Alcohol and Arthritis - How much is OK? If any?

Alcohol and Arthritis - How much is OK? If any?

in News

Although alcohol and in particular - red wine, has been proposed as a potential beneficial addition to an anti-inflammatory diet, the truth is, when it comes to arthritis, it should really be mostly avoided.

There are various reasons for this but they all largely correspond to alcohol’s relationship with increasing inflammatory processes within the body. That’s right, alcohol when excessively and frequently consumed, is inflammatory in nature.

Not the best news when it comes to arthritis! Let’s take a closer look.

Alcohol elevates inflammation

Alcohol has a direct negative effect on the gut microbiome, the gut lining and the liver. When alcohol interacts with these bodily organs and systems, inflammation is immediately activated. This is not the most desirable by-product, particularly when harbouring inflammation-driven conditions such as arthritis.

Alcohol may interact with medications 

It is fairly common to manage arthritic symptoms of pain, tenderness and tightness with pharmaceuticals such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These classes of drugs already possess certain side effects - mainly an increased risk of stomach ulcers and bleeding. Unfortunately, due to alcohol’s inherent nature of irritating the gut lining and altering the microbiome, it only makes these NSAIDs associated side effects much more likely!

Alcohol disrupts sleep patterns

Despite alcohol’s ‘sedative' nature, aiding you to fall into what may seem like is a blissful sleep, it is actually associated with disturbed sleep quality and sleep duration. Essentially, you may find it easy to get to sleep but your time spent in a state of deep rest, will be reduced. As arthritic symptoms of pain and tightness can often keep you from gaining those restful hours, any influencers that may disturb sleep even further should be avoided (i.e. alcohol and caffeine!).

So, you may be thinking - surely a little alcohol is okay?

Well, when it comes to long-term adherence to a healthy lifestyle, moderation really is key. But whilst dealing with an inflammatory condition within the body such as arthritis, significantly reducing or even completely avoiding alcohol, is desirable. If you classify yourself as a rather heavy drinker, reducing your intake to a few standard drinks consumed over the course of the week would be a great start. In terms of what type of alcohol to consume, red wine has been known to be the ‘healthiest’ of all alcoholic beverages based on it’s antioxidant and polyphenol content - both of which support heart health and protect cells from damage.

The bottom line…

If you struggle with arthritis, reducing your intake of alcohol is imperative. Limit your intake to a couple of glasses per week (red is best) and enjoy it in the company of others. If you think you’re capable of complete elimination - kudos to you! 

Just remember that when implementing any kind of dietary or lifestyle change - focus on small, manageable steps!