On the Perks of Positive Psychology and Positive Parenting

Positive psychology has taken traditional psychology to a whole other level.

Let me first begin with some definitions. What is positive psychology? Basically, it’s nothing more than the scientific study of everyday human strengths and virtues. Moreover, positive psychology focuses on the “average person” with a specific interest in what works, what is right, and what is improving. In essence, positive psychology is an attempt to urge psychologists to adopt a more open and appreciative perspective regarding human potentials, motives, and capacities (Sheldon & King, 2001). Its primary focus is on positive; positive emotion, positive character, and positive institutions (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000).

Regrettably, psychologists still know relatively little about human thriving and how to encourage it, not only because they have not given this question the attention it deserves, but more important, because they have been oblivious to the value of this matter.

Let me illustrate what I mean with an example of the predominant negative bias of traditional psychology. Clinical psychologists have focused the majority of their attention on the diagnosis and treatment of pathological conditions. As a result, there is a constant search for “fixes”, and little attention is paid to the nature of psychological health. For years, practitioners of social cognitive psychology have devoted vast attention to the biases, delusions, illusions, and errors of the human being. Freud’s theory is a prime example of this bias. His theory on the animalistic id has been predominant in theoretical psychology. Furthermore, contemporary terror management theorists give dominance to the fear of death (Sheldon & King, 2001).

Let me give a more specific example. When a stranger helps another person, psychologists are the first ones to see the selfish benefit in the act, unwilling to acknowledge the existence of altruism. So as you can see, the negative bias, once identified, can be found lurking around all corners of psychology literature. It is exactly this focus on bias that is preventing psychologists from perceiving other important human processes and characteristics.

Research findings from positive psychology are intended to supplement, not just replace what is known about human suffering, weakness, and disorder. The goal is to have a more complete and balanced scientific understanding of the human experience. The highs, the lows, and everything in between. Thus, a complete practice of psychology should include a broad understanding of suffering and happiness, especially the interaction between these two.

Happy but dumb? Let’s take a closer look at this world famous happiness myth…

Happy people are stupid people: There seems to be a cultural assumption that happy people are anti-intellectual, delusional, or shallow. Blonde jokes can be quite consoling to shrewd, less popular brunettes. Part of the problem is that everyone knows someone who is brilliant and unhappy. Additionally, everyone knows someone who is successful and not happy.

Well, nothing could be further from the truth. A decade of research suggests that both of those individuals (smart/unhappy, and successful/ unhappy) are actually under performing what their brain can do. The reason I say this it’s because if you raise the levels of positive emotion, the cognitive abilities and success rates go up. The real story of happiness is based on the idea that every person has a range of potential- in terms of intelligence, athletic ability, musicality, creativity, and productivity- and we are more likely to achieve the nirvana of our brain’s potential when we’re feeling positive, rather than negative.

Happiness as a Work Ethic

Achor (2010) took positive psychology to a whole other level and incorporated into the workplace. He sparked a revolution in how companies think about work performance and job satisfaction. His research from Harvard and from Fortune 500 companies revealed that the good o’l formula should actually be the other way around. So, instead of thinking: success brings happiness, we should be thinking: happiness brings success.

In his book, Achor (2010) describes how only 25 percent of your job success is predicted based upon your intelligence and technical skills. This is surprisingly small given companies’ recruitment policies, and the importance of educational attainment in society. The bigger question is: why are we ignoring the other 75 percent of potential? Well, this “silent” 75 percent of long-term job success is based upon your ability to “positively adapt to the world“: optimism, social support creation, and viewing stress as a challenge.

We often wrongly think that the “deep” people are the ones who sulk. The darker the movie, the less fulfilling the ending. The more messed up the painter or the musician’s life, the more creative we assume they were. But this is just simply not true. It actually requires a supreme amount of  depth to be positive and hopeful in the midst of misfortune. In essence, negative emotions stem from the most primitive part of the brain that responds to fear and threat. Basically, seeing the negative is just too damn easy; formulating a cognitive strategy about how to positively respond to challenge requires a much higher-order functioning in the brain.

