Normally, when we hear of uric acid, the first thing we think of is Gout, the buildup of urate crystals in distal parts of the body. In this scenario, uric acid is being produced faster than it can be removed, so the body decides to store the excess in distal areas of the body. This becomes a painful predicament for the afflicted individual.
Often, we see Gout correspond with other conditions like hypertension, heart disease, visceral obesity, dyslipidemia, and insulin resistance. These chronic diseases are rampant in modern society and play intricate roles in our morbidity and mortality risks. Chronic, uncontrolled inflammation is at the heart of the issue, no pun intended. However, there is another side to uric acid that many people have not heard about. Like I said, it is controversial, but uric acid may be one of our key antioxidants.
Let me take you on a trip through our evolutionary past. A primate ancestor of our species lived in an environment with abundant fruit. As we know, many fruits provide ample amounts of Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, which helps us to neutralize some of our free radicals. Since we were getting so much Vitamin C from our diet, a gene mutation occurred in which Vitamin C production was eliminated. Then the environment changed, possibly an ice age developed, and the amount of available fruit was now minimal. So, now our primate ancestor has two major dilemmas, low calorie consumption and lower amounts of circulating antioxidants. Fructose becomes a major signaling molecule for the body which when consumed, tells adipose cells deep within the viscera to store energy instead of burning it. The resolution to the antioxidant situation is a mutation that removes the enzyme uricase, halting purine degradation at uric acid. Uric acid, it appears, is a major antioxidant within the plasma and in hydrophilic solutions (water-friendly). However, it can also become a prooxidant in certain situations, very similar to Vitamin E.
Uric acid is highly effective at scavenging free radicals in the bloodstream and seems to mitigate oxidative stress throughout the central nervous system, limiting the development of conditions like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and acute stroke. When free radicals build up and release into the blood, uric acid is highly effective at reducing them, until the system is overwhelmed. Then uric acid will accumulate, and our bodies will have a difficult time eliminating it. Also, it appears that uric acid needs other vitamins and minerals around to exert its antioxidant effects, including ascorbic acid and folate. On the surface, this seems contradictory to the evolutionary theory, but perhaps only small amounts of ascorbic acid are needed which can still be obtained from the environment.
Uric acid can become a pro-oxidant as well, typically in hydrophobic milieu, where lipids tend to oxidize it and produce more free radicals. As a person gains more body fat, especially visceral adiposity, it would make sense that uric acid would exert more pro-oxidant effects than antioxidant effects. Doesn’t it always seem that human biochemistry is way more complex than we try to make it?
The story of uric acid reminds me of the cholesterol situation, where our myopic view of a complex situation leads us astray. For a long time, our understanding was that cholesterol was the main driver of atherosclerosis and heart disease since it was always at the scene of the crime. Now, we know that it is a short-term strategy by the body to heal the damage, not realizing that more onslaught is on its way. I wonder how many other theories that we take for granted will someday be scoffed at by the future scientific community. Perhaps, the idea that viruses are capricious little rascals hellbent on destruction will soon be reevaluated. Uric acid has become a scapegoat and a target for pharmaceutical drugs, although, in reality, it is the byproduct of a system under siege.
So, what do you do if your joints are starting to be ravaged by this metabolic destruction? The main thing is to eliminate fructose in all of its forms, especially high-fructose corn syrup. Like mentioned earlier, fructose is all about storing energy in the form of body fat. This fat will begin accumulating in your liver which will limit your main detoxification organ. Hence, more trouble with removing uric acid and subsequently, more free radicals produced by the metabolically active body fat stores, which ramps up more uric acid production. Yes, you can limit your high purine foods like bacon and sardines but consider that the cherry on top since it will only move the needle slightly. You would also want to have an intact gut lining, healthy microbiome, open detox pathways, low toxicity, adequate sleep, and proper weight loss strategies. We are always here to help when you are ready. We are now working closely with a great health coach who understands the nuances that our patients face along their healing journeys.
If you would like assistance on your health journey and are fed up with the conventional medical model, then contact our office at (727) 789-4020 and Janine will get you all set up for your initial consultation. I look forward to meeting you and helping you to be your best self. We dedicate as much time as needed to get you back on track.