A diet that helps people reduce high blood pressure may also offer a non-drug treatment for gout—a type of inflammatory arthritis, a new study suggests.
The clinical trial included more than 400 people who ate the so-called DASH diet (which features high amounts of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and low amounts of fats and saturated fats), or a typical American diet.
Along with lowering blood pressure, the DASH diet also significantly lowers levels of uric acid. Uric acid crystals are known to cause gout, the Arthritis Foundation says.
The DASH diet’s effect for some people with gout was so strong that it nearly matched the effectiveness of drugs normally used to treat the painful condition, the study authors said.
The findings suggest that dietary changes could offer an effective and safe way to lower uric acid levels. That would possibly prevent gout flare-ups for people with mild to moderate gout who can’t or don’t want to take gout drugs, the researchers explained.
“Results of this trial are good news to patients with high blood levels of uric acid or those at risk for gout. A dietary approach to prevent gout should be considered first-line therapy,” said study senior author Dr. Edgar Miller III. He is a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.
“This study suggests that standard dietary advice for uric acid reduction—which is to reduce alcohol and protein intake—should now include advice to adopt the DASH diet,” Miller said in a university news release.
The study was published in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatology.
Gout affects 8.3 million people in the United States. The disorder costs the U.S. health care system about $7.7 billion, the researchers said.