Researchers like Barbara Fredrickson have found that when we are negative, our brains resort to “fight or flight” thinking about the world. But when we are positive, our brains “broaden and build”, which allows us to create new patterns of success and expand the amount of possibilities our brains can process.

Positive Psychology and Positive Parenting

Even though being a parent often seems like a disconcerting task, the teachings of Positive Psychology can help us sail through rough and troubled waters.

From the propositions of positive emotion and positive relationships, to resiliency and motivation, there is not a topic covered in this emerging science that does not have some relevance to child development. Let’s look at some examples:

  • Psychologists Kirk Brown and Richard Ryan’s research of self-determination theory (2003) shows that children’s social behavior naturally becomes more self-regulated as they grow. Autonomy is not only a naturally occurring part of growing up, but a sign of a healthy development. In studies of children’s abilities to manage their own behavior at school, Brown and Ryan found that autonomy and a greater ability to self-regulate is often associated with greater pleasure and interest in studies, resulting in the ability to handle stresses more effectively.
  • Research has also found that people are happiest, most productive, and most creative when using their personal strengths. The field of Positive Psychology calls these signature strengths, those special skills and abilities that allow an individual to shine. The VIA signature strengths questionnaire for adults has been supported with millions of people across multiple cultures. The childhood version of this survey, VIA Strength Survey for Children, is freely available for children to identify their unique strengths.
  • Philanthropy is known to elevate positive feelings. Though children have limited financial resources, they have much of value to give others. Examples might include donation of toys to needy children, and participating with parents in charitable activities such as working at a food pantry.
  • Encouraging children to examine the known facts of the situation, separating facts from fears. Remind your child  that most fears do not come true, and if they do, the result isn’t as bad as was initially feared. It helps to examine the worst that can happen and decide on a course of action, should it occur.

These are just a few tips that you can implement in your parenting style. It not only provides opportunities for children to experience success on their own terms but it also supports them in learning to notice, name and regulate their emotions.

What are your thoughts?

 

Literature:

Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 822–848

 

 

 

 

 

On Millennial Women, Burnouts, and the Work-Life Balance

 

Ever heard of the term “millennial burnout syndrome”? Well, it exists, and it’s not looking pretty…

This term was coined by Forbes a couple years ago. In her article, Larissa Faw argued that a growing number of young professional women who seem to “have it all” are burning out at work before they reach their 30s.

According to a study carried out in the U.S.,  McKinsey&Company found that for several reasons, women are less likely than men to advance on the corporate ladder. Women’s advancement odds are simply lower at every level. Furthermore, there is a persistent leadership gap in most senior roles.

While women’s and men’s ambition for senior leadership differ, we do share concerns about stress and balancing family and work. However, women are more likely to cite “stress/pressure” as a bone of contention, and this is not solely rooted in concern over family responsibilities. Not only do women cite “stress/pressure” as an issue but also as a number-one obstacle. Men, on the other hand, say balancing work and family is their main concern; and those who have children (men and women) are more likely to say they want to be promoted and become a top executive.

These findings provide us with a valuable insight: the path to leadership is perhaps unreasonably stressful for women. This disproportionate playing field appears to be taking a toll on women in leadership. Senior-level women are consistently less satisfied with their role, opportunities for advancement, and career than men are. The study also found that only 28 percent of senior-level women are very happy with their careers, compared with 40 percent of senior-level men.

It can be asserted that these statistics could be linked to the work-life balance. (Most) women continue to do a bigger share of child care and housework, therefore they are more likely to be affected by the perks of juggling home and work responsibilities. The Women in the Workplace study also found that at every level, women are at least nine times more likely than men to say they do more child care and at least four times more likely to say they do more chores. Even in households where both parents work full-time, 41 percent of women reported doing more child care and 30 percent reported doing more household chores. Basically, according to the statistics of this particular study, women are more likely than men to say they make sacrifices in their career to support their partner’s career.

