Beer is good for

Sure, you probably have beer to thank for helping you meet your girlfriend, spurring some of your greatest stories, and bringing out your worst dance moves. But it turns out there are tons of other awesome, scientifically proven reasons to love a good brew.

Beer could safeguard your heart, boost your immunity, protect your bones, and more. Ready, set, drink up.

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Contents

BEER BENEFIT #1: PROTECT YOUR HEART.

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Wine usually gets all the credit as the booze that helps cut back your cardiovascular disease risk, but beer may be just as heart-healthy of a beverage.

Italian researchers found that moderate beer drinkers had a 42 percent lower risk of heart disease compared to non-drinkers. For maximum protection, keep your consumption to one pint—at around 5 percent alcohol by volume—a day, the researchers say. Toast to your health with one of these summer brews.

BEER BENEFIT #2: THINK LIKE A GENIUS.

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Knocking back a beer or two won’t make you smarter, but it could boost your creativity, according to a study in the journal Consciousness and Cognition.

When 40 men watched a movie while completing verbal puzzles, beer-buzzed guys with a blood alcohol content of .075 solved the problems a few seconds faster than their sober counterparts.

Related: 8 Surprising Things That Prove You’re Super Smart

BEER BENEFIT #3: PREVENT TYPE 2 DIABETES.

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Dutch researchers analyzed 38,000 male health professionals and found that when men who weren’t big boozers began drinking moderately over 4 years, they were significantly less likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Increased alcohol consumption over time didn’t lower the risk in men who already had a couple drinks a day, so moderation is the key word here.

Stick to a beer or two at happy hour tonight.

BEER BENEFIT #4: BE KIND TO YOUR KIDNEYS.

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Cheers to never having to pass a kidney stone again—or if you’re lucky, ever. Researchers in Finland found that each bottle of beer a man drinks daily lowers his risk of developing kidney stones by 40 percent.

The researchers can’t exactly explain the link, but speculate that a high fluid intake not only makes for an excessive number of trips to the bathroom, but could also keep kidneys functioning properly. Additionally, the researchers say the hops in beer may be responsible for the correlation, helping to slow the release of calcium from bone—which could get reabsorbed by the kidneys as painful stones.

BEER BENEFIT #5: RECOVER FASTER.

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Move over, Gatorade—a heady brew could also aid in workout recovery, according to a Spanish study. Researchers asked students to exercise until their body temperature reached 104 degrees, and then had them rehydrate with beer or water. As it turns out, people who had a post-workout pint were slightly more hydrated than those who had H2O.

BEER BENEFIT #5: GET AN INSTANT CONFIDENCE BOOST.

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Beer goggles? Try beer mirror. British researchers found the more drinks people consumed, the more attractive they found themselves.

In a second study, the researchers asked participants who had consumed either a real or fake alcoholic drink to give a speech. When asked to evaluate how good-looking, smart, and funny they felt they were during their talk, people who thought they imbibed gave themselves more positive self-evaluations—regardless of whether or not they were actually buzzed.

Want to catch a woman’s eye? These are the types of men women find most attractive.

BEER BENEFIT #7: SEE CLEARER.

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A Guinness a day could keep the eye doctor away. Canadian researchers found that one daily beer—especially a lager or stout—increases antioxidant activity that can stop cataracts from forming in the eyes.

The kicker: The scientists found an opposite effect in participants who had three or more drinks a day. Here are six ways you can protect your eyesight today.

BEER BENEFIT #8: LOWER YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE.

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High blood pressure can be responsible for a range of health problems, but beer can lower your risk for hypertension, research suggests.

In one study, Harvard researchers found that moderate beer drinkers are less likely to develop high blood pressure than those who sip wine or cocktails.

BEER BENEFIT #9: FIGHT OFF INFECTION.

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Having one or two drinks a day might boost your immune system and fight infections, according to an Oregon Health & Science University study.

Scientists vaccinated monkeys against smallpox, then gave some of the primates access to alcohol while others could drink sugar water. The monkeys who drank moderately had better vaccine responses than those who consumed the sweet stuff.

But the animals that drank heavily—you may now imagine a totally tanked chimp—had less of a response to the vaccine than those who kept their habit under control.

Related: 7 Glorious Times Scientists Got Animals Drunk

BEER BENEFIT #10: PREVENT A FRACTURE.

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Nasty breaks from drunken debauchery aside, a couple beers a day could actually strengthen your bones, according to a study at Tufts University.

Guys who stuck to one or two brews had up to 4.5 percent greater bone density than non-drinkers—but more than two beers was associated with up to 5.2 percent lower density, according to the study.

Does one drink a day damage your health?

You’ve no doubt heard the common wisdom that a drink at the end of a long day does you good.

