Red wine: does it really cause gout?

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Suffered by Leonardo da Vinci, Charles Darwin and King Henry VIII, gout – or the ‘disease of kings’ – is associated with rich living and red wine. But does red wine cause gout?

Gout is a form of arthritis caused by too much uric acid in the body. Uric acid is produced to break down the ‘purines’, present in all food. If your kidneys don’t process uric acid effectively, purine can form as crystals in the joints, causing severe pain, particularly in the big toe, but also in the instep, heel, ankle, knee, wrist, finger and elbow. Other symptoms include: painful swelling and red skin around the joint, mild fever and firm white lumps beneath the skin.

No one really knows why some people develop gout and others don’t. You will be more likely to suffer if you are a man aged 40 to 65 (women are less likely to suffer), have a family history of the disease, have kidney disease, are overweight, eat a diet that contains high levels of purines, have high blood pressure, or have injured a joint.

Although all food contains purines, some foods have concentrated amounts, including alcohol. Beer and spirits contain more purines than red wine. So if you are at high risk for the disease, it could be worth avoiding the following:

  • alcohol (beer has the highest purine content of all alcohol)
  • red meat
  • fish and seafood
  • vegetables such as asparagus, cauliflower, peas and lentils.

Onset of gout can be sudden and it can be incredibly painful. Left untreated, gout attacks may become frequent and long lasting.

What can you do if you have a flare-up? There are a number of steps that you can take, such as:

  • eat a diet rich in vitamin C (citrus, for example) and complex carbohydrates
  • try eating half a cup of cherries once or twice a day and drink coffee (these foods have been shown to decrease symptoms)
  • avoid vigorous physical activity
  • keep your joint cool
  • apply ice wrapped in a towel to your joint for about 20 minutes to help reduce swelling (avoid placing ice directly on your skin); if you need to repeat this, let your joint return to its normal temperature first
  • wear a splint, which you can get from your doctor, to stop you moving your joint
  • take medicines prescribed by your doctor.

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Written by Alice Bell

23 Comments

Total Comments: 23
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    Interesting. I read many years ago that gout was particularly prevalent in old people who drank port out of lead crystal containers. The prevailing suggestion was that the lead was leaching out and contributed to the ailment. Maybe that is an old wive’s tale.
    The cure of a cup of cherries twice a day sounds wonderful but anybody seen how much cherries are these days? Not for most retirees methinks. The citrus is good though.

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      Sour cherries are available in a jar and a few a day is supposed to work magic. Mind you, the jars are so hard to open that it actually hurts the hands more than it cures.
      Friends of mine swear by it but I found it did nothing.

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      Cherries – $25 kg at the moment. I watched a ditti on the ABC this morning saying there is a glut of cherries and we aren’t eating them so they are going to export and get the same amount.
      There is only a glut because the price per kg is so high. I was hoping the prices would come down but apparently that’s not going happen.
      What a shame.

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      Mick I was first diagnosed with Gout when I was about 25. I think in my case it was more hereditary because I certainly wasn’t a wine drinker. Fruiterers in the city sure are ripping you people off. Out here in the Riverina (on Young the Cherry capitals doorstep) that $25 would buy you 3kg.

  2. 0
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    What bad news this early in the New Year.
    I love red wine but hate cherries.

  3. 0
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    To be avoided at all cost. Gout is incredibly painful. I have experienced it mostly in the ankle. The usual symptom is a twinge that develops into a full attack as the crystals grind away at the bone. I have found that by taking Progout, or similar, as quickly as possible after the initial symptom it heads off the oncoming onslaught, (most of the time).

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    Had this for the very first time two days after Xmas ( which I’ll admit included a few glasses of red on the day but only to the level of putting the Merry into Merry Christmas. Woke with incredible pain in the big toe and couldn’t walk , thought I must have been bitten by a spider / scorpion. It was so painful. When I read that it was likely to due red wine , I was tempted to give up reading! But seriously I haven’t touched a drop of red since, just a few beers on NYE and now I read that is worse ! Reading what to avoid to eat was just as bad. Any sensible suggestions?

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      It’s amazing how pain will cure the desire for an old favourite. Sad really especially as everyone at the Christmas table think you are anti-social by not eating all the wonderful food that’s on offer.

  5. 0
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    Thanks. Good to know coffee has a reversing affect.
    Arthritis and gout for most us come upon us as we age so foods that were fine suddenly aren’t. While one camp is saying up the omega 3 intake the other is saying OMG my joints are killing me. Shame about the prawns – they were a favourite.

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      If you try this coffee called SISEL, it will do an incredible job of healing …most coffee’s out there are nothing but junk, and contain a cancer causing chemical called acrylamide. due to the Coffee being roasted.

      Sisel does not roast its coffee, and adds amazing healing properties to its coffee, especially for pain, like gout and arthritis.
      I know someone who cured their diabetes by drinking just this coffee.
      http://aidarita.mysiselkaffe.com or you can call me on 0401642371. People ask ” is it expensive”? I say ” No” not compared to living with pain and suffering.

