Although there are many factors that can contribute to a build up of uric acid within your system, alcohol consumption appears to be a leading factor in gout development. However, this doesn’t mean that people who drink alcohol modestly on a regular basis will develop gout. Furthermore, research has discovered that different types of alcoholic beverages have different impacts on uric acid levels.
For hundreds of years, medical researchers have suspected that gout is linked to specific lifestyles such as diets high in red meat, salt and alcohol, combined with little to no exercise. This type of lifestyle, which many people in Western countries tend to adopt as they become older and closer to middle age, is very much like the lifestyle that was once led by English kings. In fact, gout is often called “the disease of kings”.
Today, researchers that have conducted studies on men in relation to alcohol consumption and its link to gout, have found that men who drank excessive amounts of certain forms of alcohol – especially beer – greatly increased their risk for developing gout.
What has been discovered is alcohol may not only affect the production of uric acid, but also its removal from the body. It appears that when alcohol is changed into lactic acid, it decreases the quantity of uric acid that the kidneys are able to remove from the body. The reason is because uric acid has to compete with the lactic acid in order to be removed by the kidneys.
In addition, researchers have found that certain types of alcohol have less risk of causing gout than others. Of all the alcohols studied, it appears that Beer poses the highest risk of gout, while moderate consumption of wine or spirits has little to no increased risk of gout.
What’s so risky about beer? Some researchers believe that beer has a non-alcoholic ingredient that makes the increase of gout even higher than other alcoholic beverages. Beer is apparently the only alcoholic beverage to include purines, and an excessive amount of purines in the system can lead to higher production of uric acid. Conversely, other researchers do not believe it is the purines in the drink that increase the risk of gout. These researchers don’t believe that having too many purines in the diet increase the risk of gout. Their reasoning is based on a study that was conducted on vegetarians from Taiwan who indulged in a diet that was high in purines. The study revealed that theses individuals actually had a lower risk of developing gout.
So, if it’s not the purines in beer then what is it? Some experts have a hunch that excessive beer drinkers have a higher risk in contracting gout due to their lifestyle. For instance, a person who drinks wine usually has their alcoholic beverage with a meal, or with healthy snacks such as fruits, vegetables, crackers and cheese. A beer drinker, on the other hand, will often indulge in eating salty and fatty snacks such as peanuts and chips, while they sit and watch TV on the couch hour after hour. Thus, enthusiastic beer drinkers are likely to have a more sedentary lifestyle.
Regardless of the alcohol beverage you enjoy, you can dramatically reduce your risk of developing gout by drinking modestly (i.e. a glass of wine or beer per day). Overindulging in alcohol on occasion isn’t going to have a dramatic effect on your chances of getting gout, but regular overindulgence may eventually lead to a serious pain in the big toe.
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