Maybe it’s the antioxidants in wine you swear by, or the relaxing qualities of a beer. Perhaps just the taste makes you feel better.

But the idea low-level drinking is good for your health is actually a myth, says Professor Tanya Chikritzhs, from Curtin University’s National Drug Research Institute.

Earlier research had suggested this but more recent studies have cast serious doubt on the idea.

In fact, alcohol is a carcinogen, a substance that can cause cancers.

Cancers linked to alcohol consumption:

  • Prostate cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Mouth cancer
  • Throat cancer
  • Oesophageal cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Colorectal cancer

And you might be surprised how little alcohol needs to pass your lips before you start to risk your health.

“From the very first sip, even at very low levels of less than half a drink a day, you can experience an increased risk for a range of cancers,”

Professor Chikritzhs said.

One example for which new evidence has emerged in recent years is prostate cancer.

And it seems in this case, even very low-level drinking — one to two drinks every 10 days over a number of years – can increase a man’s risk of developing the cancer by eight per cent compared to someone who has never drunk alcohol.

Professor Chikritzhs said in the last 20 years there had been rapid advances in our understanding of the links between alcohol and cancer, and a growing body of evidence linking increased alcohol consumption and cancer risk.

“For a whole range of cancers, seven or eight of them, we can demonstrate a linear dose response relationship,” she said.

This means as the amount you drink each day increases, there’s a corresponding increase in your risk of developing cancer.

There’s no level of alcohol consumption that’s completely safe.

If you don’t want any increased risk of developing cancer (above what you might have already from genetics or the environment you live in), you’d have to stop drinking altogether.

National guidelines

The National Health and Medical Research Council’s alcohol guidelines say you shouldn’t drink more than two standard drinks a day.

One drink a day study flaws teaser

By doing so, you keep your lifetime risk of death from alcohol-related disease or injury below one in 100, even if the drinking is daily.

That doesn’t mean there’s no risk, just that it’s relatively low — at a level acceptable to most people and on par with the benchmarks by which we test water quality, Professor Chikritzhs said.

The other thing to think about is exactly how much a standard drink is — because it doesn’t always equate to a glass of wine or a bottle of beer.

In fact, most full-strength beers will equate to around 1.5 standard drinks, and the average restaurant serve of red wine is 1.6.

In case you were wondering, the “two standard drinks” limit is not an average; you can’t drink 10 drinks in a single night, then nothing the rest of the week and kid yourself you’re still within the guidelines.

There’s actually a separate NHMRC guideline for single “occasions” of drinking, and it’s mostly about factors other than your cancer risk.

It states that no more than four standard drinks should be consumed to limit the risk of alcohol-related injury stemming from that drinking session alone.

What about the health benefits?

So what about all those studies we heard about that suggested benefits of a glass or two?

Possible mechanisms by which alcohol could act as a health tonic include it working to boost levels of “good” fats in the blood, increasing the body’s sensitivity to the hormone insulin, or decreasing inflammation (which has been linked to a range of illnesses, including heart disease).

There’s mixed messages when it comes to whether alcohol can confer health benefits (ABC News: Sonya Gee)

There’s mixed messages when it comes to whether alcohol can confer health benefits

ABC News: Sonya Gee

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Professor Chikritzhs said there were two camps in this area — those who believe low-level drinking confers such benefits, and those who think the studies demonstrating these benefits are flawed.

She put herself firmly in the sceptics camp.

The problem is that studies that appeared to show a drink or two was good for us didn’t fully take into account factors other than alcohol that might influence the results.

For instance, some groups of people who didn’t drink looked to be in worse health than others who drank a little.

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But this group included non-drinkers who’d had to give up booze because of problems with their health (and often these very health problems were a result of their former drinking habit).

This created an illusion that those who drink more are healthier, Professor Chikritzhs said.

Cutting back

So if you’re someone who enjoys a daily drink, is there is any reason to consider cutting down?

It depends on your approach to health risks, Professor Chikritzhs said.

“For some people there are individual considerations. The genetics behind alcoholism is complex but you might want to keep a closer eye on your drinking if you have parents or siblings who had alcohol problems.”

And you might be extra vigilant if you are personally very concerned about certain cancers that are linked to alcohol.

Even consuming less than two standard drinks a day is estimated to cause more than 2000 deaths in Australia every year — most of them cancers (there are more than 40,000 cancer deaths in total in Australia each year, according to Cancer Council Australia).

And she said it was vitally important Australians were honest with themselves when it comes to how much they drink.

“They’ll think about what they usually do but forget about the big night on Friday they had.”