  6. 0
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    I had an attack of gout about 12 years ago. I went on the internet and found many sites that gave advice on anti gout diets. They all more or less agreed, and classified the foods to avoid under 3 headings: High Risk, Moderate Risk and relatively low risk. I haven’t had an attack of gout since I (mostly)started avoiding these foods.

  7. 0
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    Back in the 50s and 60s I was in the British Army and in one battalion we had a major , ex Indian Army from the old days of the RAJ who used to consume at least one bottle of spirits a day. On regimental Dinner nights when the port was passed round for the loyal toast he would call for the mess sergeant and have a glass of water provided. I heard one of the Majors say’ “Water Ted”? to which the reply was a thumb held up and cry of “Gout, me boy”.

  8. 0
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    Your life Choices… wow! you are just advising “Take your medicine that the doctors prescribes for you” how about suggesting seek alternatives also, for someone like me that is just so anti drugs, I can’t take any Pharmaceuticals, my body just doesn’t like any Big Pharma drugs. Once back in 1973 i was vaccinated for the flu, it almost killed me.. I said ” never again” and I never have had another flu jab.. I’m 64, I do Yoga 4 times a week, I take no drugs, I exercise and walk when I have time, I get such a healthy organic diet..don’t drink, smoke, or gamble.. I’m positive thinking, and always look for the good in people.. I’m never sick, since giving up trusting Doctors as being Gods.. They are only as good as they feel on the day, and they make a lot of mistakes. If you trust your GP, have a look at how healthy you are? Did he cure anything.. A good Doctor the best Doctors write the least amount of scripts and have you change your diet…. every single issue in our body as part of dis-ease starts with your diet. Raw Organic foods are the most healing food on this planet. Give your body the nutrients or supplements foods it needs and the body will heal itself. http://aidarita.mysisel.com

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      What you suggest Enneagram 8 has the potential to be extremely dangerous for many people and should never be undertaken on the advice of an unqualified poster on a discussion forum. Anecdotal comments are not evidence and should not be taken as such.

      I am all for the natural approach personally. Of course a healthy diet coupled with regular exercise are essential for good health. It is also true that many of today’s ills – the so called lifestyle conditions – are generally caused by poor diet and lack of exercise. However to claim raw organic food is the most healing is to ignore the scientific fact that, for some foods, cooking makes the nutrient value more available e.g. tomatoes; not to mention in others, cooking makes them safe – beans for example, and the fact that, for thick skinned fruit for example, paying for organic is a waste of money.

      Your negative opinion of GPs is just that – your opinion – and of course you are entitled to express it. However, you also must accept that what ‘works’ for you may not work for the next person. Having said that, it is a good idea to be an advocate for your own health and that means asking the GP (or other medical professional) questions until you are satisfied with the answers.

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      Very irresponsible to suggest that people do not heed their doctors advice and to also to push the ”anti drug and anti vaccination theories ” I suffered for quite a few years ,until I was diagnosed with gout .I tried so many ”natural cures ” to no avail ,now I am on preventative medication and free of the dreaded gout ,if I feel a twinge coming on now (rarely ) I have fast relieving medication to take before it gets me. Recently just read a study conducted somewhere which said that some anti inflammatory drugs used for gout treatment are beneficial for certain heart conditions ,so go figure. May I humbly suggest that the only one here playing god are the people who lecture others on the way we should lead our lives.After researching and talking to other sufferers I am convinced that one treatment for someone is not suited for some other person and also gout can be triggered by diferent causes in diferent people.It is certainly not an excact science

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      I don’t agree with what others have said about your post Enneagram 8. From all my research the evidence points to a healthy diet with lots of raw salad as being the healthiest. Big Pharma has only one agenda, keep as many people taking their poisons as long as possible so the rich get richer. Yes maybe some are helpful but not long term, will never cure anything. Check out NutritionFacts.org and a book by Dr. Joel Fuhrman ‘Eat to Live’ plenty of evidence to support eating plant food which make’s people healthier. Eat more greens like popeye.
      There is twice as much protein in broccoli than meat for example. There is no fibre in animal products either.
      As for alcohol, sorry but our bodies don’t need it to be healthy and our livers cannot process it. My opinions are just that from what I have read, so no negative comments back please.

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      I am a healthy man in my 80,s who doesn’t drink alcohol or smoke and eat a good diet. I also have faith in the medical profession particularly my GP who has been treating me for over 30 years. Not often as I am rarely sick, but twice he has diagnosed Pneumonia when I was very sick with it and his treatment had me back on my bike in days. I don’t trust all doctors as some are not too good, but most of them do have their patients well being at heart.

  9. 0
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    If you are diagnosed with gout as I have been then your doctor should take blood samples to be checked for the offending uric acid
    If your levels are high then the doctor will prescribe progout (allopurinal) or equivelant and over a period of time take more blood samples until the appropriate dosage is ascertained
    This has it appears cured my gout as I havent had an attack since taking this medicine some tgree years

  10. 0
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    De Bortoli Shiraz Cabernet is purine free. It’s one of the few red wines that doesn’t aggravate gout.

    If you suffer from gout, try mixing a half-teaspoon of turmeric in a little water or fruit juice and swallowing once daily. Every person I know who has tried this has been pain-free within a week or two and remained pain free without medication for as long as they maintained the habit.

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