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Can drinking beer be good for you?

General | August 18, 2021 | Author: Naturopath

general

Can drinking beer be good for you?

What beer drinker would not be excited to be able to justify their love of a beer. The good news is having a beer or two can actually be good for you. Whilst heavy drinking, whether it be beer, wine or spirits, is not healthy for anybody, moderate beer drinking may offer some positive health values. Some of these areas of health include the cardiovascular system, neurodegenerative health, cancer prevention, bone density, dental health, stress and sleep. 

So what is beer?

Beers is a product produced from the fermentation of cereals. It is composed of 90% water, 10% sugar, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, polyphenols and alcohol.

Polyphenols are plant derivatives which offer various health benefits.

Barley and hops supply polyphenols in beer. Other ingredients may be added to beer in order to provide additional flavour, and these too may contribute to polyphenol content. 

Some of the polyphenol found in beer include:

  • flavonoids – flavan-3 (catechin, epicatechin and gallocatechin), xanthohumol (a beer-specific polyphenol from hops)
  • flavanols (kaempferol, myricetin and quercetin)
  • proanthocyanins

Other health providing ingredients include:

Yeast - Saccharomyces cerevisiae (stout, ale and porter beers) and Saccharomyces uvarum (lager beers), is used in the fermentation process in producing alcoholic and carbonated beer. Yeast produces many compounds such as melatonin, tryptophol and serotonin, which have been shown to have a protective effect against degenerative disease.

Hops (Humulus lupulus L) provides essential oils, bitter acids and flavonoids. These components are potent antioxidants and help modulate the immune response.The bitter acids from hops gives beer its bitter taste and traditionally is used as a sedative and antibacterial agent. Studies have also shown the different bitter acids offer various anti-inflammatory actions. 

Barley. Malted barley gives beer colour, malty flavour, sugars for fermentation and provides polyphenols.

Health benefits 

This one’s for all the folks who may appreciate the health value of having a beer. But for those people who don't normally drink alcohol, taking - up drinking alcholic beer is not suggested. 

The nutritional and bioactive components of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beer can offer some positive actions towards health. Some of the compounds possess anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties. Some areas where research has confirmed the value of moderate intake of beer include:

Moderate beer consumption may offer health benefits such as:

  • Cardiovascular Health improvement
  • Reduced risk of dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases
  • Improvment in sleep and stress reduction
  • Antioxidant 
  • Potential cancer preventative

Cardiovascular Health

A moderate consumption of alcohol has been shown to exert a protective action the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. When beer is the specific alcohol beverage consumed, study showed an:

  • improvement in vascular elasticity (how resistant or the stiffness of veins)
  • improved HDL lipid profile and apolipoprotein A1 (high-density lipoproteins carry cholesterol back to the liver. HDL is considered “good cholesterol” and apolipoprotein A1 is its major constituent

Neuroprotective against degenerative diseases of the brain

Regular consumption of beer could offer a preventative measure against Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases due to its ability to reduce inflammation and the load of aluminium and other neurotoxins in the body. Aluminium is responsible for several mechanisms related to brain damage and behavioral disturbances.

Sleep improvement

High amounts of melatonin are produced through the brewing process due to the contribution of barley and yeast.

Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland with several roles in the body, one of which being the regulation of the sleep cycle (the circadian rhythm) and processes associated with it. When taken orally melatonin has shown to exert a beneficial effect. Along with sleep enhancement, Melatonin offers antioxidant, anticarcinogenic, immunomodulatory and neuroprotective actions.

Antioxidant

Antioxidants neutralise the activity of a free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that freely attack other molecules and cause radical alteration to the stability and function of cells. 
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The antioxidant value offered by the consumption of beer is enhanced when combined with healthy diet such as the Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables and good oils.
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Cancer

Scientific evidence suggest the constituent in selected hop-derived beer may offer cancer preventive potential. These include - prenylflavonoids and the bitter acids from hop bitter acids. 

Gingivitis and gum disease

Beer has shown the ability to inhibit the activity of bacteria associated with gum disease and tooth decay. 

Type 2 diabetes

Moderate intake of alcohol was shown to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in middle-aged males in one study. (1)

Minerals found in beer - such as silicon which is good for bones and iron from dark ale -  important in human heath.

What amount is considered ok

The world health organisation (WHO) considers a moderate consumption of one 330 mL of beer containing 5% alcohol for females daily and 2 for males. Alcohol component of beer ranges in content depending on particular beer and can be in the range of 3.5% - 10% per weight/volume.

Now for the negatives

Ethanol, a simple alcohol naturally found in beer, is a toxic substance and known carcinogenic. Alcohol can become an addiction for some people and may increase the risk of developing alcohol-related cancer.
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Too much of a good thing

Alcoholic liver disease (ALD) is the main cause of cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer, liver failure and death. ALD is thought due to the toxic effect of alcohol.

Weight gain and obesity can be a risk factor for some people and particularly if large quantities of alcohol are consumed.  

Who should not drink alcohol?

People with by cardiomyopathy, cardiac arrhythmia, depression, liver and pancreatic diseases should avoid alcohol. Alcohol is not suitable for children, adolescents, in pregnancy and breastfeeding.

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References

Moderate Beer Intake and Cardiovascular Health in Overweight Individuals https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6164820/

To beer or not to beer: A meta-analysis of the effects of beer consumption on cardiovascular health https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7269243/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/hdl-cholesterol/art-20046388

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/polyphenol

The Role of Bioactive Phenolic Compounds on the Impact of Beer on Health https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7831491/

High levels of melatonin generated during the brewing process https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23607887/

Melatonin in Wine and Beer: Beneficial Effects https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7827953/

The Nutritional Components of Beer and Its Relationship with Neurodegeneration and Alzheimer’s Disease https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6682961/

Redox and Anti-Inflammatory Properties from Hop Components in Beer-Related to Neuroprotection https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8226943/

Beer constituents as potential cancer chemopreventive agents https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15953717/

(1) https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/features/moderate-alcohol-intake-may-decrease-mens-risk-for-type-2-diabetes/

Hop bitter acids efficiently block inflammation independent of GRalpha, PPARalpha, or PPARgamma https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19655312/

Pathophysiology and Management of Alcoholic Liver Disease: Update 2016 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28274107/

Alcohol Consumption and Obesity: An Update https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4338356/

Beer Phenolic Composition of Simple Phenols, Prenylated Flavonoids and Alkylresorcinols https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7321207/

Silicon in beer and brewing https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20355113/

Evaluation of Plant and Fungal Extracts for Their Potential Antigingivitis and Anticaries Activity https://admin.superpharmacy.com.au/admin/blog/edit/5871

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