10 reasons beer is not bad for you

Here are 10 reasons why beer is not really bad for you, if had in moderation. Please note, this is not an encouragement to imbibe, especially if you are a teetotaler or have a medical condition
1. Beer drinkers live longer
Moderate drinking is good for you, and beer is good for moderate drinking. Everyone knows that if you drink too much, it’s not good for you. Let’s not pull punches: If you’re a drunk, you run into things, you drive into things, you get esophageal cancer, you get cirrhosis and other nasty conditions. But more and more medical research indicates that if you don’t drink at all, that’s not good for you either. According to numerous independent studies, moderate drinkers live longer and better than drunks or teetotalers. Beer is perfect for moderate drinking because of its lower alcohol content and larger volume compared with wine or spirits. And as that old radical Thomas Jefferson said, “Beer, if drank with moderation, softens the temper, cheers the spirit, and promotes health.” And he didn’t need a scientific study to tell him that.
2. Beer is all-natural Some know-it-alls will tell you that beer is loaded with additives and preservatives. The truth is that beer is as all-natural as orange juice or milk (maybe even more so – some of those milk & OJ labels will surprise you). Beer doesn’t need preservatives because it has alcohol and hops, both of which are natural preservatives. Beer is only “processed” in the sense that bread is: It is cooked and fermented, then filtered and packaged. The same can be said for Heineken.
3. Beer is low in calories, low in carbohydrates and has no fat or cholesterol
For a completely natural beverage, beer offers serious low-calorie options. Twelve ounces of Guinness has the same number of calories as 12 ounces of skim milk: about 125. That’s less than orange juice (150 calories), which is about the same as your standard, “full-calorie” beer. If beer were your only source of nutrition, you’d have to drink one every waking hour just to reach your recommended daily allowance of calories (2,000 to 2,500). And nobody’s recommending you drink that many. The only natural drinks with fewer calories than beer are plain tea, black coffee and water. Surely, beer is loaded with those fattening carbohydrates, right? Wrong again. The average beer has about 12 grams of carbs per 12-ounce serving. The U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance is 300 grams of carbohydrates in a standard 2,000-calorie diet. In other words, you would need to drink an entire 24-pack case of beer – and then reach into a second case – simply to reach the government’s recommended daily allotment of carbohydrates. You’re better off munching an apple or drinking some soda pop if you want to carbo-load. Each has about 35 to 40 grams of carbs – three times the number found in a beer. Also, beer has no fat or cholesterol.
4. Beer improves your cholesterol
Beer not only has no cholesterol, it can actually improve the cholesterol in your body. In fact, drinking beer regularly and moderately will tilt your HDL/LDL cholesterol ratios the right way. You’ve got two kinds of cholesterol in your system: HDL, the “good” cholesterol that armor-plates your veins and keeps things flowing, and LDL, the “bad” cholesterol that builds up in your veins like sludge in your bathtub drain. Beer power-flushes the system and keeps the HDL levels up. According to some studies, as little as one beer a day can boost your HDL by up to 4 per cent.
5. Beer helps you chill
The social aspects of moderate drinking are solidly beneficial to your health. In other words, to get out every now and then and relax with your buddies over a couple of beers.
6. Beer has plenty o’ B vitamins
Beer, especially unfiltered or lightly filtered beer, turns out to be quite nutritious, despite the years of suppression of those facts by various anti-alcohol groups. Beer has high levels of B vitamins, particularly folic acid, which is believed to help prevent heart attacks. Beer also has soluble fiber, good for keeping you regular, which in turn reduces the likelihood that your system will absorb unhealthy junk like fat. Beer also boasts significant levels of magnesium and potassium, in case you were planning on metal-plating your gut.
7. Beer is safer than water
If you’re someplace where you are advised not to drink the water, the local beer is always a safer bet. It’s even safer than the local bottled water. Beer is boiled in the brewing process and is kept clean afterwards right through the bottle being capped and sealed, because if it isn’t, it goes bad in obvious ways that make it impossible to sell. Even if it does go bad, though, there are no life-threatening bacteria bacteria (pathogens) that can live in beer. So drink up – even bad beer is safer than water.
8. Beer prevents heart attacks
If you want to get a bit more cutting-edge than vitamins, beer has other goodies for you. You’ve heard of the French Paradox, how the French eat their beautiful high-fat diet and drink their beautiful high-booze diet and smoke their nasty goat-hair cigarettes, but have rates of heart disease that are about one-third that of the rest of the world? It’s been credited to red wine and the antioxidants it contains. Hey, guess what else has lots of antioxidants, as many as red wine? Dark beer! According to the American Heart Association, “there is no clear evidence that wine is more beneficial than other forms of alcoholic drink.” One study profiled in the British Medical Journal in 1999 said that the moderate consumption of three drinks a day could reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 24.7 per cent.
9. Beer fights cancer
The most amazing beer and health connection is something called xanthohumol, a flavonoid found only in hops. Xanthohumol is a potent antioxidant that inhibits cancer-causing enzymes, “much more potent than the major component in soy,” according Dr. Cristobal Miranda of the Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology at Oregon State University. This xanthohumol stuff is so good for you that the Germans have actually brewed a beer with extra levels of it.
10. Beer does not give you a beer belly
A study done by researchers at the University College of London and the Institut Klinické a Experimentální Medicíny in Prague in 2003 showed no connection between the amount of beer people drank and the size of their overhang. “There is a common notion that beer drinkers are, on average, more ‘obese’ than either non-drinkers or drinkers of wine or spirits,” the researchers said. But they found that “the association between beer and obesity, if it exists, is probably weak.” Most studies have found that people who drink beer regularly (and moderately) not only don’t develop beer bellies – they weigh less than non-drinkers. Beer can boost your metabolism, keep your body from absorbing fat and otherwise make you a healthier, less disgusting slob. Just drink it in moderation, as part of an otherwise healthy diet.
So that’s it. Drink beer. You’ll live longer and be happier. You won’t get fat. In fact, you may weigh less. You’ll boost your metabolism, improve your health and reduce your risk of clogged arteries, heart attack and cancer. What more could you want?
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Sometimes there’s nothing better than cracking open a cold one after a long day.

