What is Uric Acid? Omar Grant May 14, 2015 Diseases A lot of people associate uric acid with gout and kidney diseases. Uric acid is commonly described as the by-product of purine that flows through the blood and is filtered by the kidneys and flushed out from the body through urination. Purine can be obtained from food and drinks, and even from natural cells from the body. Some food items contain more purine than others. When uric acid level of the body reaches above the normal rate, the condition is called hyperuricemia. But really, what is uric acid? During the natural process of uric acid, it forms into ions and salts known as urates and acid urates. Uric acids are white, odourless and tasteless substances. They are very weak organic acids that are barely soluble in water and insoluble in alcohol and ether. Good and Bad Uric Acid Despite the many negative connotations associated with uric acid, it actually has a desirable function for the body. Uric acid, when present in the body at normal levels, is a very powerful antioxidant. An antioxidant is essential in making sure that free radicals do not reach certain components of the body, such as DNA or cell membranes, and prevent a chain reaction of damages. In this case, uric acid as an antioxidant is known to improve lifespan and prevent aging. Uric acid also prevents oxygenation of lipids in the bloodstream, thus preventing it from destroying organs, bones, muscles and tissues. As an antioxidant, it helps prevent heart diseases from occurring and inhibits formation of cancerous tumors. Image credit: www.chm.bris.ac.uk However, due to lifestyle, uric acid is known to do more harm than good since a lot of people are unable to eat a balance diet that soon leads to excessive amounts of uric acid in the body. While the normal level of uric acid in the body should only be at 7mg/dL for the average man, risks occur when uric acid starts to circulate the body in excess. These risks include the highly associated type of arthritis with high uric acid, known as gout. This is when needle-like crystals form in the joints resulting to swelling and pain. Chronic kidney diseases also start to manifest, such as formation of kidney stones and kidney failure. Uric acid is an inevitable part of the human body that is supposed to function for its benefit. However, everything in excess is never good. That is why people having gout and kidney problems should start reassessing lifestyles, especially eating habits. Meals should start excluding foods that lead to high uric acid levels such as organ meats, anchovies, meat of wild games, and alcoholic beverages like beer. What the diet should include now are food items low in uric acid or those that help lower uric acid levels of the body. These include milk, eggs, tofu, fruits and fruit juices, and an increase in water intake. If diet alone cannot eliminate the symptoms of high uric acid level, a doctor should be sought. They can provide drugs that help minimize the uric acid flowing through the body either by blocking further production or by increasing uric acid elimination from the body.