The myth: When it comes to red wine, more is better. 

THE SCIENCE: “There are really interesting data on a compound in red wine – resveratrol – that show anti-inflammatory effects,” says Sharon Kolasinski, MD, director of the rheumatology fellowship program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

Research published last year in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism showed that in subjects taking supplements containing resveratrol, the action of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the body was suppressed. However, the study included only 20 participants, lasted only six weeks and did not involve wine.

Although moderate amounts of wine may bring about health benefits, from protecting the heart to reducing food-borne illnesses, excessive drinking appears to increase the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, according to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Keep it in moderation – no more than two drinks per day for women; not more than three drinks per day for men. “It would be taking it a little far to recommend more and more red wine on the basis of that preliminary research” suggesting a benefit, Dr. Kolasinski says. In addition, a number
of arthritis medications may negatively interact with alcohol; always be sure to let your doctor know how much you drink.

The myth: Coffee causes gout. 

THE SCIENCE: Research published recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition supplies evidence to the contrary. In looking at the coffee-drinking habits of tens of thousands of women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study, Boston University School of Medicine researchers discovered a decreased risk for gout in association with day-to-day coffee drinking. The association corroborates a 2007 finding in men, published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, that long-term coffee intake was associated with a lower incidence of gout.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Too much coffee will make you jittery and keep you up at night, but it does not cause gout, and may actually lower your risk of gout.

The myth: Consuming gelatin strengthens joints.

THE SCIENCE: Gelatin, a protein made from animal products, contains collagen, one of the materials that make up joint cartilage. Thus, the rumor goes, if you consume gelatin, you strengthen your joints by adding collagen to them. A 1990s study from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., appeared to offer proof by showing that athletes who took gelatin supplements had reduced knee joint pain compared to those taking placebo. But the research was conducted by a consultant for Nabisco, which makes Knox gelatin, and was not published in a scientific journal, which meant it never underwent rigorous review.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Gelatin doesn’t travel intact to a particular part of the body. When digested, its components – such as amino acids – are needed for all kinds of tissues, enzymes and various biological processes.