If you’ve ever suffered from kidney stones due to high uric acid levels, then you know just how excruciating the conditions can be—and if you haven’t, then we’ll spare you the gruesome details! With that being said, kidney stones are tame compared to some of the other conditions that can be caused by this build-up, namely gout.

Luckily, these painful and potentially immobilizing ailments can be prevented by following a simple, healthy, low-purine diet. Here are 9 dos and don’ts for stopping high uric acid levels in their tracks.

  1. Reduce meat intake

    baconKim Ahlstrom via Flickr

    Especially red meats high in purine, like organ, glandular meats, and fatty cuts (i.e. bacon). As far as fish goes, do your best to stay away from shellfish, specifically mussels and scallops, as well as swimmers, like anchovies, herring, sardines, trout, haddock, mackerel, and tuna.

    If you’re a carnivore through and through, sub out your red meats and fish for lean chicken and turkey.

  2. Lay off the cerveza

    beerQuinn Dombrowski via Flickr

    If you’ve ever been diagnosed with gout, we are sure that one of the first things your doc told you to do is lay off the beer! Studies have shown that people who consume 2 or more beers per day are 200% more likely to get sick than those who don’t.

    While there is some chatter that other forms of alcohol are fine to drink on gout diets, most doctors are wary of this sentiment, as increased sugar intake (something that’s relatively unavoidable when it comes to drinking) has been known to up uric acid levels.

  3. Peel some fruit

    applesEli Duke via Flickr

    Most all fruit makes for healthy, low-purine snacks. While a gout diet doesn’t necessarily call for MORE fruit, it’s important for patients to get their recommended intake. The only exception to the fruit rule is the super sugary dried variety, like raisins and dates that have gone through curing processes.

  4. Eggs are your friends

    basket of brown eggs with raw eggklsbear

    These incredible, edible guys serve as filling substitutes for the red meat and fish that you may be missing on your low purine diet. When it comes to cooking them, poaching is definitely the way to go!

  5. Indulge in chocolate

    dark chocolateUrban Wired via Flickr

    Believe it or not, dark chocolate that has a 35% cocoa content or higher is chock-full of antioxidants that work to dissolve uric acid build-up. How sweet is that?!

  6. Wake up with coffee

    cup of coffeeWikimedia Commons

    Yet another indulgence that is actually good for you, 1 or 2 cups of black coffee per day (or any variety that is low in sugar) has actually been shown to decrease the risk of gout in a person’s lifetime. It goes without saying that caffeine intake is not suitable for everyone, so be sure to speak to your doctor about your coffee habits first.

  7. Got milk?

    milkWorld’s Direction via Flickr

    For years, experts have been prescribing skim milk to their gout patients, and for good reason—studies have shown that a glass of non-fat milk can make uric acid levels in the blood drop 10% almost immediately.

  8. You can’t beat yogurt

    Woman Eating YogurtDepositPhotos

    Low-fat yogurt is yet another dairy product that is effective in helping to reduce harmful uric acid. If you’re not a fan of the creamy stuff, then try your best to focus on eating foods from this list that are high in Vitamin D (i.e. eggs).

  9. Cherry juice is best

    cherry juiceAnssi Koskinen via Flickr

    A study conducted at the Boston University Medical Center found that gout patients who ate the equivalent of 10 cherries per day were 50% less likely to fall victim to a future attack. Because cherries are expensive—and hard to find most of year—we recommend gulping it down in juice form.

We’ve gotta say, that list doesn’t seem half-bad! Further proof that a healthy, balanced diet is the way to go.

Now that you know how your diet can affect uric acid build-up, we’d like to hear from you. Have you been diagnosed with kidney stones, gout, or gouty arthritis? If so, what was your doc’s advice? Do you know of any other ways you can bring uric acid levels down?