Doctors now need not order patients at risk for gout to avoid purine-rich foods. Purine is a naturally-occurring chemical in the body and when broken down becomes uric acid.

Uric acid when not flushed out of the system could form into crystals around joints, usually the big toe, and result to gout, an extremely painful form of arthritis. How does one suffer from elevated levels of uric acid? Sometimes, the body produces too much or is unable to eliminate it through the urine or, by eating food rich in purine.

While patients suffering from gout or who showed high uric acid levels used to be asked to stop consuming foods with purine, physicians today can now give another option to manage uric acid levels.

Abstinence from purine was very challenging because there are so many foods with this chemical that had to be avoided.

One way not to totally get rid of purine in the diet – typically meats, seafood and alcohol – is to lose weight. At the same time, a patient has to be mindful to reduce calorie intake. These two in combination are said to be quite effective in preventing the build-up of uric acid.

Today, research has shown that losing weight plus lower calorie intake are factors in preventing gout. Not only will this reduce the levels of uric acid, it should reduce gout attacks and stress on joints, which are the usual targets of the crystallized uric acid.

Healthcare providers, however, must advise patients that if they choose not to eliminate purine-rich foods like asparagus, spinach, mushrooms, peas and cauliflower in their diet, they must add more complex carbohydrates to what they consume.

That means more fruits, vegetables and multi-grains. Staying hydrated – water is the best option, with at least eight glasses daily – should also help reduce the risk of increasing uric acid levels.

Doctors, however, must warn patients against consuming foods that are too sweet – like cake, candy, ice cream - because these have high sugar content and are not good for those prone to gout. MIMS