The breakdown of foods high in protein into chemicals known as purines are responsible for the production of uric acid in the body. Uric acid is ordinarily excreted in the kidneys, but if there is too much uric acid in the blood or the kidneys are not functioning properly, uric acid lingers in the body disturbing bodily systems and resulting in a variety of side effects.
Common Side Effects
The body goes into a particular state known as huperuricemia as a result of being exposed to an over-abundance of uric acid. A variety of conditions may develop from the body's being in this state such as metabolic acidosis, lead poisoning, diabetes, leukemia, gout, kidney disease or renal failure, toxemia in pregnancy, alcoholism, chemotherapy, according to Drugs.com.
Of all the side effects one can develop from having too much uric acid in the system, gout is by far the most common and one of the most painful. The more animal-based proteins a person eats, the more uric acid is produced through the breakdown of purines, a byproduct of protein digestion, explains the University of Maryland Medical Center. When the excess uric acid is not removed by the kidneys, it forms crystals that end up in the joints of the feet and hands, especially the big toe joint. The crystals are very sharp edged and press on tender tissues beneath the skin causing excruciating pain, inflammation and swelling known as gouty arthritis. Gout is found more commonly in men, but women and teens are developing it due to the high amounts of animal products consumed in the diet.
When a person eats high quantities of proteins that are not properly metabolized, the result is an over-abundance of uric acid in the blood. Generally washed from the body through the kidneys, if excess uric acid is present and can't be properly excreted, a condition known as metabolic acidosis forms, according to MedlinePlus.com. Metabolic acidosis may lead to rapid breathing accompanied by confusion and lethargy, and lead to shock and death. A low-grade, chronic state of acidosis can develop as a result of long-term, ongoing consumption of a high protein diet.
Too much uric acid in the urine can cause urate kidney stones, which are formed when uric acid crystallizes in the kidneys and is deposited there forming various sized stones. The stones may range in size from grains of sand to large chunks that resemble rocks on the ground. These stones get caught in the ureters as the person is attempting to pass urine. This is a serious, extremely painful condition. Once you have had urate kidney stones, you are highly prone to developing them again, according to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh's Renal Unit. If you change your diet and reduce or eliminate the amount of animal protein you consume, your risk for developing new stones is greatly reduced. Those most prone are Caucasian males living in a hot climate, who are between the ages of 30 and 60. They generally have high blood pressure and a family history of kidney stones.