Anyone who has had the misfortune to suffer from a gout attack will tell you how excruciatingly painful it is, and it can be very difficult to treat. However, it is avoidable with a monitored diet. One question which comes up time and time again with regard to this is; does alcohol cause gout?
To truly understand if alcohol causes gout, let’s look at the condition itself.
Gout is a form or arthritis, tiny crystals form around the joints, in the hands and feet in particular. Swelling occurs, as does a great deal of discomfort.
A gout attack can come on suddenly, often overnight. The crystals are a by-product of uric acid, which is a chemical produced by the body to break down purines.
Foods such as offal, oily fish, seafood, game, yeast extract (such as Marmite and Bovril), as well as beer, stout and port, are all very high in purines, so if any of these are your tipple of choice, then the answer to “does alcohol cause gout”, is that it is probably a major factor.
So what alcohol can you drink with gout? Wine, spirits, and champagne are for the most part free from purines, with darker alcohols like beer stout and port containing higher levels, however although drinks like beer may be the worst drink for gout in terms of purines, the truth is any alcoholic drink can cause a flare up. The reason for this is that when alcohol enters the kidneys, the kidneys excrete it, instead of uric acid and this alone can cause a build-up of uric acid and result in a higher likelihood of crystals forming in the joints. So it’s all about moderation when it comes to drinking alcohol.
There is some good news for beer drinkers though. Gout is becoming more and more common, and some people have labelled purines as the ‘new gluten’. So purine free, or low purine beers are starting to hit the market. It is also important to add, that if you enjoy beer, being susceptible to gout doesn’t mean that you have to abstain completely. I must add that I say this from a personal view, not a medical one.
I suffer from occasional gout attacks. Probably one every two years. In my case, always in my big toe, and it is always agony. So much so that even a cotton sheet resting on my toe is simply too much to bear. Though I can still enjoy a few cold beers two or three times a week, but on those days I make sure that I drink at least two litres of water. The consumption of water serves not only as a joint lubricant, but is a great way to stave off a gout attack. I also try to avoid the foods which are high in purines, but even then I don’t abstain completely. I enjoy sardines on toast far too much to do that. The same goes for liver and bacon. The trick is, and this will come as no surprise, do it all in moderation. Another thing that will help is to exercise, as it naturally helps to reduce the amount of uric acid in the body.
However if you are prone to attacks the gout attack may still occur even with precautions. So how can you best make sure it goes away quickly?
Non-prescription painkillers don’t really help, as what needs to happen to stop the discomfort is for the crystals to dissipate and disappear. For this to happen you need an active ingredient that will do this. Cherries are reputed to help, as does cider vinegar and baking soda (is there anything baking soda doesn’t do?). Another is celery seed tea, though I’ve tried that and the taste was nearly as bad as the pain!
Gout treatment has moved on vastly in the past few years and natural, herbal remedies have appeared. I haven’t tried them all, but the ones I have tried have been miraculous. I don’t use that word lightly, either treatments like Uriciplex in particular are fantastic at both relieving and preventing gout altogether.
I’ve spoken to many other gout victims in the past, and there is very much two camps of different opinion.
- The ones that haven’t used any proven remedies and complain that nothing works.
- The ones that do and swear by the results they have got.
But it’s important that you don’t wait for an attack to hit you – though remedies like Uriciplex will still alleviate the pain quicker than eating cherries or drinking cider vinegar. The best way to eradicate gout is to take these supplements daily, or if you’re a very occasional sufferer, start taking them as soon as you have the slightest inclination that an attack is on its way.
So, back to the original question of ‘does alcohol cause gout’?
It depends on what alcohol you are drinking, and if it’s beer, port or stout, then it almost certainly contributes. If it is wine and spirits, no purines but it can also have a knock on effect to a sufferer.
To sum up, try to avoid overindulging in purine rich foods and drinks, try to drink at least two litres of water a day, take regular exercise. And if you fancy a drink, remember to do it moderately and maybe opt a glass of wine instead of a beer. Or any low purine alcohol.
Also try a herbal remedy. Gout differs from person to person so what works for one, may not work so well for another, but in my experience Uriciplex is effective at helping the majority of sufferers.