13 Health reasons to drink beer
By Moritz Kallmeyer
Master Brewer of Drayman’s Brewery & Distillery, Silverton Pretoria, February 2003
Medical studies have over the years consistently demonstrated that moderate consumption of beer can be part of a healthy lifestyle.
- Drinking beer is good for your liver!
Drinkers of beer can get rid of poisonous heavy metals like lead and copper up to five times more effectively than tee-totalers. Alcohol causes the small blood vessels in the liver to expand which speeds up metabolism. (Beer Net Publication, April 2001 Biological Institute, University of Charkov, Prof. Anatolij Bohkov)
2. It lowers your risk of heart attacks.
- Those drinking beer on a daily basis, averaging 4-9 litres of beer per week, have the lowest rate of heart attacks. Their risk is approximately 50% lower when compared to non-drinkers. (Bobak et al 2000; Hoffmeister et al 1999; Kitamura et al 1998).
3. It prevents cholesterol from oxidizing.
- Hop compounds xanthohumol and quercetin, both strong antioxidants are very effective in their ability to prevent LDL (the bad form of cholesterol) from oxidation. When LDL is oxidised it will be laid down on the artery wall causing them to narrow, thus increasing the chances of blockage and heart attacks (Miranda et al 2000). Antioxidants are thought to be able to quench and inactivate the free radicals, which may cause the types of cellular damage that can lead to both cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer.
4. It boosts your antioxidant levels.
- Recent studies have turned its attention to the anti-oxidative role of plant polyphenols in general, their beneficial influence on various aspects of health and in particular, their role in dealing with dangerous free radicals within the body. Analysis can show how much of these good compounds are in beer- but can it be absorbed (called bioavailability) by humans and hence have a positive effect on health? Yes! The malt-derived antioxidant ferulic acid is 100% absorbed by humans (compared to 11-25% absorption of ferulic acid from a tomato). The total level of antioxidants in the blood increased significantly after just a single glass of ale, again proving that antioxidants in beer are well absorbed (Ghiselli et al 2000) Not that any person in his right mind would settle for just a single glass!
5.It boosts vitamin B6; B12; folate and mineral levels.
- If compared to wine and spirits, beer is the only beverage that contains significant levels of vitamins. High homocysteine (Hcy) levels in the blood are associated with increased risk of CVD. Vitamins like B6; B12 and especially folate (all naturally occurring in beer) are now recommended as part of doctors orders to be taken daily to control elevated levels of Hcy (Walker, BRI, 2001). The minerals in beer come from both the malt and the brewing liquor. The beneficial ratio of potassium to sodium is particularly important in relation to cardiovascular disease.
6. Keeps homocysteine (Hcy) levels low.
- Van der Gaag and his colleagues found that drinking wine and spirits increased serum Hcy levels, where as, counteracted by folates and vitamin B6, beer consumption had no influence. A clear case of beer should be first for thirst!
7. Drinking beer boosts your soluble fibre intake and lowers cholesterol.
- One of the most effective forms of soluble fibre for lowering cholesterol is betaglucan, which is the predominant form of fibre in beer. Beers with high malt content like craft beers may provide up to 30% of the recommended daily fibre intake (Gromes et al 2000).
8. Drinking beer helps combat cancer, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and other immune system attacking diseases.
- Hops contain compounds that are unique and rare in nature –like prenyl flavonoids (8PN) which are phytoestrogens that are natural plant based compounds, which mimics the natural oestrogens in the body (Bingham et al 1998). The highest 8PN levels in beers have been found in dark and bitter ales and stouts and from craft breweries where whole hopping is practised.
9. Beer ensures healthy bones.
- Beer has a nutritional benefit that promotes healthy bones and connective tissue (Dr Jonathan Powell, Kings College, London). Because of the brewing process, silicon is leached from barley grain in a form that is readily accessible to the body.
10. Beer protects against gallstones.
- Prof. Oliver James, from the school of clinical medical studies at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, says that beer protect against gallstones, kidney stones and the bacterium Heliobacter pylori, which is directly linked to stomach ulcers and cancer.
11. Hoppy beer protects against cataracts.
- Certain hop flavonoids, in particular xanthohumol and its isomerised form isoxanthohumol, can show positive effects against heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, cataracts and certain forms of cancer.
12. Beer promotes sleep.
- A famous vitaminologist Professor Steep from Germany prescribes beer (not drugs) for insomnia. Two vitamins, lactoflavin and nicotinic acid that are present in beer are the secret weapons that promote sleep. The same two vitamins also speed up bone degeneration after a fracture and prevent low blood counts. Hops in beer itself is a natural sedative that also promotes sleep.
13. Beer reduces risk of thrombosis
- The flavonoids that are present in roasted malt, also to a lesser extent in hops and barley, prevent blood platelets from clamping together –making the blood less sticky – therefore decreasing your risk of blood clotting that can cause heart attacks or thrombosis.