Even though millennial couples split household chores more evenly, women under thirty still do a majority of child care.

Anyway, let’s go back to the burnout syndrome. In everyday jargon, a burnout is often defined as a work-related process of chronic stress and disengagement. It can definitely take a toll on your work and life.

It can be hard to pull yourself out of the downward spiral, but it is very important to try to understand the disease before drawing conclusions that might not necessarily be true.

Let’s try to bust some common burnout myths:

A favourite myth is that having a burnout means you’re weak and can’t handle stress. Well, sure that’s what your body is telling you. I mean, when you’re tired and over-experiencing negative emotions like cynicism, it is the perfect opportunity for your inner critic to thrive on this and to therefore question everything from the way you work to your sanity. There are, of course, better ways to deal with stress, and surprisingly enough, it has little to do with yoga or exercising more.
Pyschology Today published an article about a month ago with some interesting myth busting insights and strategies on how to deal with burnouts.

In the article, two important strategies are mentioned. The first is knowing your impact. People who perceive their jobs as stressful and demanding do, in fact, report more burnout. However, a study carried out by the British Psychological Society (2007) found that job stress is only linked to higher burnout rates when people feel like they aren’t making a difference. The second strategy has more to do with helping others. UCLA psychologist Shelley Taylor discovered that when we’re stressed, our brains release chemicals that push us to bond and seek others- She named this response “tend and befriend”. Other studies have found that even as people start to burn out, their willingness to help others remain high. One particular study found that for many people, a burnout actually “increases our giving tendencies” by triggering this response.

Another common myth is that having a burnout requires a major work or life change. Well…not really. ever heard of job crafting? In their study Berg. et al (2007) defined job crafting as a process that individuals engage in over time. Most job crafting models involve three general stages. First, employees are motivated to craft their own jobs by one or more factors. Second, employees identify the crafting opportunities available to them and enact one or more ways of crafting their jobs. Third, these crafting techniques are directly associated with outcomes for the job crafter. If carried out properly, job crafting is a way for employees to improve their lives at work in several important ways as well as make valuable contributions to the workplace. Everyone is different, and it is difficult for organizations to create optimal job designs for every individual employee. It should be noted that job crafting theory does not devalue the importance of job designs assigned by managers; it simply values the opportunities employees have to change them.

Another typical myth is that a vacation or a day off will “cure” your burnout. I get that people would think like that. But trust me, it´s one of the biggest misconceptions. Research has shown that vacations do not “cure” burnout. Even though burnout levels do decrease during vacation, they often come back with a vengeance within a week or two after returning to work.

And now, for my favorite burnout myth. If you are burned out it means you are also depressed. Well, turns out ,researchers are still busy figuring it out to what extent they are related. According to Aydemir & Icelli (2012) about 20 percent of burnout cases can be explained by depression, and vice versa. This means, by default, that 80 percent of the time, other factors are at play. Very often a burnout is also perceived as a gateway  illness because it welcomes other type of issues, like for example, physical illnesses. One particular study found that high levels of burnout in women increased different inflammation bio-markers while depressive symptoms did not; among the men in the study, the opposite was found.

To conclude, a burnout is a complex illness, lots of ins and outs. It takes time to unravel all of the pieces that go into the puzzle, but I think the process is totally worth it. If you have the right tools, you can have continual success at juggling work and life, especially us millennials.

What are your thoughts on this topic?

image courtesy of: http://www.thejaggedword.com

Opting Out of Motherhood: A Growing Trend

Oh yes…Our good o’l biological clock, deeply ingrained…or is it?