We tend to view beer as a guilty pleasure — maybe because we associate all those suds with a beer gut and inevitable weight gain. But you’ll be happy to hear that, when consumed in moderation (we repeat, moderation), the benefits of a pint of beer go may far beyond helping you wind down after a stressful week.

What exactly constitutes “drinking in moderation,” anyway? The Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines moderate alcohol consumption as having one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. While research does show there is room for imbibing as part of a balanced, healthy diet, they also advise not to start drinking if you currently abstain.

But if you do keep a six-pack in the fridge, pop one open and say “cheers” to these potential health benefits.

It contributes to our daily nutrient intake

Many experts agree that beer is more like a food than a beverage — after all, it is referred to as liquid bread. If you’ve ever sipped a pint of Guinness, you know exactly what they mean. While that does mean you need to be mindful of how many calories you’re sipping in each glass, it also means the liquid contains some good-for-you nutrients.

According to one study, “beer contains more protein and B vitamins than wine. The antioxidant content of beer is equivalent to that of wine, but the specific antioxidants are different because the barley and hops used in the production of beer contain flavonoids different from those in the grapes used in the production of wine.”

Charlie Bamforth, a professor of brewing sciences at the University of California, Davis, also claims that beer trumps wine when it comes to B vitamins, phosphorus, folate and niacin. Beer also has significant protein and some fiber. And it is one of a few significant dietary sources of silicon, which research shows can help prevent osteoporosis. Preliminary research by Bamforth also suggests that beer may contain prebiotics that feed the good bacteria in our gut.

It may lower your risk of diabetes

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A study published in the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes found that people who drink 3 to 4 times per week were less likely to develop diabetes than those who never drink. And when compared to those who didn’t drink beer, men who enjoyed between one and six beers per week had a 21 percent lower risk of diabetes.

How Beer Can Benefit Your Health

Aug. 4, 201701:03

It may make your heart healthier

Wine tends to be the choice on the bar menu associated with a healthy heart. But there’s reason to love beer for the same reason. A preliminary study presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2016 followed 80,000 participants for six years and found that moderate drinkers had the slowest decline in high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol, levels — and in turn, a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases. Research also shows that of men who have already suffered a heart attack, those that drank beer moderately were 42 percent less likely to die of heart disease.

It may build stronger bones

Move over milk — could there be a new bone-building beverage in the fridge? A review published in the International Journal of Endocrinology found that moderate beer consumption increased bone density in men. No, it’s not the buzz that’s helping those bones grow: it may be the silicon found in your pint, which is an essential mineral for bone formation.

It may boost brain power

Another benefit of having silicon on the ingredients list? It helps protect your brain from compounds thought to eventually cause cognitive diseases. Which may be why researchers at Loyola University in Chicago found that moderate beer drinkers are 23 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s and dementia than those who don’t drink beer. Another explanation: Beer is shown to raise good cholesterol which improves blood flow to the brain.

And ordering a few pints may give you a boost at trivia night. According to one study, people with a slight beer buzz solved puzzles faster than their sober counterparts. In fact, alcohol made subjects almost 30 percent more likely to find the unexpected solution.

