DASH diet is not just good for hypertension but also for gout, says a new study from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Reducing serum uric acid levels up to 0.35 mg/Dl, researchers have found that DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is just as effective as anti-hyperuricemic drug therapy.

The team of researchers carried out a trial in 103 adult hypertensive participants in which the DASH diet was intervened to half of the individuals for a period of 30 days before switching to the other DASH diet consisting of low, medium and high sodium levels for a month. The findings shed light on a very interesting point: the participants upon consuming a low level of sodium (-0.53 mg/dL) or a medium level of sodium intake (-0.56 mg/dL) while on DASH showed less reductions in uric acid levels but with a DASH diet plus high sodium intake (-0.33 mg/dL), more significant reductions were recorded.

It was also observed that the individuals who had high serum uric acid levels underwent a more significant decrease in uric acid levels with each intervention phase. Individuals who had the highest baseline uric acid levels of more than 7 milligrams per deciliter showed decrease of 1.3 milligrams per deciliter. The findings were also published in Arthritis & Rheumatology, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR). The news was also covered by the BMJ.

Edgar R Miller III, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the senior author of the study, said, “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. 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.”

Although it was observed that high sodium levels appear to decrease uric acid concentrations and can prevent gout, the researchers recommend against consuming large amounts of sodium, especially for hypertensive or pre-hypertensive individuals. According to them more than 70% of people with gout have high blood pressure and in the quest to reduce uric acid level, there are chances of increase in blood pressure . “If one was to consume more sodium to improve uric acid, it could worsen blood pressure,” says Stephen Juraschek, the lead researcher.

Moreover, he believes that these findings direct towards potential of DASH diet in reducing uric acid levels through a ‘non-pharmacological approach’ in order to prevent gout. DASH dietary intervention led to reduction of uric acid levels without medication, and proved to be slightly more effective than the medications used for lowering uric acid.

DASH is diet plan that was originally designed to lower blood pressure levels in the pre-hypertensive or hypertension phase-I individuals without the use of medication even with sodium intake of 3,300 mg/day. It was developed as a result of research project sponsored by the US National Institutes of Health.

It consists of foods that are rich in whole grains, fruit, vegetables, fish, poultry, nuts, beans, seeds, low fat dairy foods and prevents the use of red meat, saturated fats and sugar. Moreover, the foods that are rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium and fiber are a part of DASH.

The Dietary Guidelines for American by the US Department of Health and Human Services and US Department of Agriculture also endorse the DASH diet due to its benefits for all approach. They say that it is a healthy eating model that is fit for all age groups and specifically for hypertensive individuals. Moreover, DASH is good for providing heart-healthy benefits such as reduced level of blood pressure and inflammation. The DASH diet focuses on portion size, consuming a wide variety of foods and obtaining proper amounts of nutrients.

According to CDC, gout, an inflammatory disease of the joints, affects more than 8.3 million individuals in the US and is caused by the deposition of uric acid crystals in tissues and fluids within the body due to overproduction or under-excretion of uric acid. It is a form of arthritis that manifests itself by swollen joints followed by excruciating pain. The most common causes of gout are unhealthy fatty foods, alcohol or might be the side effect of other medications used for treating other problems. The most common treatment options for gout include oral anti-inflammatory medicines and sometimes can be prevented with medication and dietary changes aimed at reducing uric acid levels in blood.