There’s often conflicting information about the health benefits of coffee, which may lead you to wonder whether your morning cup of Joe can help or hurt when it comes to gout.
If you’re a coffee drinker, the good news is that most research studies suggest that you don’t necessarily need to stop drinking coffee if you have gout or elevated uric levels. In fact, moderate coffee consumption may actually help some people lower their risk of gout, and even decaffeinated coffee may have health benefits.
Of course, you should avoid adding sugar or high-fat creamers to your coffee. And excessive coffee intake can do more harm than good, especially if you have other medical conditions. You should talk to your healthcare provider about how much coffee is right for you.
How does coffee help gout?
One reason coffee can help gout sufferers is because it lowers uric acid levels by increasing the rate of uric acid excretion in the body. Coffee contains beneficial compounds such as caffeine and polyphenols:
Caffeine functions similarly to xanthine oxidase inhibitors, which inhibit the activity of xanthine oxidase. Xanthine oxidase is an enzyme responsible for metabolizing purines, a source of uric acid. So inhibiting this enzyme can help prevent the buildup of uric acid.
Caffeine has a similar structure to allopurinol, a drug used to treat gout that removes uric acid from body tissues. When some people first start taking allopurinol, they may have an increased risk of gout attacks as the uric acid gets mobilized from the body tissues. Over time, however, taking the drug gradually decreases the amount of uric acid to a point where attacks no longer occur. That’s why occasional coffee drinkers may have more gout attacks when taking allopurinol, while regular coffee drinkers may not.
Coffee contains a polyphenol called chlorogenic acid. Chlorogenic acid and other antioxidants help reduce the level of insulin in the blood. Insulin and uric acid are closely related because increased insulin sensitivity and decreased insulin levels improve the elimination of uric acid and sodium. Thus, chlorogenic indirectly removes uric acid from the body by improving insulin sensitivity.
Is drinking tea good for gout?
While drinking coffee on a daily basis can reduce the chance of gout attacks, studies have shown that tea isn’t as effective as coffee in this regard. Unlike coffee consumption, tea consumption is not associated with lower uric acid levels.
What are the risk factors for gout?
You are more likely to develop gout if you have higher levels of uric acid in the body. Factors that increase these levels may include:
- Age and sex: Men tend to get gout more than women do, and are more likely to develop gout at an earlier age.
- Weight: People who are overweight tend to produce more uric acid.
- Family history of gout: If members of your family have had the condition, you are more likely to develop gout as well.
- Certain medications: Low-dose aspirins and some hypertension medications can increase uric acid levels.
- Medical conditions: Hypertension, congestive heart failure, kidney disease and hyperlipidemia can increase your risk of gout.
- Alcohol consumption: Excess alcohol consumption (especially beer) can lead to higher uric acid levels.
- Diet: A diet high in purines (red meat, shellfish or sugary drinks) will increase gout risk.
If you are concerned about your risk of getting gout or triggering a gout flare-up, talk to your doctor to learn more about how you can manage your condition.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Arthritis Today Magazine. Does Coffee Help or Hurt Gout? Arthritis Foundation. http://blog.arthritis.org/gout/coffee-gout/
Mayo Clinic. Gout Diet: What's Allowed, What's Not. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/gout-diet/art-20048524
Zhang Y, Yang T, Zeng C, et al. Is Coffee Consumption Associated With a Lower Risk of Hyperuricaemia or Gout? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis [published correction appears in BMJ Open. Jul 18, 2016;6(7):e009809corr1]. BMJ Open. 2016;6(7):e009809. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4947733/
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