A few months ago I read an article on the health benefits of beer. A Japanese brewing company called Suntory launched a new light beer called Precious, which contained a couple grams of collagen in each can (I kid you not). Suntory asserted that drinking collagen, a protein that contains amino-acids, which provide elasticity to your skin, can potentially have the same effects as injecting it. Collagen is the main ingredient used in all those filler injections available at your local plastic surgeon practice. It makes your skin look plump by smoothing out lines and wrinkles.
There is, however, no scientific evidence that drinking collagen will achieve the effects mentioned earlier. This is for one very important biological reason. Since collagen is a protein, your digestive system will simply break it down before it even reaches your skin.
So there you have it, collagen-fueled beer is not the fountain of youth after all, but regular beer does come with many surprising health benefits, from putting a smile on your face all the way to sheer madness.
No but seriously, beer is just as healthy as a glass of red wine (yes, really!). Let us not forget that scientists mostly examine the benefits of moderate drinking patterns, moderate being the operative word here.
But, let’s not drift off. Beer and health benefits. Let’s get started. It all has to do with these chemicals called polyphenols. Ever heard of them?
In this article I will provide you with healthy reasons to enjoy a cerveza once in a while:
Let’s start off by briefly explaining what hops are. Yes, hops. The female flower of the hop plant, which provides beer with its pungent, bitter taste. These light green buds are also full of chemicals known as bitter acids, which are super healthy. As stated by a 2009 laboratory study published in Molecular and Food Research, bitter acids help to fight inflammation.
In his (relatively) new book, The Diet Myth: The Real Science behind what we eat (Spector, 2015), Tim Spector argues that everything we know about losing weight is wrong (yes, I know what you’re thinking). For example, did you know that drinking certain Belgian beers can be actually good for your gut bacteria, which in turn can boost efficient digestion.
Also, beer helps to fight the formation of kidney stones. According to a study published in 2013 people who drink an average amount of beer are 41 percent less likely to get kidney stones.
Here’s more info you probably didn’t know; beer has just as many calories as skimmed milk or orange juice (bet you didn’t see that one coming). Never mind the fact that it is very unlikely you will ever drink eight pints of skimmed milk, but that’s besides the point. Guinness even has LESS calories skimmed milk. The Guinness brewery released some statistics not so long ago showing that its heavy, dark brew even has less calories than regular beer.
Believe it or not, back in the day (around 1920s), beer was known as the elixir, a rich source of vitamins B, which ranged from niacin to pantothenic acid, not to mention vitamins B6 and B12, folate (family of nutrients that can help safeguard birth defects of the brain and spine). Vitamin B6 is super heart-healthy and known to be really helpful on a cellular level.
A recent study examined the role of Xanthohumol, a compound in the hops used to flavour beer. The researchers concluded that based on the scientific evidence, this compound is able to protect the brain from degenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
On the moderate drinking note, here’s an interesting fact. The Harvard School of Public Health released a study that showed that moderate drinkers were 30 to 35 percent less likely to have a heart attack than non-drinkers.
The more interesting results by far, came from a study published in The European Society of Cardiology in 2013. The data was collected from a whooping 196,604 regular clients of a large supermarket chain in France. The idea was to categorise purchased food items into three categories: healthy foods, unhealthy foods, and others. After that, they calculated the number of purchases among those who drank wine, those who drank beer, those who drank other types of alcoholic beverages, and those who did not drink alcohol at all.
What do you think they found?
The results showed that wine drinkers purchased healthy foods more often than those who did not drink any alcohol or those who drank beer. Altogether, beer drinkers made the least number of healthy food purchases.
Evidently, this study is a prime example of a culture-specific examination and may potentially have more to do with the French eating patterns rather than either wine or beer. That being said, any beer drinker that’s good at their job should be wary and buy broccoli instead of, say, those yummy salt and vinegar chips once in a while.
So here is my advice ladies and gents:
- Drink your beer in a well-chilled pint glass. Keep your glass in the freezer for a couple hours so it’s all white and frosty. Tilt the glass and pour that stream of refreshment down the side. You should always tilt the glass to make sure you get the perfect amount of bubbles at the top.
- Beer is also a great ingredient to add to soups, marinades and other culinary whole-grain masterpieces (stay tuned for all these recipes). It can also replace broth stock or plain water. Once the alcohol cooks off, it adds a delicate flavour and aroma to the mix.
- Leftover beer also has its perks. Simply dump it over your head (yes, I am serious). Beer is great for refurbishing life and shine into your hair by nourishing and smoothing strands. I will soon publish a great organic beauty tip on beer…so stay tuned!
So for all of you that had bitterly written beer off, it is coming back with a vengeance and is here to stay. All you can do now is strategically place it into your beverage order when you’re watching the game or hanging out with friends. But remember, moderate is and stays the operative word, ’cause too much of a good thing…..
Hansel B, Roussel R, Diguet V, et al. (2003) Relationships between consumption of alcoholic beverages and healthy foods: the French supermarket cohort of 196,000 subjects. The European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
Ferraro PM, Taylor EN, Gambaro G, et al. (2013) Soda and other beverages and the risk of kidney stones. Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
Spector, T (2015) The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. London, England.