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Gout Sufferers: DASH Diet Is Still the Way to Go

You’ve probably heard the advice that we should reduce our sodium intake whenever possible. However, one study’s results surprised researchers by showing that increasing sodium intake—even to an amount similar to that in the average American diet—decreased serum levels of uric acid, a compound linked to gout symptoms. The study was published in Arthritis & Rheumatology and included 103 adults with pre-hypertension or stage 1 hypertension. The participants were randomly assigned to follow a typical American diet or the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet with three different levels of sodium intake. After 30 days, the participants switched diets. Researchers found that:

  • Following the DASH diet was associated with a decrease in serum uric acid levels. The greatest effect was seen in participants with the highest uric acid levels at the beginning of the study, and was comparable to the effect of uric acid-lowering gout medications.
  • For each diet, serum uric acid levels were highest during the low-sodium phases, slightly reduced during the medium-sodium phases, and lowest during the high-sodium phases.

Despite these findings, the researchers were quick to discourage the excessive consumption of sodium as a way to lower uric acid and manage gout. Since adhering to the DASH diet—which emphasizes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products, and limits meat, sugar, and saturated fat—had the greatest impact on high uric acid levels, and high sodium intake contributes to high blood pressure in the long term, the results suggest that a healthy diet may still be the best way to go to prevent gout flare-ups.

Source: Arthritis & Rheumatology

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