7 Tips for Following a Low-Purine Diet

Medically reviewed by Natalie Olsen, RD, LD, ACSM EP-C on November 1, 2017Written by Summer Fanous on November 1, 2017

If you love meat and beer, a diet that effectively cuts both of these out might seem dull. But a low-purine diet can be helpful if you’ve recently received a diagnosis of gout, kidney stones, or a digestive disorder. It can also be helpful if you’re simply looking for ways to avoid such a diagnosis on your next trip to the doctor.

Whatever your reason, here are some tips for following a low-purine diet.

1. Understand what purine is

Purine by itself isn’t the problem. Purine is produced naturally in your body and is also found in certain foods. The problem is that purines break down into uric acid, which can form into crystals that deposit in your joints and cause pain and inflammation. This joint pain is referred to as gout, or a gout attack.

One third of the uric acid your body makes is due to the breakdown of purines you get from food and drink. If you eat a lot of purine-heavy foods, your body has a higher level of uric acid. Too much uric acid can result in disorders like gout or kidney stones.

2. Decide if the low-purine diet is for you

According to Mayo Clinic, a low-purine diet is great for anyone who needs help managing gout or kidney stones. It also encourages eating foods like fruits and vegetables instead of greasy meats. So a low-purine diet can be helpful even if you don’t have a disorder and just want to eat healthier.

One study involving close to 4,500 people showed that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with lower risk of developing high uric acid. This may be due to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties present in this type of diet.

3. Enjoy wholesome meals without bad consequences

There are actually many foods that you can eat if you’re following a low-purine diet. Good foods to eat include bread, cereal, and pasta. Whole-grain options are especially recommended. Other foods on the menu include:

  • low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • coffee
  • eggs
  • whole fruits and vegetables
  • potatoes
  • nuts

4. Choose wine instead of beer

Beer is a high-purine drink that, according to recent research, has a direct correlation with increased uric acid production because of its yeast.

The same study revealed, however, that wine doesn’t affect how much uric acid your body produces. Small amounts can even have a positive effect on your system. So at your next dinner party or night out, it might be wise to choose wine instead of beer.

5. Take a break from the sardines

High purine foods to avoid include:

  • bacon
  • liver
  • sardines and anchovies
  • dried peas and beans
  • oatmeal

Vegetables that have high purine content include cauliflower, spinach, and mushrooms. However, these don’t seem to increase uric acid production as much as the other foods.

6. Drink plenty of water

Uric acid passes through your body via your urine. If you don’t drink very much water, you may increase the buildup of uric acid in your body. According to the National Kidney Foundation, you can reduce your risk for gout and kidney stones if you drink eight glasses of water or more a day.

7. Have a little fun!

Being on a low-purine diet doesn’t have to be a drag. According to a 2013 study from Greece, Mediterranean diets are great for lowering uric acid in your body. Consider buying a Mediterranean cookbook or enjoying a nice meal at a Mediterranean restaurant.

The takeaway

For people who have kidney stones or gout, following a low-purine diet might be necessary. However, most people are able to naturally achieve a balance between how much purine they take in and uric acid they produce.

If you think a low-purine diet is right for you, speak to your doctor first. You can also meet with a registered dietitian to help you get started.

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