It cleans your teeth

A study published in the Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology found that beer can keep bacteria from forming — and growing — on your teeth. The researchers tested the effects of beer extracts on the bacteria that form biofilm and promote tooth decay and gum disease, and found that even the weakest extract of beer tested blocked the activity of bacteria. Beer was also one of the best extracts for blocking communication between bacteria, which slows their growth. Good old Guinness was the beer they used in testing — another reason to channel your inner Irishman at the bar.

It may reduce inflammation

Next time your spouse asks why you’re still at the bar, tell them you’re fighting inflammation.

Inflammation in the body is the underlying cause behind many diseases, and according to a study published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, hops (an essential ingredient in beer) has anti-inflammatory properties. The researchers compared the anti-inflammatory effect of different hops and found that the consumption of hops in beer form interfered with inflammation causing compounds.

It may help you live longer

A study conducted by a psychologist at the University of Texas found that people who drink moderately live longer than those who don’t. But don’t use it as a license to binge drink this weekend because heavy alcohol use can negatively impact your health. The jury is still out, but studies suggest that a healthy amount of beer can add years to your life, given that it positively impacts cholesterol levels, lowers your risk of diabetes and strengthens your heart.

Regardless of the reason why, we’ll take it as a cue to crack open a cold one tonight.

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Drinking ‘Strong Beer’ Is Just As Good for Your Gut As Taking Probiotics, Study Finds (Video)

Put down your Activia. There may be a more enjoyable way to support gut health — with beer.

According to a professor at Amsterdam University, strong beers can be “very, very healthy” for gut health when consumed in moderation.

Eric Classen presented his beer-based probiotic research at a conference hosted by probiotic drink maker Yakult. Classen’s research revealed that strong Belgian beers like Hoegaarden, Westmalle Tripel, and Echt Kriekenbier have more probiotics than their weaker counterparts, according to The Telegraph.

Image zoom Getty Images

The difference is in the fermentation process. While most beers are only fermented once, a beer (like a strong Belgian) that goes through fermentation twice has more of a specific type of probiotic yeast that kills disease-causing bacteria in the gut.

Regular probiotics are most commonly linked to a healthy digestive tract and increased immune system support.

Classen concluded that “if you drink just one of these beers every day it would be very good for you.”

Just don’t go too far the other way as excessive drinking can damage the healthy bacteria in your gut.

Although this seems like a pretty awesome way to support digestive health, it’s important to note that the scientific community is not in universal agreement about the benefits of probiotics

Last year a study by the journal Cell, revealed that probiotics might not be universally beneficial and, in some people, could actually bring “potential adverse side effect.”

The science gods have said it! Drinking beer in moderation is actually good for your health. These 15 facts reveal why you should not feel bad when you crack open a cold one after a stressful day.

1. Beer is good for the heart.

Several studies show that consumption of beer could reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. This is because beer has a thinning effect on blood and reduces the chances of forming a clot which can cause a blockage in the coronary artery. It also reduces the risk of inflammation which has a potential to cause atherosclerosis.

Source: Sense About Science

2. Beer helps in losing weight.

A study conducted by Oregon State Univerity found that xanthohumol, a chemical flavonoid found in beer, helps reduce weight and cholesterol levels.

Source: Matan Segev

3. Beer improves cholesterol level.

Beer helps increase the levels of lipoprotein- the good type of cholesterol which prevents plaque buildup in the arteries. Beer also has high amounts of fibre which helps reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol- the bad type of cholesterol.

Source: Tookapic

4. Beer promotes better bowel movement.

A regular bottle of beer contains around 20 percent of the recommended regular dosage of fibre, which helps in better bowel function.

Source: Michelle Riach

5. Beer minimizes the risk of cancer.

Xanthohumol, an antioxidant, that is found in beer plays a major role in the prevention of cancer. Beer is also a good source of polyphenols which helps in the prevention and treatment of cancer.

Source: Mateusz Dach

6. Beer helps boost mental health.

Studies claim that beer can help protect the brain against neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Drinking beer also increases the amount of dopamine in the brain which can make you feel calmer and relaxed.

Source: Tookapic

7. Beer helps in improving the eyesight.

Enzymes and antioxidants found in beer help protect the eyes by preventing mitochondrial damage. A study by University of Western Ontario claims that a beer a day can minimize the risk of people developing a cataract.

Source: Tembela Bohle

8. Beer minimizes the risk of diabetes.

A study conducted by Harvard found that people who increased the consumption of alcohol reduced the risk of developing type-2 diabetes.

Source: Temabela Bohle

9. Beer reduces the risk of developing kidney stones.

Beer contains potassium and magnesium which help prevent the development of kidney stones. Also, beer is 90 percent water, and water is the most powerful tool for the prevention of kidney stones. In fact, a study actually found that drinking a bottle of beer every day can reduce the risk of kidney stones by 40 percent.