New data is providing us some juicy facts. More women than ever are opting out of having children. In a survey carried out in the U.S., results showed that half of women between the ages of 15 and 44 did not have children in 2014. This trend saw an increase from 46.5% in 2012, to 47.6% in 2014. Furthermore, according to the New York Times, the general fertility rate in the U.S., as measured by the number of babies women between the ages of 15 and 44 have throughout their lives, has been falling for six years in a row. This phenomenon is also directly correlated to birth control advances. The “pill” has been around for quite some time now, which means women can now freely choose when they want to get pregnant.

Having said that, it is also true that career pressures also play an important role on the urge for a child-free life. Census statistics also showed that women from 40 to 50 were more likely to not have kids if they were in managerial or professional occupations (It should be noted that women over 44 aren’t officially counted in the general fertility rate, since births at that age are still rare).

The growing trend is to get married later and delay childbirth. However, the economy may also be a potential instigator. It is definitely easier to afford one child, than two or more. According to the Census stats, women who did have children were more likely to stop at one; the number of women from 40 to 44 who only had one child doubled between 1976 and 2014.

The women from the Millennial generation are just…not that into motherhood. The Sheryl Sandberg model of balancing career and family life has made a lot of sense for a lot of moms but may resonate less for younger women who are simply not interested in juggling soccer practice with a boardroom meeting. For most women, working is not an option- it is essential. Careers in this economy are not about choices. We are talking about structural constraints here, regardless of economic position. Some data even shows that young women today are more career-focused compared to their male counterparts. Consequently, that shift has had a significant impact on women’s family decisions; because young women today feel their career weighs more on the demographic scale than ever before. Having children has therefore become an option rather than a prerequisite for a fulfilling adulthood.

Unfortunately, socially, women always seem to lose. Despite the fact that having children remains a substantial strain in today’s society, women- employed or unemployed- are often thought of as selfish or strange for choosing not to raise a family. Does it make us selfish? I mean, I think it’s more selfish to have children knowing that you couldn’t devote proper attention to them.

The decision makes sense to me. Opportunities for women, though still limited by ongoing cultural biases, are more far-reaching than ever. There are many ways to lead a fulfilling and productive life without necessarily being a parent. The more educated we are, the more opportunities we have in the labor market. Motherhood is no longer a woman’s destiny, so it seems. Now we can choose for motherhood, and more and more women simply don’t.

I strongly believe that the lack of enthusiasm for motherhood also has to do with women looking around and not liking what they see happening to women once they become mothers. Choosing a life without children could be a potential impeachment against our workplace culture. Regardless of the reasons, most mothers who stay at home with children are penalized later on in their lives by the perception that they “chose” to neglect their career. Furthermore, when they attempt to get back on the horse (euphemism for workforce), their years at home are held against them, often considered a “blank spot” on the resume.

The reality is that women are spending more hours at work, but research also shows that we are spending as much time with our kids as back in the 1970s. Time has become a scarce resource in our lives. We always seem to have less and less of it. A recent study showed that in the U.S., fathers, on average, have about three hours more leisure time per week than mothers. The study coined the term “leisure gap” to highlight this gendered incongruity.

It might sound like I’m gender hating right now. But far from it. It is a perennial truth that men who don’t want children are not necessarily shamed for that choice. However, for young men, having children has become a rational choice. There is no workplace penalty involved. In fact, male workers sometimes get rewarded when they choose to have kids (ever heard of the “daddy bonus”, uh-huh). This so-called “daddy bonus” is based on data showing that male workers actually earn more respect, promotions and salary once they become fathers.

So, based on all this evidence, why are people still shocked that women are opting out of motherhood? Sure, the benefits of parenthood- like the feelings of love from family- are fathomless. Also, raising children is an important part of life for many people. Nevertheless, government and work-related policies make it often pricey for women to have children. Thus, it is not unreasonable for some to question parenthood.

The issue of declining birthrates should not be limited to women only. Birthrates have everything to do with a nation’s well-being, and it is critical for policy makers to know who is, or is not, having children, when and how many. The “why” being particularly important. The effect of this growing trend will be felt by everyone. Fewer babies being born means less human capital, a smaller national economy, and real problems with payments like Social Security, revenue for investment in infrastructure, and national defense.

