How are Alcohol and Gout Related
Hot on the heels of my reader's message that led to My Gout Diet Plan, came a message about alcohol and gout.
I've been sitting on the fence about this for too long. Time to make a stand for alcohol. Or at least seek better information from people who know better - maybe you!
One of my first GoutPal.com pages was about the effects of alcohol. I'm not saying I know everything about gout now, but I knew a lot less then. Not that there is anything wrong with what I said. The main problem for me was including it in my Gout Causes section. At the time, I'd been led to believe that alcohol causes gout. I doubted it then, and I doubt it more now.
I looked at a lot of research, studies and reports about alcohol and gout. I wrote that I would summarize these. But I remained confused. I put things on the back burner until I got this message:
of ALL major types of alcohol which can i consume with the LEAST adverse affects. (i.e. vodka, gin, rum, all whiskeys, wines, beers, liquors, assorted cocktails, shots, etc. etc. etc. can't i have ANYTHING at all? I know high sulfite content is BAD. SOOOO many conflicting answers, studies show beer the worst then liquor then wine..WHAT!!! wine has the HIGHEST sulfite content of ALL three? I'm totally confused here!!!!white wine okay, white wine bad, etc. etc.
Now I haven't had time to look at sulfite and gout - that's for another time. I have had a little think about alcohol. I know how alcohol affects me. I know how alcohol affects my gout. I think it's time for a bit of controversy.
My Alcohol and Gout Theory
Alcohol has very little to do with gout. It's easy to fall into the trap of getting hung up on it. Most doctors tell you alcohol is bad for you, and you end up feeling guilty. Now I'm not advocating alcohol abuse, but I can definitely see from my experience that alcohol has some positive effects.
I find it lifts my mood - important to me when I'm feeling a bit down with the pain of a gout attack.
I find it helps gout attacks to resolve quicker. I drink mainly beer, and I find that after a few pints the swelling goes down and the pain gets less.
Now these are both short term benefits. The downsides of alcohol probably come later, but unless you're drinking excessively, they are beatable.
I do not recommend neat spirit. Spirit with a still mixer is, I think, better than fizzy mixers. Wine and beer should be OK. There's very little more than alcohol and water in most drinks, so it's not worth getting hung up over. In theory, red wine has more health giving trace elements than other drinks, so it should be preferred, but I don't think it's critical.
The first downside is dehydration. There's only one answer to this - drink water. You may have seen my page on water and gout. Keeping hydrated is very important for managing gout. If you get into the water habit, you should never suffer from alcohol-induced dehydration. Make sure you drink water after alcohol, and drink more if you wake through the night.
The second downside is weight gain. You have to manage this over a week, not a night. If you're overweight, aim to balance your diet to loose one or two pounds a week. No more. If you're not overweight, try to maintain a fairly even weight. Managing your weight includes looking at calorie intake, exercise and metabolism. My soon-to-be-launched Gout Diet Plan will cover this in more detail.
There is a risk that alcohol can affect kidney function. Regular water drinking should more than compensate for this. I recommend kidney function tests as a normal part of health checks. Your health care provider should advise the interval.
All in all, I'd say stop reading the studies, and get drinking! Do it sensibly, and if anyone says alcohol causes gout, please ask them for me - How?
Your Thoughts On Alcohol And Gout
I've come to the conclusion that a lot of "scientific evidence" about alcohol and gout is worthless. Alcohol is to be enjoyed as part of a healthy social life, not studied in a lab. I'm much more interested in the practical aspects of living with gout. Deciliters of blood, and micrograms of alcohol, don't interest me.
Please read the Gout And Alcohol guidelines. If you still have questions, please ask in the gout support forum.