Source:

10. Beer helps in the development of denser and healthier bones.

Beer is rich in dietary silicone which contributes to a higher bone density. It also minimizes the risk of osteoporosis.

Source: Elevate

11. Beer increases Vitamin B levels.

Beer contains several B vitamins. The Lancet, a medical journal, suggests that beer contains Vitamin B6 which prevents the risk of heart disease by keeping in check the formation of homocysteine in our body.

Source:

12. Beer helps cure insomnia.

Beer contains Lactoflavin and nicotinic acid which can help promote sleep.

Source: je Shoots

13. Beer has positive effects on the skin and hair.

The vitamins present in beer are a good preventive and corrective source for acne and also add a glow to the skin. Additionally, Hops and malt in beer promote healthy growth of hair.

Source:

14. Beer delays ageing and promotes longevity.

Beer increases the levels and impact of Vitamin E, acting as an antioxidant which helps keep the skin healthy while also slowing down the ageing process.

Source: Tim Durben

15. Beer flushes out toxins from the body.

Beer has diuretic properties which increase urination thus facilitating increased removal of toxins from the body.

Source: Tookapic

Mind you, it’s always better to drink in moderation. So, now that you’re well aware of the nutritional benefits of beer, let’s drink to that!

A recent Daily Mail article announced that: “Beer is officially good for you”. The article claimed that beer “reduces heart risk” and “improves brain health”. Even if “heart risk” sounds a bit vague, the news sounds good.

But let’s take a closer look at the evidence. The Daily Mail cites the source of the research as The American Journal of the Medical Sciences. The journalist even provides a quote from the study, which was published in 2000:

The antioxidant content of beer is equivalent to that of wine, but the specific antioxidants are different because the barley and hops used in the production of beer contain flavonoids different from those in the grapes used in the production of wine.

The Daily Mail article goes on to say that beer can help to reduce the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease, it can protect cognitive function and it can boost levels of high-density lipoprotein (so-called good cholesterol) – although it’s not clear if the journalist is citing the study at this point or a nutritionist.

Before we look at whether or not beer is good for your health, we first need to look at what’s in beer.

Beer is made from four primary ingredients: grain (mainly barley, but it could be other grains), hops, yeast and water. Table 1 provides a summary of the nutrients found in a 330ml serving of beer.

Table 1: The nutrition information of beer. Mayur Ranchordas, Author provided

Beer also contains micronutrients called polyphenols. Some of these polyphenols, such as flavanoids, flavanols and phenolic acids, have known health benefits, although a lot of the research has focused on wine, not beer.

But what about the specific health claims made in the article? Does beer really reduce “heart risk”? Most studies on beer suggest that low to moderate consumption could reduce the risk of heart disease. The reported effects are similar to those found in wine.

The Daily Mail article also claims that beer can “boost brain health”, although the evidence for this is somewhat shaky. A recent study that tracked 550 men and women over the course of 30 years, concluded that alcohol consumption, even at moderate levels, is associated with negative changes in the brain.

Alcohol and mortality

Previous alcohol studies showed a J-shaped relationship between alcohol consumption and mortality, suggesting slightly higher mortality for teetotallers, slightly reduced mortality for light and moderate drinkers, then an increase in mortality for heavy drinkers. However, the latest research, using more complete data, suggests that the relationship between alcohol and mortality is actually linear – the more alcohol you drink, the more likely you are to die prematurely. The only age group for whom moderate alcohol consumption still seems to be associated with reduced mortality are women over the age of 65.

It should be noted that the UK guideline for alcohol intake is 14 units for men and women, which equals about five pints of a 5% alcohol beer per week.

Ultimately, the healthy properties found in beer such as flavanoids, flavanols and phenolic acids can also be obtained from non-alcoholic plant-based food and drinks. So don’t be fooled by the eye-catching headlines; beer may have some health benefits, but that doesn’t mean it’s the healthiest way to obtain those benefits.

It should also be noted that the study quoted by the Daily Mail concluded: “There is no evidence to support endorsement of one type of alcoholic beverage over another.”

More on evidence-based articles about diets:

  • Do you get diabetes from eating too much sugar?

  • Can a glass of milk really ‘slash’ your risk of type 2 diabetes?

  • Why frequent dieting makes you put on weight – and what to do about it

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Humans and the bottle go a long way back. Archaeologists have found our love of alcohol began some 9,000 years ago (and maybe even 10 million years ago, according to some reports).

Evidence of people boozin’ it up has been found in nearly every society throughout history. And today, alcohol is still ingrained in cultures around the world, especially in places like the Midwest – dubbed the Binge Drinking Belt of the United States. Summer barbecue? Beer me. Stressed? Unwind with some wine. Bored? Hang out with Jack Daniels and Sailor Jerry.

