Who doesn’t enjoy a good beer every once in a while – and unfortunately, not without some serious regrets?
The delicious and cooling alcoholic drink made from water, grain, hops and yeast has unjustly gained a bad reputation because of the “beer belly” it is thought to cause.
Moreover, you may still remember the last time you enjoyed your brew a little too much and ended up showing your worst dance moves or embarrassing yourself in front of friends.
Even if many of us feel guilty after drinking a pint or two, beer remains one of the most popular drinks in the world, the third after water and tea.
But is beer that bad after all?
The good news is that drinking a moderate amount of beer from time to time can bring you some major health benefits, so don’t feel wrong again the next time you go out and order a cold beer!
Instead, think about these points:
Providing Valuable Nutrients to Your Organism
Not only is beer fat-free and low in carbohydrates (and it is not a culprit for the so-called “beer belly”), but it also provides a wide range of nutrients that are part of a healthy diet.
A bottle of beer contains:
- Antioxidants which are known to reduce the risk of developing cancer and cardiovascular disease
- Nutrients found in grains (zinc, niacin, riboflavin, vitamins B)
- Minerals which are crucial for the proper functioning of your organism (potassium, calcium and phosphorus)
Moreover, two glasses of beer provide 10% of the daily necessary intake of fiber, thus having a positive effect on digestion and regulating bowel movement.
But where does the “beer belly” myth come from?
It’s simple: an average glass contains 150 calories; more glasses means more calories, and liquid calories are easy to overdo because you don’t feel full like you would do with solid food.
Alcohol also makes you hungry, and drinking beer often without exercising and having a healthy diet will cause abdominal pouch.
This is why experts recommend moderate beer consumption.
Under these circumstances, some people choose light beers because they are marketed to have less than 100 calories, even if they contain the same amount of alcohol.
This may turn out not to be such a good idea though because removing the grains that beer normally contains also reduces its nutritional value.
You don’t need to be afraid of calories and keep track of them obsessively, as long as you have a healthy lifestyle and exercise often enough to burn that extra energy.
Lowering Bad Cholesterol Levels And Keeping Your Heart Healthy
What if we told you that moderate alcohol drinking can help you enjoy a longer and healthier life?
Drinking average amounts of alcohol occasionally brings these amazing benefits to your health:
- Preventing the formation of blood clots
- Increasing insulin sensitivity
- Raising good cholesterol levels (known as HDL or high-density lipoprotein)
- Reducing the risk of heart attack and strokes by 25-40%
The most encouraging results came from a study completed by Israeli researchers in 2003, which showed that drinking one beer (that is 12 ounces) every day for a month causes blood chemistry changes associated with a lower risk of heart attack.
Researchers performed the study on 48 men aged from 46 to 72 and diagnosed with coronary artery disease.
All participants ate a similar healthy diet, rich in fruits and vegetables.
Half of the men were asked to drink a beer every day, while the other less lucky half had to drink mineral water.
Results were telling: 21 out of 24 beer-drinking patients experienced changes in blood chemicals, and their risk of having a heart attack decreased.
- A lower level of “bad cholesterol”
- A higher level of “good cholesterol”
- Elevated antioxidant levels
- Reduced activity of fibrinogen, a protein responsible for producing clots
Don’t you feel like cracking a beer open right now?
Lowering Cancer Risk
Dark beers are particularly rich in antioxidants and flavonoids, which lower the risk of developing cancer.
One of the antioxidants contained by beer, xanthohumol, is known for its anti-cancer properties.
This yellow substance was first discovered in 1913 in hops and over the years multiple benefits were unveiled:
- Preventing prostate or colon cancer
- Killing breast, ovarian, and colon cancer cells
- Helping the body to eliminate carcinogens
- Substituting hormone replacement therapy for women
- Also reducing the oxidation of LDL or bad cholesterol
Consequently, scientists have begun developing “health” beer with a higher level of xanthohumol and genetically engineering hops to increase its xanthohumol contents.
But there’s more you can do to prevent cancer by using beer.
Besides getting the regular six-pack to join a barbecue party, researchers also recommend us to use beer as a marinade.
It is known that grilled meat contains carcinogenic compounds which form when meat juices are burnt by open flames.
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, beer reduces the amount of PAHs or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, thus making your barbecue healthier.
The most effective marinade contained black beer, which reduced PAHs levels by 53% – all due to the high level of antioxidants found in dark beer.
Improving Cognitive Function
Apparently, it looks like having a cold beer does not only make your healthier, but it may also make you smarter!
If you feel guilty about all the beer you’ve been drinking as a student, it’s time to leave regrets behind, since a study performed on mice showed that younger animals had their cognitive function improved after drinking beer (to be more precise, it helped them with the process of forming memories).
The responsible for this positive result is xanthohumol again, which seems to improve brain activity in young people and animals alike.
As part of this study, two groups of mice were given large amounts of beer; unfortunately for the older rodents, the xanthohumol contained by beer had positive effects only on young specimens.
Another positive effect on brain activity was noticed during a study published in the Consciousness and Cognition journal, confirming a thought that may have crossed your mind the last time you got a bit dizzy by drinking beer: alcohol actually makes you smarter.
