What is a purine?
A purine is a heterocyclic aromatic organic compound. It consists of a pyrimidine ring fused to an imidazole ring. Purines, including substituted purines and their tautomers, are the most widely distributed kind of nitrogen-containing heterocycle in nature. If that was not enlightening try this: purines are found in all types of animal tissue because they are necessary for DNA and RNA construction; they are also storehouses for extra phosphates which are necessary for energy and movement. Purines are also found in plants but in very low amounts and not in a form that is troublesome to people. Virtually everything you eat has purines and that is a good thing. The trouble lies, as with so many things, in lack of balance.
How do you check your purine levels?
A simple blood test is used to check uric acid levels.
Purine Rich Foods
Most people become aware of purines through a bad experience with gout (no good experiences have ever been recorded). Gout is pain in the joint caused by uric acid crystals grinding against the soft tissue–like sand in suntan lotion. The crystals are a result of a high amount of uric acid in the body fluids and, you guessed it, uric acid is a byproduct of too much purines.
Often referred to as the “Rich man’s disease” or “The disease of kings” because of its prevalence throughout much of history in Europe among the royalty and merchant classes who were usually the only ones who could afford the protein-rich animal meats that are the most common culprits of gout.
In modern times, however, the standard American diet is even more laden with purine-rich foods such as:
- foods made with high concentrations of yeast such as bread and beer that lead to production of uric acid crystals
While it is still more prevalent in men it can affect people from all walks of life.
Symptoms of gout include pain and inflammation at the joints usually starting in the big toe.
Not everyone who has high uric acid levels will suffer from gout and there is a genetic disease, Lesch-Nyhan syndrome that affects how the body builds and breaks down purines. Lesch-Nyhan affects only 1 in 380,000 people. Untreated gout usually clears up in 5-7 days, but reoccurrences are common without lifestyle changes.
Guidelines for the level of purines
Few studies exist on the consequences of high uric acid levels that don’t lead to gout. Desirable levels range between 3.4-7 milligrams per deciliter for men and 2.4-6 milligrams per deciliter for women and are not wholly related to purine levels in the diet.
Low purine foods
In most cases switching to a low purine diet is enough. Low purine foods include:
- green vegetable
- fruits and fruit juices
- non-yeast breads
If you suffer from gout relief is not far away…
Once uric acid levels have been brought lowered, either through reduction of purines in the diet or through medication, the body’s systems will clear out the acid crystals.
Let us know what solutions your doctor told you in our comment section.