Even if you are in the minority of women who don’t grow up internalizing the idea that you were put in this earth for motherhood, the mommy parasite doesn’t quiet, it’s all over social media. Luckily, childless individuals are finding more and more support on the internet, with community networking sites like meetup.com (over 20,000 child-free members).

So to wrap up my ranting. Millennials aversion will likely continue to grow. Rather than shun women who make an arguably rational decision not to have children, we should reserve our judgment for policymakers who are still stuck in 20th century policies when it comes to family planning and act as if they are held hostages to inflexible policies and market forces, thereby neglecting the incompetence and corporate wrongdoing that is encouraging this trend.

What are your thoughts on this topic?

Image: https://growingupinamerica.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/american-motherhood/

The Legacy of Marty Mcfly, the Digital Era, and Nostalgic Millenials

And now for something completely different…

I’m sure you’ve all seen them, the awesome Back to the Future movies. If you haven’t then I suggest you cancel whatever plans you had tonight, get some popcorn, and turn your Netflix on (yes, of course it’s on Netflix!) because you are missing out!

Not only are these movies totally awesome but they have also left their legacy in society, ranging from technology to pop culture and science.

When I first watched this movie I must have been 8 years old. I absolutely loved it, watched it over and over. I remember back then everything was dubbed in Spanish so my brother and I could literally quote the whole movie. We knew it by heart.

The 30th anniversary of Back to the Future has yet again instigated popular interest in the franchise. The documentary Back in Time is coming out today. This documentary offers the ultimate fan glimpse into the massive cultural impact of the Back to the Future trilogy.

It’s funny to think that right now, every scene of the Back to the Future trilogy has taken place in the past. Back to the Future’s future, which lies at the end of the chronological end of the movies, takes place in 2015. I couldn’t help to muse on how time keeps moving, but films stay the same. I wonder whether Back to the Future will still have the same cultural appeal in ten years from now.

I personally think that comparing 2015 to the movie is plain boring (yes, you’d be surprised at how many people do this). This includes checking off lists of gadgets that we have and that the movie doesn’t, and the other way around. It seems to me like some people are trying to keep score. So what if Bob Zemeckis thought we would still be using fax machines religiously? (Ok, maybe in Japan).

If you have seen this trilogy as often as I have you begin to understand it differently. See, the movies are not about the future. The movies are constantly prioritising the state of the art technology of back then, while taking it to the next level.

These movies are incredibly transparent when it comes to projecting the decade’s concerns and technology.

Marty Mcfly carries a JVC camcorder and an AIWA Walkman (remember those? They were awesome!). He also wears Nike sneakers and Calvin Klein underwear, garments that were super hot in the 80s. He drinks Tab, and rides a skateboard. So every moment of the movie you are reminded that it is the 1980s, both in terms of fashion and technology.

Fast forward to 2015. Let’s take a look around. The reason why I love watching Back to the Future once in a while is because it reminds me of the 1980s (I’m an 80s fan). If you think about it, back then the technology was not only state of the art, there was an overflow of physical goods. I mean the state of the art technology of the Back to the Future’s future includes self-tying Nike’s (being released this year, I heard) and hoverboards (which exist, but not really). I’m still waiting for Mr. Fusion to come out.

In a society where everything is becoming digital at an extremely fast pace, we find ourselves missing physical tangible goods. Let us not forget that the first Back to the Future movie was released in 1985. This year marked an important moment in the analog and digital epochs.

This got me thinking. As the digital era becomes more ubiquitous, it seems that we are increasingly obsessing with the physical and the tangible. Consumer behaviour is starting to mull over this shift. Now more than ever we are embracing things like old-time typewriters, wristwatches, physical books (remember those?), record players (own two myself), but more importantly face-to-face time (no, not facetime!) with friends and loved ones- all things that are increasingly being rendered fossilised in the digital generation. The more time we spend in the digital world, the more we (should) value the time we don’t spend in front of a screen.