40 men were asked to watch a movie while solving verbal puzzles; it was found that individuals with a blood alcohol content of .075 were able to solve the puzzles a few seconds faster than the sober ones.
So, if you find yourself stuck and lacking creativity, try a refreshing treat first and you will instantly feel more confident and motivated to find the solution to your problem.
Preventing Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases of our days affecting almost 300 million people worldwide.
Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are two of the main culprits for this metabolic disorder, but having a beer or two every week is not one of the habits increasing your chances of developing diabetes; on the contrary, getting a regular brewed refreshment could actually help you ward off this health condition.
A study performed in 2011 by researchers from Harvard and involving 38,000 middle-aged men found that subjects who didn’t drink before but started drinking beer moderately became less likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Nevertheless, drinking more than a couple of beers a day did not lead to an even lower risk, suggesting once again that you need moderate amounts to enjoy beer’s health benefits.
These findings were also confirmed by the American Diabetes Association.
People consuming moderate amounts of beer have a 30% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, and the epidemic proportions of this chronic disease could be reduced by developing a habit of drinking one drink per day for women, and up to two drinks per day for men.
Lowering The Risk of Fractures And Osteoporosis
Beer may not improve brain activity in older adults, if we consider the study performed on mice, but on the other hand it brings other health benefits and wards off diseases which are common at an older age.
According to a study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, beer may decrease your chances of developing osteoporosis due to these properties:
- Representing a sources of dietary silicon
- Fostering bone growth and development
- Containing xanthothumol, the compound found in hops we have mentioned before which may also be able to lower the risk of getting osteoporosis
Osteoporosis occurs more often in mature women, who besides avoiding fractures and low bone density should also drink beer because it reduces hot flashes associated with menopause.
Regardless of your gender and age, the key is once again not having more than two drinks a day; a study performed at the Tufts University found that moderate beer drinking increased bone density in men by 4.5%.
On the other hand, overindulging and drinking more than two beers a day had the opposite effect – leading to an approximately 5% lower density!
Improving Kidney Health
Moderate beer drinking could reduce the risk of developing kidney stones by 40%, according to a study performed in Finland.
Beer contains more than 90% water and has a strong diuretic effect, encouraging your kidneys to work properly and eliminate toxins from your body faster.
The lower risk of developing kidney stones is caused by a series of compounds found in hops, which make your bones release calcium more slowly; as a result, lost minerals will not have the chance to accumulate in your kidneys in the form of painful stones.
Another study found that alcohol consumption may also reduce the risk of developing gallstones and blockage of the bile duct.
Preventing Winter Sniffles
We tend to associate beer drinking with summertime, but what if you could keep colds away with the help of your favorite brew?
A study funded by a Japanese brewer suggested that beer could be effective against viruses causing flu.
The hops used to produce beer also contain humulone, a chemical compound apparently effective against aggressive respiratory viruses and displaying anti-inflammatory properties.
However, the amount of humulone found in beer is too low to produce significant effects unless you drink 30 cans, so researchers are now working on a way to create beer and other foods containing larger quantities of the anti-flu compound.
Making Your Hair Soft And Shiny
You are dealing with stubborn dandruff, and no shampoo or treatment seems to help?
A common natural remedy for this condition is rinsing your hair with beer two or three times a week.
Beer helps you get rid of those annoying white flakes because of its high vitamin B and yeast contents.
It’s recommended to apply this treatment in the evening, so the scent of beer evaporates until next morning and you don’t make your coworkers wonder what happened to you last night after work.
According to 6-day experiment by Vine Pair, washing your hair just with water and beer helps you reduce the amount of dandruff in less than a week of daily beer treatment.
Apparently, beer will also make your locks become straighter without needing to use heavy styling.
Last, but not the least, introducing the number one reason why people drink beer from the oldest times: feeling relaxed.
Beer, like all other alcoholic drinks, contains ethanol, which acts as a central nervous system depressant and produces psychoactive effects.
Having a cold beer will help you get rid of inhibitions, become more talkative, and even feel euphoric.
Higher dosages however cause less pleasant effects, such as impaired cognition, poor judgment, decreased motor function, lower sensitivity, and unconsciousness.
Lowering stress levels is a crucial benefit, because chronic physiological stress has serious effects on health and increases the risk of developing conditions such as hypertension, ulcer or cardiovascular disease.
Moderate alcohol drinking is a proven successful stress management method and it alleviates specific stress symptoms like depression, anxiety, poor sleep, headaches, abdominal pain, social isolation, and panic attacks.
In conclusion, red wine is not the only alcohol helping you live longer and become healthier; it’s time to switch to beer!
Sure, beer is one of those drinks that we have been told for years to avoid, but it looks like enjoying the simple pleasures of life is the best way to stay fit and healthy.
If you want to experiment these invigorating beer benefits, make sure you choose natural beers, made with whole grains and hops and not containing preservatives, sweeteners, corn syrup, or genetically modified organisms.
And, above all, remember to drink moderately!
What’s your favorite beer?
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