Purine Rich Foods: Is Alcohol High In Purines?

purine rich foodsPurines are chemical compounds found in some foods and beverages. These organic chemicals break down into uric acid, a waste product delivered in the blood. Uric acid normally passes through the kidneys and is eliminated from the body in urine.

Purine rich foods and beverages can raise uric acid levels.

Excess uric acid can build up in a joint and cause a painful form of arthritis called gout. People who suffer from gout experience severe, sudden attacks in one or more joints. The redness, pain and tenderness usually affects a joint in the big toe.

While women can get gout, the arthritic condition is more common in men. The treatment usually involves medications, but people can control gout by avoiding or limiting purine rich foods.

Certain foods increase the gout risk, while others may lower it. Animal based foods pose the highest threat. A study published in the “New England Journal of Medicine” found that purines in plant foods create very little risk.

To guard against gout attacks, men should avoid purine rich foods like meat and seafood. Liver, kidneys and other organ meats are particularly high in purines. Beef, pork, bacon, lamb and game meats are contain high levels. Anchovies, herring, mackerel, sardines and scallops are other purine rich foods to avoid.

Fish, seafood other than those mentioned, oatmeal and wheat bran will not raise gout risk as long as they are eaten on occasion. The safest foods are those that are low in purines: vegetables, fruits, cheese, eggs, nuts and breads that are not whole-grain. Dairy foods, such as low-fat milk and yogurt, may actually lower the risk of gout.

Is beer and other alcohol high in purines? According to the Arthritis Foundation, it is. In fact, all types of alcoholic beverages have high purine levels. Beer and grain alcohol have particularly high amounts, but wine also contains these chemical compounds.

Beer has long been associated with gout attacks, and the Mayo Clinic recommends avoidance during gout flare-ups. Wine is a safer alternative when taken in moderation. Most people can drink a couple of five-ounce servings per day when they are not experiencing a gout attack. The purines in wine do not significantly increase gout risk.

Most alcoholic beverages hinder the ability to eliminate uric acid and should be avoided by people who suffer from gout. Several eight-ounce glasses of water taken each day can help flush out the excess to discourage buildup in the joints.

Gout is a painful condition but, fortunately, it is treatable. By avoiding purine rich foods and beverages, most people can protect themselves from a gout attack and reduce the risk of recurrence.


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