In JWT’s survey “Embracing Analog: Why Physical is Hot“, Frank Rose and Paul Woolmington found that more than two-thirds of American adults sometimes feel nostalgic for things from the past, like vinyl records and physical photo albums. They also found that more than six in ten Americans have greater appreciation for things that aren’t used as much as they used to be, like film cameras and cassettes. Surprisingly enough this is felt by the more younger generations, with 67 percent of millennials (my category 18-35 years old) and 65 percent of Gen Xers (36-48 years old) in agreement.

Even though we’ve always had a thing for goods that vocalise older ways of leaving, objects that remind us of different times strike a brawny chord today, predominantly among digital dwellers. ” Embracing Analog” is essentially a response to the decomposition of so many physical things into ethereal formats. For the consumer of the digital era, this response lies at the heart of a diehard tech-centric lifestyle.

This could perhaps explain why the millennial generation is picking up the practice of handwriting notes to send through the mail (you should try it!). It is a plea to de-tech.

As an ambassador of the millennial generation I appeal to our search for “authenticity”. The “imperfections” on physical objects such as scratches or scuffs are becoming more and more authentic, it gives these goods more “personality”, according to 59 percent of the survey’s respondents, with the millennials leading the way (67 percent) and Gen Xers (60 percent).

In an age where authenticity is pretty much at odds with the digital environment, we seem to be hopeful about face-to-face interactions outdoing face-to-screen interaction.

We are all emotional creatures trying to survive in an environment driven by hyper-connectedness. Our worlds are being tipped towards the rational IQ sides of our brains, leaving an increasing gap in the emotional EQ side. This, in turn, leads us to crave and seek out analog objects and more physical experiences.

So what does it all mean?

It is important to revive older, meaningful traditions that are fading amidst this digital era. People are becoming increasingly nostalgic about the disappearance of physical goods in our rush to technological progress. We are still trying to find ways to fit tangible into this new way of digital living. Brands are increasingly finding ways to position themselves in the driver’s seat when it comes to the proliferation of physical goods, without necessarily being anti-technology.

Our millennial generation is the most nostalgic for our analog past, yet we still have an ingrained hacker ethos. We’ve grown up in a world where established systems turned upside down. The so called “remix culture” has given a different twist to feelings of ownership over goods and content.

Furthermore, the swift shift from physical to digital goods has rapidly outdated many objects. It has come to a point where hacking or reusing outdated items is giving way to the creation of something not only personal and truly unique, but also eco-friendly. Brands can certainly embrace this spirit by facilitating the recycling of old goods into something totally new.

Back to Marty Mcfly. Back to the Future is the movie of a generation. Marty, the skateboarding slacker, shows unexpected moral insight while simultaneously disobeying authority. It’s a movie for the “cassette generation” as I like to call it. The kids who were disassembling tape recorders even before they saw a computer. A generation that was raised to see the past as a boundless archive available for reinvention, and taught that the only way to remake the future is to scour and recombine the past.

We have reached an important resolution point in our old/new digital era. The speed of change is only going to keep accelerating, yet we still haven’t fully grasped the anxiety that results. We’ve gone from a digitally connected (old) world to a hyper-connected (new) world in a very short span of time so we haven’t had the time to fully adapt. We’ve simply been too busy learning and embracing the new, almost neglecting the repercussions.

What’s important now is to understand that emotional connections are more important than ever before. We need to find ways to emotionally connect in more meaningful and riveting way across the digital-analog dichotomy. Now more than ever we are looking for more meaningful emotional experiences and connections. It’s all about rebalancing our IQ and EQ disarray.

Sources: Rose F, Woolmington, P (2013) Embracing Analog: Why Physical is Hot. J. Walter Thompson Company.

To Beer or Not to Beer

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.

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…..

References:

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.