And for decades, there seemed to be no need to feel too guilty about imbibing, as long as you did so moderately and responsibly. After all, previous studies have tied alcohol consumption to heart health and longevity. And we’ve heard that a glass of wine a day can keep the doctor away.

But is the party over? The growing body of work that highlights alcohol’s connection to cancer is difficult to ignore. And according to some studies, the evidence outweighs any potential heart health benefits you might get from a drink or two.

According to the World Health Organization and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, alcohol is a Group 1 carcinogen, which is the same ranking given to tobacco and solar radiation. This doesn’t mean that drinking is as bad for you as smoking. Rather, it describes the level of evidence out there showing that exposure can cause cancer. So, two carcinogens in the same category don’t necessarily carry the same cancer risk.

But it is important to note that among avoidable risk factors of cancer, alcohol is the third-leading cause of death behind cigarette smoking and excess body weight in the United States, according to a 2018 study.

Around 3.5 percent of all cancer deaths (or 19,500 deaths) in a given year are alcohol-related, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But this probably seems small when compared to the toll of cigarette smoking, which is responsible for approximately 30 percent of cancer deaths in the United States.

How Many Cigarettes In a Bottle of Wine?

That said, it can sometimes be confusing when trying to understand health risks. One study in 2019 attempted to clear this up by equating wine consumption to cigarette smoking. The researchers estimated that drinking juust one bottle of wine each week has the same carcinogenic impact as smoking five cigarettes for men and 10 for women on a weekly basis. And, in case you’re wondering, this gender difference has nothing to do with tolerance or body size. It’s, quite simply, because women have breasts and men don’t, said lead study author Theresa Hydes, a researcher at the University Hospital Southampton in the United Kingdom.

“While alcohol causes seven types of cancer, the risk of most of these cancers does not increase significantly until an individual starts drinking heavily. Breast cancer is the exception,” Hydes said in an email to Discover. “At moderate levels of alcohol intake (for example 10 a week) the risk of breast cancer goes up more than it does for other alcohol-related cancers.”

But, even if you don’t have breasts, you may still want to be mindful of how much you drink. Consuming a bottle of vino per week, roughly a glass per day, is associated with an increased absolute lifetime cancer risk of 1.0 percent in men and 1.4 percent in women. In other words, if 1,000 men and 1,000 women each drank one bottle of wine per week, around 10 more men and 14 more women would develop cancer as a result, according to the study.

Other recent studies have tied an increased risk of developing cancer to what many would consider moderate drinking. For instance, in 2015, Harvard researchers published the results of a study that followed 88,084 women and 47,881 men for 30 years. They found that light-to-moderate drinking was associated with a small increased risk of overall cancer. This study defined light-to-moderate drinking as one standard drink for women and up to two standard drinks a day for men. A standard drink was equivalent to a four ounce glass of wine or a 12-ounce bottle of beer.

The study uncovered particularly strong cancer risks for women. Among females, a drink a day raised the risk of developing an alcohol-related cancer by 13 percent, primarily driven by breast cancer. Two drinks a day also increased the risk of cancer among men who had smoked. However, the study didn’t find a higher risk among never-smoking men.

And yet another buzzkill study: A 2018 review of 700 studies from around the world declared that no amount of alcohol consumption is healthful.

But if you’re not quite ready to be a teetotaler, here’s a different study for you. Sarah Hartz, a researcher at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and her team analyzed the health records of more than 400,000 people, zeroing in on light-and-moderate drinking’s impact on mortality. Their work suggested that there is a “safe” amount of alcohol to drink per week.

“It looks like drinking one to two drinks a few times weekly is probably not harmful,” she said in an email to Discover. “ people who don’t drink shouldn’t start drinking.”

Why Is Alcohol Carcinogenic?

Hartz said a few cancers in particular have been linked to alcohol: Breast, colon, rectum and liver, as well as oral and esophageal cancers.

And a recent study in mice sheds light on the mechanisms behind how alcohol causes cancer. As the body processes alcohol, it is converted into acetaldehyde, a highly toxic substance and known carcinogen.

Acetaldehyde permanently damages the DNA within blood stem cells, leading to rearranged chromosomes and permanently altered genetic sequences. And damaged DNA can lead to cancer.

But DNA damage isn’t the only way that alcohol may cause cancer. Alcohol can also cause oxidative stress, which damages our bodies, and it can impair a person’s ability to absorb nutrients from food. Additionally, it can elevate estrogen, a female sex hormone linked to breast cancer.

But it seems that the risks of drinking alcohol aren’t one-size-fits-all. Some heavy drinkers never develop cancer, while light-to-moderate drinkers do sometimes eventually develop an alcohol-related cancer. Researchers think this may be influenced by genetic differences that determine how our bodies break down alcohol.

