A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products and reduced intake of saturated fats, designed to lower high blood pressure will lead to significant decrease in uric acid levels, the main causative agent of gout - an extremely painful form of arthritis, revealed a study.
Symptoms of gout outbreaks - like severe inflammation and sharp pain in the joints, particularly in the base of the big toe, have been linked to increased uric acid and can also result in profound disability.
The findings showed that a DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet - designed primarily to reduce blood pressure - can be an effective, safe and sustainable dietary approach to lower uric acid and possibly prevent gout flare-ups in those with mild to moderate disease and who can't or don't want to take drugs to treat gout.
The DASH diet that comprises of reduced salt, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products and reduced intake of red meats, sweets and saturated fats - had a marked positive improvement on blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
The diet also led to a modest 0.35 milligrams per deciliter decrease in uric acid concentrations overall.
"Results of this trial are good news to patients with high blood levels of uric acid or those at risk for gout. A dietary approach to prevent gout should be considered first line therapy," said Edgar R. Miller III, Professor at the Johns Hopkins University, Maryland, USA.
The higher a participants' baseline uric acid levels, the more dramatic was the decrease. For those with the highest baseline uric acid levels - for example, more than 7 milligrams per deciliter - the decrease was as high as 1.3 milligrams per deciliter.
The effect was so strong in some participants that it was nearly comparable to that achieved with drugs specifically prescribed to treat gout, the researchers said.
"The study suggests that standard dietary advice for uric acid reduction, which is to reduce alcohol and protein intake, should now include the DASH diet," Miller III added.
On the other hand, dietary excesses, such as consuming a lot of red meat and alcohol, have long been associated with gout, a disease marked by high levels of uric acid in the blood and whose causes remain an enigma despite centuries of investigation.
However, the researchers cautioned that further research is needed to more clearly establish the link between the DASH diet and uric acid in gout patients and to directly explore whether the diet might reduce or prevent gout flare-ups.
(With agency inputs)