Is Beer Good for Health?

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From old-school favorites to current fads, some could argue that beer lovers have never celebrated the beverage quite as passionately as they are right now. If you're one of them, researchers have identified a few key benefits that beer may have on your longterm health. Salut!

Before we explore what this study uncovered, it might be prudent to note: We're not promoting heavy drinking, or even alcoholic drinking at all. In this meta-analysis, which was recently published in the international, peer-reviewed journal Nutrients, a team of nutrition and food science researchers in Spain examined studies from 2007 to 2020 that had all considered the effects of mostly alcoholic beverages on health. However, some of the studies they reviewed suggested that naturally occurring nutrients in the beer, and not the alcohol itself, were what delivered some of these health benefits. Since the choice of non-alcoholic beers has never been more abundant, parts of this study also mean good news for beer drinkers who abstain from alcoholic beer.

Also important is that the researchers who conducted this meta-analysis found that very moderate beer consumption was essential to experiencing the health benefits of beer. In fact, they suggest just one drink per day for women and two for men is the maximum. Based on those measures, learn what they found about possible health benefits from beer—also don't miss The 10 Best American Cities for Beer, According to New Data.

Moderate beer drinking may protect you against cardiovascular disease.

The researchers state that five of six studies they selected for review identified "a protective effect of moderate alcohol drinking on cardiovascular disease." This was true for individuals who regularly drank up to 13.5 ounces of beer per week when compared to abstainers and occasional drinkers.

Beer may help to prevent diabetes in men.

The researchers state: "Men abstainers had a significantly higher risk of developing abnormal glucose regulation … than occasional beer drinkers, suggesting occasional beer consumption may be protective [against diabetes] in men."

Beer was associated with healthier bone density.

When looking at bone density and risk of fracture among older individuals, the researchers in the current study state that "very low levels of consumption were associated with a decreased fracture risk." For this variable, they suggest "non-alcoholic components of beer may also be involved," as they get scientific by explaining: "Other compounds present in beer (e.g., phytoestrogens such as 8-prenylnaringenin) act synergically with silicon to stimulate osteoblast cells, improve bone structure, and help remineralize bone and teeth."

All this to say, you might not have guessed that a small amount of beer may actually contribute to your bone health for the long haul.

Beer may lower cholesterol.

The researchers highlight several studies which suggested that beer helps promote good cholesterol and regulate the body's processing of bad cholesterol, thanks in large part to the antioxidants in a good brew. It's important to note that this was found when a very small amount of beer was consumed, between half an ounce and an ounce per day.

Beer and Wine: Health Benefits

​Wha​t are the health benefits of alcohol and should you start drinking them daily? The Dietetics and Food Services at Changi General Hospital shares some facts.​

A drink (or two) a day can be beneficial to one’s health. Studies have shown that drinking red wine in moderation lowers your risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Men should drink no more than three standard drinks a day; and women, no more than two.

A standard drink refers to 2/3 of a small can of regular beer (220ml), a glass of wine (100ml) or one nip of spirit (30ml).

Alcohol: to drink or not to dr​ink regularly?

Although drinking in moderation can be good for health, non-habitual or social drinkers should not start drinking alcohol regularly for its health benefits.

For most Asians, drinking is not part of the meal. Hence, when a person starts drinking, it can get out of control and therefore affect one’s health.

"In fact, the nutritional content of beer or wine can be obtained from other more nutritious foods and antioxidants present mainly in fruits and vegetables," said dietetics from Dietetics and Food Services​, Changi General Hospital​, a member of the SingHealth​ group.

According to Singapore's Health Promotion Board, regular and binge drinking have been linked to obesity, mouth, throat and oesophageal cancer, liver cirrhosis, brain damage and memory loss as well as sexual problems, especially male impotency.

Wine’s nutritional content

Wine contains chemical compounds called natural phenols which are classified as either flavonoids or non-flavonoids.

Flavonoids, which are present in red grapes, have antioxidant properties and help reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and age-related degenerative disease.

Tannins, a type of flavonoids, are found in grape skins, seeds and stems. A natural preservative in wine, tannins are believed to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Resveratrol, a type of non-flavonoids under the category of stilbenoids, is a naturally occurring antioxidant. It is mostly found in grape skin; red wine has more resveratrol than white wine. Resveratrol is believed to decrease the stickiness of blood platelets and help blood vessels remain open and flexible thereby reducing high blood pressure.

Besides natural phenols, wine also contains polyphenols which are antioxidants. Polyphenols are believed to lower total cholesterol and blood pressure, lessen the risk of cancer, and stimulate the immune system. They also have anti-bacterial properties.

Beer’s nutritional content

Beer contains mainly alcohol with 7kcal energy per gram. The beverage also has various types of vitamin B, such as vitamin B6, vitamin B2 or riboflavin, and vitamin B9 or folate, which are derived from the yeast used during the beer production process.

Studies show benefits of drinking alcohol in moderation

Cardiovascular disease

In 2011, researchers from the Institute for Population and Public Health at the University of Calgary, Canada showed that there was a 14 to 25 per cent reduction in heart disease in moderate drinkers compared with those who had never consumed alcohol.

In particular, according to a study published in the American Medical Journal in 2008, it was found that persons who only drank wine showed the most benefit, having the biggest reduction in cardiovascular events compared with non-drinkers, heavy drinkers or those who drank other types of alcohol.

Ulcers

Studies have also shown that consuming three to six glasses of wine per week can lower the risk of Helicobacter pylori infection (associated with stomach ulcers) by 11 per cent compared to those who do not drink. Red wine, which has antibacterial agents, is also believed to lower the risk of general infection by 6 per cent.

Other health benefits

Other studies have found health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption related to anti-ageing, lowering the risk of obesity and improving cognitive function.


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