Gout and Alcohol (Especially Beer!) Is a Bad Idea

Quincy AdamGout Lifestyle

Diabetes Drinking Alcohol
The link between gout and alcohol consumption is well known, and as a rule of thumb individuals at risk for gout or who are trying to manage symptoms are advised to stay away from alcohol whenever possible. The biggest culprit of the alcoholic drinks, it seems, is beer. In order to understand how beer consumption affects gout, you need to understand the compounds which cause gout to flare up.

Gout is caused by a build-up of uric acid in the blood, which forms crystals. These crystals then travel to the joints, causing inflammation, redness and pain. Foods and beverages containing the highest concentration of compounds which cause the creation of uric acid, known as purines, should therefore be avoided.

And if there’s one beverage that’s high in purines, it’s beer, as brewer’s yeast contains a high concentration of the compound. This is why doctors advise patients with gout to avoid it.

Beer, specifically, also reduces the amount of uric acid that the kidneys excrete, which can also increase your risks.1

However, although beer is generally counted on that “avoid whenever possible” list, this doesn’t mean that every other type of alcoholic beverage gets a green light. Quite the contrary, as the presence of purine in all alcohol can cause an increase in uric acid, and hence trigger a gout attack.

Alcohol, especially this popular brew, has been linked with an increase in attacks, giving gout sufferers a strong reason to avoid it. In general, recommendations suggest that you should limit alcohol intake to less than 1 drink daily for women and 2 drinks daily for men,2 especially beer, and no alcohol if you have poorly controlled symptoms, or are in the midst of an attack.3 If you suffer, you should be very cautious about drinking beer. But check with your doctor on this, as alcohol may also not mix with some of the medications you are on too.

It’s important to remember the way all types of alcohol can dehydrate the body, as dehydration is another gout trigger; the kidneys need water to flush out excess uric acid. So all types of alcohol should be considered on the “no-no” list, as their consumption can lead to uric acid imbalances. And all types of alcohol should be on the “not at all” list during a flare up of the disease. Counterbalancing alcohol and beer’s dehydrating effects with plenty of water could be helpful, but most gout sufferers would likely agree that the potential pain of a symptom flare-up simply isn’t worth it.

It’s clear that gout and alcohol don’t mix if gout sufferers are looking to keep themselves out of pain. In fact, drinking plenty of water is what’s advised for all individuals with gout. Not only will this help avoid consuming purine without intending to, it also keeps the body flushing out impurities – including excess uric acid. So the next time you’re out with friends, consider choosing a club soda with lime instead of alcohol. Odds are, you’ll be glad you did.

1,3 “Managing a Gout Attack.” http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/gout/articles/how-to-stop-a-gout-attack.php. Accessed May 10, 2016.
2 “Gout Self-Care.” http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/gout/self-care.php. Accessed May 10, 2016.