Wine and other types of alcohol aren’t the primary cause of gout, but they can increase your risk of gout flare-ups. If you already have gout, it’s best to limit your alcohol (and wine!) consumption to keep painful gout symptoms at bay, especially if you’re in the middle of a flare-up.
What is Gout?
Gout is a painful form of arthritis that usually hits one joint at a time. The most common place to feel it is the metatarsophalangeal joint, or the joint at your big toe, but it can also affect your knees, ankles, and hands.
The main cause of gout is hyperuricemia (too much uric acid in the blood). When uric acid isn’t flushed out naturally, it starts to build up. It can then clump into sharp crystals that attach to your joints, causing gout.
Not-so-fun fact: In addition to inflammatory arthritis, high levels of uric acid can also cause crystals to form around your kidneys and cause kidney stones.
Gout generally affects more men than women, and you’re more likely to suffer from high urate levels and symptoms of gout if you have a close relative with the condition. People on diuretics are also at higher risk for flare-ups.
That all said, your diet can definitely worsen symptoms.
How Alcohol Affects Gout
People with gout should avoid foods and beverages high in purines, including wine. Purines are chemical compounds that boost uric acid production, the very thing you want to avoid when you’re dealing with gout. All types of alcohol, or ethanol, are high in purines.
What are the health risks of drinking wine for people with gout? The primary health risk of drinking wine for people with gout is an increased risk of gout flare-ups.
A gout flare-up is a painful type of arthritis flare-up at the affected joint. During a gout attack, you may feel:
- Sudden, intense pain
- Stiffness, swelling, and tenderness at the joint
- Heat coming from the affected joint
- Red, shiny skin at the joint
- Flaky skin, once symptoms subside
Repeat flare-ups can cause gouty arthritis, a more serious form of the condition.
Does the type of alcohol matter?
The alcohol type doesn’t matter when we’re talking about gout.
Older research suggested wine might be a little easier on the joints compared to beer or hard liquor because of the purported health benefits of wine.
However, newer research says that wine consumption (even the “healthiest” red wine) is just as bad as other types of alcohol in managing gout. All types of alcohol have a high purine content that you should avoid if you want to reduce gout symptoms or are following a gout diet.
Can you drink wine if you have gout? You can drink wine if you have gout, but you really shouldn’t if you’re dealing with active gout flare-ups. Drinking alcohol will increase your risk of more frequent gout attacks.
Instead, stick to non-alcoholic drinks, including alcohol-removed wine!
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How much alcohol is safe to drink with gout?
There is no safe amount of alcohol consumption for people with gout. That’s why lifestyle changes often start with reducing alcohol to both treat gout and reduce your risk of gout attacks.
How much wine can I drink with gout? There is no safe amount of wine that you can drink with gout. Some medical journals suggest limited red wine consumption is safe in some gout patients, but this varies considerably from person to person.
Your metabolism, the severity of your condition, and even your weight all matter if you’re trying to decide whether to have a glass of wine with your meal. Wine and other alcohol can also trigger chronic conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) if you’re sensitive to acid.
The stance on alcohol from the Arthritis Foundation is to drink in moderation, if at all. While some studies show that moderate wine drinking may reduce your risk of developing arthritis, other studies debunk that.
If you already have gout, it’s best to abstain from alcohol, especially if you’re on medications that may be less effective after a few cocktails.
Can you reverse gout by cutting out alcohol?
You can’t reverse gout by cutting out alcohol alone, but a diet that doesn’t include alcohol could go a long way to reducing your gout symptoms. Unfortunately, the genetic component behind gout means some gout sufferers may always be at a higher risk for flare-ups.
The right level of management can make it feel like you’ve cured your gout, though, and prevent symptoms long-term.
Other Ways to Prevent Gout Flare-Ups
Limiting your alcohol intake is just one way to reduce gout flare-ups. To manage existing symptoms and potentially prevent future gout attacks, here are a few more tips:
- Limit purine-rich foods: Dietary advice for gout typically includes limiting high-purine foods. That means all alcoholic beverages, some fish and shellfish, red meats, and organ meats.
- Eat a healthy diet: You’ve cut out the purines. Now, it’s time to consume a diet rich in antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. Boost your vitamin C with your diet or supplements. Avoid too much sugar, especially high fructose corn syrup.
- Stay hydrated: Dehydration is one of the top risk factors for gout attacks, so drinking lots of water is a great idea. Water may also help you balance your serum uric acid levels. When those levels are too high, you’re more likely to have a flare-up.
- Go easy on your joints: Exercise is a great way to manage many chronic health conditions, but if you’re dealing with gout, choose movement that’s easy on the joints. Swimming, walking, and cycling are all great.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Carrying around too much weight is harder on your joints. Obesity may also be a risk factor for gout flare-ups, heart disease, and hypertension. Cutting out alcohol can help you manage your weight and your gout.
- Manage your stress: Stress, tension, and anxiety are more common in gout patients, but more research is needed to see if these concerns trigger gout flare-ups. Either way, your mental health is just as important as your physical health as you manage gout.
- Talk to your doctor: If you’re unable to manage it all on your own, talk to your healthcare provider or rheumatologist. They can help you come up with an individualized gout treatment plan. That may include medications like allopurinol or colchicine.
Enjoy Risk-Free Libations with Non-Alcoholic Wine
The good news is that you can have as much non-alcoholic wine as you want if you have gout!
- Diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of gout
- Use of diuretics and risk of incident gout: a population-based case-control study
- Management and Cure of Gouty Arthritis
- Alcohol quantity and type on risk of recurrent gout attacks: An internet-based case-crossover study
- The association between alcohol consumption and osteoarthritis: a meta-analysis and meta-regression of observational studies
- Gout: optimizing treatment to achieve a disease cure
- Nonpharmacological Management of Gout and Hyperuricemia: Hints for Better Lifestyle
- Incident gout and weight change patterns: a retrospective cohort study of US adults
- Gout, anxiety, and depression in primary care: a matched retrospective cohort study