Low Purine Diet

Healthcare professionals often recommend a low-purine diet for people who have gout, kidney stones, or a similar disorder. The diet involves limiting or avoiding the intake of certain foods and beverages in favour of more healthful alternatives. While a low-purine diet is designed to ease symptoms of certain illnesses, it can also improve general health and well-being.

In this article, learn which foods a person on a low-purine diet should eat and which they should avoid.

What is a low-purine diet?

A low-purine diet should include lots of vegetables and whole fruits. Purines are organic compounds that are not necessarily harmful. In fact, it is natural for the body to contain some purines at all times. However, purines break down into a waste substance called uric acid. Most uric acid dissolves harmlessly in the blood before the kidneys filter it and remove it from the body.

The breakdown of purines is responsible for about 15 percent of the uric acid in the body.

When levels of uric acid exceed the amount that the body can process, the acid can form crystals in the blood. These can cause gout, kidney stones, and other issues. A low-purine diet helps to minimize the number of purines in the body and reduce the amount of uric acid in the blood. There are two key parts of a successful low-purine diet. The first involves recognizing and avoiding foods that contain high levels of purines. The second consists in changing the diet to help the body get rid of uric acid more efficiently.

Who can benefit from a low-purine diet?

Uric acid crystals can form kidney stones or cause gout if they build up in the joints and tendons. People with high levels of uric acid in the blood have a condition called hyperuricemia, and a low-purine diet can help.

Foods to avoid

Foods that contain high levels of purines include:

  • wild game, such as veal, venison, and duck
  • red meat
  • some seafood, including tuna, sardines, anchovies, herring, mussels, codfish, scallops, trout, and haddock
  • organ meat, such as liver, kidneys, and thymus glands, which are known as sweetbreads

Other foods and beverages can change how the body retains or eliminates uric acid.

A person should significantly limit or avoid the following foods to help the body process purines more effectively:

  • High-fat foods: Fat holds uric acid in the kidneys, so a person should avoid fried foods, full-fat dairy products, rich desserts, and other high-fat items.
  • Alcohol: Beer and whiskey are high in purines, but some research shows that all alcohol consumption can raise uric acid levels. Alcohol also causes dehydration, which hampers the body’s ability to flush out uric acid.
  • Sweetened beverages: Fructose is an ingredient in many sweetened beverages, including fruit juices and sodas, and consuming too much puts a person at risk for gout.

Foods to eat

Whole-grain bread is a good choice for people on a low-purine diet.

People on a low-purine diet can still enjoy plenty of foods and beverages. Good choices include:

  • Water: Staying hydrated helps the kidneys to remove uric acid from the bloodstream and the body.
  • Low-fat dairy products: Low-fat and fat-free options are best for foods such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and frozen yogurt.
  • Grains and starch: These include foods such as bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes. Favor whole-grain products.
  • Fruits and vegetables: All vegetables are healthful, and a person should favor whole fruits and juices with no added sugar.
  • Vitamin C: Good sources of vitamin C include grapefruit, oranges, pineapples, strawberries, bell peppers, tomatoes, and avocados.
  • Lean proteins: Doctors do not believe that small or moderate amounts of poultry and fish will raise purine levels.
  • Eggs: However, a person should only consumer moderate amounts.
  • Coffee, tea, carbonated beverages.

Other tips

While a low-purine diet can help to prevent kidney stones or flare-ups of gout, the diet is not a cure for either condition. Medication can also help to lower chronically high uric acid levels. These medications can regulate uric acid levels in the long term.

About Neena Luthra

Neena Luthra M.Sc Food and Nutrition P.G Diploma in Nutrition and Dietetics Dietician, Ex GMCH 32, Chandigarh A well-presented, self-motivated and best dietitian in Chandigarh with experience of assessing patients’ nutritional needs, then developing and implementing nutrition programs for them.

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