For instance, people of East Asian ancestry may carry a highly active form of an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), which speeds up the conversion of alcohol into cancer-linked acetaldehyde. Japanese people who carry this version of the enzyme have been found to have higher rates of pancreatic cancer.

Another enzyme, known as aldehyde dehydrogenase 2, helps to convert toxic acetaldehyde into nontoxic substances. But some people, particularly people of East Asian ancestry, carry a defective version. So, acetaldehyde tends to build up in their bodies when they drink. Heavy drinkers who carry this enzyme defect are more prone to esophageal cancer as well as head and neck cancers.

Little-known Risk

If this research is news to you, you’re not alone. Data from the American Institute for Cancer Research shows that roughly 60 percent of Americans are in the dark when it comes to alcohol’s cancer risk.

That’s why health groups in the United States are now pushing for an update to warning labels on alcoholic beverages. “Government Warning: According to the Surgeon General, consumption of alcoholic beverages can cause cancer, including breast and colon cancers,” is the proposed new language.

“Despite all of the evidence, and the scientific consensus around it, most consumers are not aware that alcohol causes cancer,” said Thomas Gremillion, the Director of Food Policy at the Consumer Federation of America, in an email to Discover. The non-profit consumer advocacy organization is one of several groups that signed a letter to government regulators requesting updated labels.

But for others, the science on alcohol’s cancer risk is less settled. The American Beverage Institute, a lobbying group supporting the restaurant industry that strongly opposes the labeling request, says they wouldn’t do much good.

“Americans are already aware of the real dangers that arise from alcohol abuse and do not need the government to repeat the guidance. Adding a new label on alcohol products is not going to reduce binge drinking and other dangerous behaviors, but it may unnecessarily frighten Americans who want to enjoy a drink with dinner,” said Jackson Shedelbower, a spokesperson for American Beverage Institute, in an email to Discover.

Would a greater awareness of alcohol’s cancer risk change behavior? It’s hard to say. But a survey of middle-aged Australian women in 2019 found that warnings about an increased risk of cancer probably wouldn’t make make them drink less. Negative impacts on weight, relationships and lifestyle were more likely to make them abstain, the women indicated.

But, as we’ve seen from previous public health campaigns, you can’t change awareness overnight. Gremillion says that similar to tobacco, a sustained effort to raise awareness of the link between alcohol and cancer is needed. But turning alcohol into “the new cigarettes” isn’t anyone’s intent. “No one wants to go back to prohibition, but the government should help consumers to make informed decisions,” Gremillion said. “Some consumers may learn of the risks, and decide to drink less or stop drinking altogether. Others may choose to continue drinking, because of perceived cardiovascular benefits or because they simply enjoy drinking alcohol. Whatever the case, consumers have a right to know.”

Sure, it’s a little intimidating to pair wine or beer with dinner—there are scores of articles and guides, all of which go through elaborate complement rules before finally telling you “pick what you want, your tastes matter the most.” But even if the pairing dilemma gets a bit exhausting every now and then, there’s good reason to keep doing it: wine and beer might actually help you digest.

On the cusp of a season basically, shamelessly dedicated to consuming vast quantities of food and drink, that’s pretty good news. It’s not entirely certain why, though several studies have been done suggesting that ethanol—in certain concentrations and delivery systems—can stimulate something called “gastric emptying,” a pretty unglamorous phrase referring to digestion in the stomach.

And we’re not talking pure ethanol (thank goodness). In one study, beer and white wine (a low ABV white wine, in fact) were found to have “significantly accelerated gastric emptying in comparison with ethanol of the same concentration.”

Interestingly, the amount of ethanol also matters. Too little obviously won’t do much at all to help you digest that burger, but neither will too much. According to another study, “beverages with a higher ethanol content (whisky, gin, cognac) do not stimulate gastric acid secretion or release of gastrin” (sorry Scotch-and-burger fans). It’s beverages like beer and wine that kinda hit the sweet spot. In that same study, they found “lcoholic beverages with low ethanol content (beer and wine) are strong stimulants of gastric acid secretion and gastrin release, the effect of beer being equal to the maximal acid output.”

Of course, this being science, there has to be disagreement. Another study, where each subject was given two glasses of beer, wine, or water with a meal, found that “no additional effect of beer, wine or spirits on this postprandial response was seen.” (PS, we had to look it up, too. Postprandial literally means “after a meal.”)

But this study was done before the beer and white wine experiment (seriously, can we get in on this science?), so we’ll choose to believe the latest scientific data, because that’s the most responsible thing to do, and it means we get to have a glass or two of wine or beer in the midst of annual holiday gorging.

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