Well, note the similar 2-ring formations in the objects below:
Now, if I told you that gout was a result of having lots of uric acid in your blood, and if I told you that uric acid is a product of the breakdown of something called purine, you might guess that caffeine could be a problem since it is so structurally similar to purine. In fact, some literature states that caffeine breaks down into uric acid in the body too.
I can understand the initial logic behind attempting to reduce the level of uric acid in the blood by reducing the amount of uric-acid-producing foods, in this case caffeine. I just can't find good evidence to support that logic. What I can find evidence for is:
- Most (85-90%) of the uric acid in our blood comes not from the purines we eat, but from the purines that are manufactured or already reside in our body.
- Even among foods we eat, caffeine-containing beverages are relatively low in purine, compared to, say, organ meats (intestine, kidney, heart, brains) and little fishies (anchovies, herring, sardines).
- Caffeine acts as a diuretic, encouraging loss of uric acid through urine. (I read that caffeine "impairs kidney function which is needed to get uric acid out of the body", yet no mechanism was described. I tend to place statements like that, along with others, e.g. "It cleanses the body.", under the heading of Bogus, until I'm convinced otherwise.)
- Caffeine may interfere with uric acid tests, producing inaccurately high serum levels.
So why are we limiting these undeniably enjoyable, uplifting, and certainly in the case of tea, antioxidant-rich beverages to people who endure an intimate relationship with their pain thresholds?
I'm not sure why this advice is perpetuated. If there was anything I'd steer a gout patient away from, it would be beer.
1Kiyohara C, et al., Inverse association between coffee drinking and serum uric acid concentrations in middle-aged Japanese males. British Journal of Nutrition, 1999, 82(2), p. 125-130.