How Drinking Beer Can Be Good for Your Health

beer_healthMost people think of beer as an occasional indulgence or a dangerous substance to be avoided. As a result, the health benefits of beer usually go unnoticed. However, recent research shows beer carries several health benefits. Today, we’re going to highlight some of those benefits to help you enjoy an occasional cold glass of beer without guilt.

It’s Not Only About Alcohol

Beer is an alcoholic beverage, so alcohol is considered its main ingredient. Beer is made up of several non-alcoholic components though, and some of these may have positive effects on serious illnesses. For example, a recent study from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health indicates moderate beer consumption may aid in pancreatic cancer prevention. Components such as egallic acid, quercetin, and resveratrol all help reduce pancreatic secretions. This, in turn, reduces the stress on cells in the pancreas, preventing the uncontrolled mitosis that leads to pancreatic and other cancers. When tested on mice, over 2,000 non-alcoholic beer ingredients, both organic and inorganic, had positive effects on carcinogens and other pathogens. Additionally, some studies have found the hops used to make beer are high in nutrients like silicon, which can inhibit progression of hormone-based cancers, osteoporosis, and other bone diseases.

Other Physical Benefits

Even if you’re not at risk for cancer, beer carries a myriad of other physical health benefits. For example, many people avoid beer because they’re afraid of getting a “beer gut.” Actually though, beer contains many of the same nutrients as whole grains because it’s made from barley and wheat. Most beer brands are also high in essential minerals like phosphorus, calcium, and potassium; some brands contain as much as 92 grams of potassium alone.

Additional research has found moderate beer consumption helps prevent heart problems. Italian researchers recently discovered consuming just a pint of beer a day can improve your heart health. The researchers discovered the people in their study who drank beer regularly had a 42% lower risk of heart disease compared to non-drinkers.

Although beer and other alcoholic beverages get blamed for contributing to type 2 diabetes, medical experts have discovered moderate beer consumption may lower your risk of the disease. Be aware though, that the risk of type 2 diabetes only decreased in men who didn’t already drink to excess. To reap this health benefit, it’s better to enjoy no more than two beers once or twice a week.

Finally, Finnish researchers recently studied their countrymen and found that drinking beer daily may decrease the risk of kidney stones by about 40%. Researchers speculate high fluid intake – which leads to bathroom visits – helps the kidneys function well. Researchers also found hops slow the progression of calcium through the body. Therefore, the calcium isn’t absorbed as easily and is less likely to solidify into kidney stones.

Mental Health Benefits

When most people think of beer, they don’t place improved cognition in the same thought. If anything, beer is usually associated with lowered inhibitions and impaired brain functions. The New England Journal of Medicine reveals beer consumption, however, may improve cognitive function and decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, especially in a surprising population – elderly women. Studies from this journal indicate moderate beer consumption improves memory and complex reasoning. Once again, the benefits go back to hops, as well as certain flavonoids in beer like xanthohumol. A slight increase in xanthohumol levels helps form and retain memories, adapt to environmental changes, and work on complex problems. This can be particularly helpful for young people, although researchers caution teens and young adults against taking this information as a license to drink. Researchers indicate it’s better for young adults to get their xanthohumol levels from supplements and good nutrition rather than relying on beer exclusively.

Beer usually gets a bad reputation for being a gateway to alcoholism and causing impaired physical and mental health. Indeed, drinking to excess does cause these deficits and should be avoided. However, studies continue to show beer has many untapped health benefits about which we should educate ourselves.