good option for patients with gout who have not progressed to a stage that would require medication to lower their uric acid levels or who prefer to avoid taking drugs altogether.