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Alcohol can be culturally significant or a personal guilty pleasure. Beer, for example, has a long and fascinating history. It’s no wonder that beer is everywhere you go and enjoyed by millions throughout the world. But what happens when you’re among the percentage of people suffering from gout? Your doctor has most likely told you to go on a low-purine diet and to avoid beer, since it’s high in something called purines.
Is there any hope? Does purine-free beer exist? And how can you obtain it? Let’s find out.
What is Gout?
Before getting into the whole thing about purines and why they’re problematic for people with gout, let’s talk about the issue at hand: gout.
According to the Mayo Clinic, gout is a form of arthritis that is highly complex and can affect any one. Gout appears as what is described as an “attack,” where the joints, mainly the big toe, is swollen and painful. Since these attacks can occur suddenly, you might wake in the middle of the night in excruciating pain.
Diet is one of the biggest risk factors for gout. Food items that are rich in uric acid, such as alcoholic beverages like beer, fructose sugars, and red meat can all increase your risk for getting gout.
Why You Should Avoid Purines
You might be wondering what purines have to do with gout. Purines are essentially in everything and can be converted into uric acid.
Purine is essential to the human body, because it’s needed for DNA and the creation of nucleotides. Since the body needs purines, it tries to hold onto this molecule. However, purines need to be broken down into smaller pieces through the kidneys. It comes out as uric acid. Too much uric acid, though, will cause health problems.
When uric acid builds up in the body, a gout attack may occur.
Can You Drink Beer When You Have Gout?
Usually, you can’t. Lessening gout attacks means going on a low-purine diet. Medical professionals also recommend that you increase your liquid intake to help the kidneys and to flush out any excess uric acid. Similarly, you should avoid alcohol—in particular, beer—since alcohol causes dehydration, which counteracts all the work your kidneys do to process purines. Not only that, but beer contains a lot of purines. Drinking a brew will put an excessive amount of strain on your body.
The connection between beer and gout? When you consume beer, the alcohol prevents the body from getting rid of the uric acid. It pulls it back in, instead. Consequently, the uric acid remains in the blood and may build up around the joints. Since beer is so high in purines, a couple servings of beer a day could elevate your risk of gout dramatically.
In short, you shouldn’t drink beer if you have gout.
What About Non-Alcoholic Beer?
While drinking in moderation can help you prevent gout from ever occurring, once you’ve had an attack once, changing your alcohol habits is best. So would non-alcoholic beer be a good swap? Are non-alcoholic beer and purine-free beer the same thing?
Well, no. Purines don’t come from the alcohol itself. They are produced by the yeast that ferments the beer. So while non-alcoholic beer is a better choice than alcoholic beer, it’s not entirely without purines.
Both non-alcoholic and alcoholic beer contain purines in varying amounts. It’s best to discuss your options with a medical professional or nutritionist, since they will be able to help you set up the appropriate diet. That, or you can go on medication that helps with purine.
What Does Purine-Free Beer Mean?
So if non-alcoholic beer still puts you at risk of a gout attack, what about purine-free beer? Does such a thing exist?
Do you want the good news or bad news first?
The good news is that, yes, purine-free beer is a thing, and it’s the best beer for gout. The bad news? Purine-free beer is exceptionally hard to find in the US and UK. Most of the beers that are labeled purine-free are in Japan, and most of the manufacturers rarely sell those beers outside of Japan. They also are very secretive and have yet to let on how they reduce purines in their products, meaning you can’t homebrew purine-free beer.
If you live in Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, or surrounding areas, getting Japan’s purine-free beer shipped to your door is much easier than if you’re in the US, UK, or Europe. Amazon and eBay are options, though. Don’t give up!
You can also look for filtered beers that have had yeast filtered from the brew before bottling. Avoid unfiltered beers if you have gout. Look for light, non-alcoholic beers. Again, this is a suggestion, not fact, so you will still be ingesting a certain amount of purines.
List of Purine-Free Beer to Drink if You Have Gout
Here is a list of purine-free beers, most of which are made from soybeans (so if you have an allergy, watch out!):
- Kirin Zeroichi: Rich and hoppy in flavor but without alcohol or purines. This beer is made from soybeans rather than hops and barely.
- Suntory All-Free: A very light beer than is heavily carbonated. It’s more like soda or seltzer than beer. Non-alcoholic and purine-free. Unlike most Japanese brands, All-Free can be purchased in some establishments in the US. Amazon may carry it as well.
- Sapporo Umamishibori: This one actually tastes like beer, despite having zero purines and zero alcohol.
- Asahi Dry Zero Free: Looking for zero carbs, zero alcohol, zero gluten and zero purines? Check out this beer. It tastes more like a shandy and is great in the summertime. This is one beer that you can have shipped to you from Amazon and eBay.
- Athletic Brewing Co. Beer: these non-alcoholic brews are low-calorie, non-GMO, and contain little yeast.
- Kingfisher Ultra 0.0 Non-Alcoholic Beer: an Indian brand that produces an ultra-filtered 0% alcohol beer that is light and airy.
Purine-free beer has yet to become a widespread phenomenon, but hopefully, there will be more in the future. Right now, you either have to book a trip to Japan to get purine-free beer or give highly filtered non-alcoholic beer a try. Just be sure to discuss your options with your doctor first!
Frequently Asked Questions
Few beers sold in the US, UK, and Europe are low in purines. Japan sells several beers that are low in malt, purines, and alcohol, including Asahi Dry Zero Free, Suntory Karada o Omou All-Free, Sapporo Umamishibori, Suntory All-Free Lime, Kirin Zeroichi, and Kirin Tanrei Double or Tanrei Platinum Double.
Purine-free beer or non-alcoholic beer are two options you have when you suffer from gout. Since purine-free beer is difficult to find, it is best to moderate your drink and consume a single non-alcoholic beer occasionally. If you are looking for an alcoholic buzz, opt for spirits that are low in purines, such as tequila or whiskey.
Coors Light is low in purines, so you can drink it occasionally if you experience gout. However, you might still end up combating other bodily discomforts. Since Coors Light has corn syrup in it, you might end up with bloating and spiked blood sugar levels. It’s a poor trade-off.
Budweiser, like all purines, contains yeast, which is inherently high in purines, meaning Budweiser also contains purines. Since it is filtered, it does contain less purines than unfiltered brands. You can drink Budweiser in moderation (a single serving) and may not experience a gout flare-up.