Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food. ...Hippocrates
Purines are nucleotide bases found in any plant and animal cells. Purines include adenine, guanine, hypoxanthine, and xanthine. Purines, in combination with pyramidines, constitute the genetic codes, DNA and RNA, and energy molecules such as ATP, GTP and coenzyme A. In short, purines are essential constituents of life.
In humans, purine metabolism, to be specific their break-down, in the liver produces uric acid. Even though uric acid acts as an antioxidant and has beneficial effects, such as as a free-radical scavenger, when it accumulates to a high level in the blood it can cause gout and other associated health problems.
Gout is a form of arthritis caused due to accumulation of uric acid crystals in joints, especially in the big toe.
In a 12-year study that followed eating habits and gout incidence in large number of men, it was found that eating food rich in purine, such as meat and seafood, was associated with high risk of gout. Whereas higher level of consumption of dairy products, especially skimmed types, was associated with a reduced risk of gout. Moderate intake of purine-rich vegetables or protein was not associated with an elevated risk of gout. A recent study also found a positive association between fractose, a type of sugar, and sweetened beverages and gout.
According to some studies, a purine-free diet decreases blood uric acid level, on average, from 1.0 to 1.2 mg/100 ml; whereas, consumption of 4 g of ribonucleic acid (RNA), purine, per day, increases blood uric acid level from 1.5 to 2.0 mg /100 ml.
In the following table are estimates of purine content in a variety of food items, presented in descending order. Meat and meat products appear to have high total purine content, where as cereal foods contain low purine content. Generally, there seems to exist a positive association between protein and purine content in diet.
Table 1: High or low purine food sources.
|Food Sources of Purine||Total purine content (mg of purine/100 g food)|
|lamb, roasted, chop||
|Pork, roasted, chop||
|Fish, white, fresh||