Does Drinking Alcohol Give You Gout?
Alcohol is bad for gout. It’s so bad that it may be a major contributing factor to the onset of gout.
Alcohol dehydrates you and therefore your kidneys, which are responsible for eliminating purines from the body. Then there are fast carbs which spikes insulin. As far as the effect on insulin, beer spikes insulin at a very similar rate to modern soft-drinks.
It’s been known since the 1960’s that sugar intake increases purines within the body. You are taking a 1-2 punch right to the toe (or wherever your gout flares) each and every time you take a drink of any alcohol.
Here comes the uppercut for the knockout. Beer, and most alcoholic drinks are packed with purines.
Granted, some are supposedly worse than others, but no version is good, or even neutral, it is bad for people who have gout and there are no exceptions to this statement.
Common Causes of Gout
Hyperuricemia or high levels of uric acid in the blood is the most common cause of gout. This can be diet related or genetic. It can also be caused by one of the two reasons mentioned below :
- Increased production of uric acid, such as hemolytic anemia, leukemia, excessive exercise or psoriasis
- Reduced excretion of uric acid, such as lead induced nephropathy, chronic renal disease, diabetic ketoacidosis and kidney damage
The question most never ask is why these levels become too high or too low in the first place.
I asked these questions that professionals like doctors and scientist never seem to ask. Mine was more specific to gout, so mine is what is causing high levels of purines and uric acid in the first place.
We will cover this question in my final thoughts at the bottom of this page.
What Kind of Foods Trigger A Gout Attack?
There are many beverages and foods that cause high levels of uric acid in the bloodstream.
Some of the most common ones include excessive amounts of alcohol, especially strong beer and red wine, asparagus, soft drinks, coffee, anchovies, legumes, mushrooms, and meats, especially shellfish and organ meats according to main stream medicine.
The fact is scientist have admitted for years that they can’t accurately measure the purines in foods. Then there is a scientific study and the leader of that study stated: “The purine content of the diet does not usually contribute more than 1 mg/dl to the serum urate concentration…” [Emmerson 1996].
We will revisit this later.
Gout can also be caused by other things. Some of these include injury, surgery, stress, rapid weight loss, deficiency of Vitamin B5, use of antibiotics, chemotherapy, and deficiency of several nutrients. Any major cause of potassium loss, such as fasting, diuretic use, and surgery can also trigger gout.
Effects of Alcohol
A lot of men who indulge in alcohol, especially beer, can double their risk of developing gout. Researchers have known about the link between gout and alcohol for many years through anecdotal evidence. Recent studies have been able to verify this connection.
It is important to understand that gout is a kind of severe arthritis, marked by severe inflammation and pain in the joints. Moreover, gout outbreaks strike suddenly, without any prior warning. Some severe instances of gout may lead to major health problems, and even kidney failure. Men are more prone to developing gout than women. However, this difference is less dramatic among elderly people.
According to researchers, both environmental and hereditary factors can cause gout. Alcohol consumption is one of the major causes of gout. In the past 30 years, many studies have reported that regular alcohol consumption increases the likelihood of suffering from gout.
Many patients report the link between gout and alcohol consumption. You can get gout attacks triggered by purines. A lot of patients report suffering from gout attacks either on the night of alcohol consumption or after a couple of days from having drinks. In such cases, even medications don’t help treat the problem. Therefore, it is important to drastically reduce your intake of alcohol.
According to studies, strong beer and wine are more likely to cause a gout outbreak than other kinds of alcoholic drinks. As mentioned earlier, many studies have verified these claims. In this post, we’ve also discussed a study that establishes the link between gout attacks and consumption of alcohol.
According to a study published in the renowned Lancet Medical Journal, researchers studied a sample of 47,000 male medical professionals. They did not have a history of gout outbreaks for about 12 years. By the end of this study, more than 2% men had experienced gout attacks. Men who consumed alcohol on a daily basis had twice the risk of suffering from this condition than men who didn’t consume alcohol regularly.
Drinking beer increased the risk of gout attacks by almost 50% for every serving on a daily basis. On the other hand, men who drank hard liquor increased the risk of suffering from gout attacks by almost 15% for every drink. Men who consumed red wine didn’t experience increased risk in suffering from gout attacks. However, since only few men consumed more than 2 glasses of wine per day, these results are not conclusive, but provide some insight.
According to researchers, beer consumption can and does lead to gout attacks. The stated primary reason is the high purine content of alcoholic beverages. During the process of digestion, purine compound breaks down to create uric acid. Normally, urate or uric acid leaves your body through urine.
However, if your kidneys are not able to process high levels of uric acid, it creates a wide range of health problems. Excess uric acid in the body can form crystal deposits in your joints. These deposits are the primary cause of gout.
Some powerful medications are available in the market to treat gout, but come with some potentially dangerous side effects. But it makes real sense to reduce your risk of suffering from the condition in the first place. When you avoid regular or excessive consumption of alcohol, you’re able to lessen gout attacks and the length of their duration.
Besides avoiding alcohol, you can also take other steps to prevent and treat gout. For instance, meeting your daily recommended intake of potassium makes sure you’re able to take a bite out of gout, and improve your overall health.
These days, you can choose from a wide range of supplements to prevent gout. Most of these supplements also aim to prevent nutritional deficiencies to improve your health and well being. However, you should look for the best supplements to treat your problem. Make sure they are sugar free and actually contain what the merchant claims the product does.
I am not too big on single solutions because I believe that your total overall diet is the root of the problem.
There are foods that slightly increase and decrease purine levels in the body, but most are nominal in nature and the max any food increases or decreases purine levels is about 10% and it’s not organ meats, red meat, nor seafood that has the largest sway in purine levels.
Dairy, whole milk, cheese and such drops your purines by 10% in an hour and a half. A 16 ounce rib-eye steak does not raise your purines by 10%, neither does most shellfish.
What we need to find out is what is causing the spikes of purines, and I am betting it is more sugars than anything else.
The problem with this science as well as other gout studies is that they are not looking at the root cause as mentioned earlier in this post.
If you can eat a 16 ounce rib-eye and then drink a glass of whole milk with it, you have actually lowered your purines, not increase them, and this doesn’t account for the fact that protein lowers uric acid levels… so the steak cancels out the increase in purines all by itself. Adding milk should push you in the good direction.
This would apply to all meat, foul and fish.
Asparagus does not increase purines 3% total, so why is it considered a trigger?
If meats cause it, why do vegans suffer from gout? Yes, there are thousands and thousands of vegans that have gout and have attacks regularly, even with pharmaceuticals.
There are many other foods that help lower uric acid. Cherries reduce gout issues as well as apple cider vinegar. Pineapple kills gout to some degree because of it’s ingredients. Oatmeal is not that great for gout because of the fast carbs (sugars).
You have to know what is good and what is bad and learn to balance what you eat to keep gout away from you.