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Can beer really be good for you?


In the news this week is the sort of story that we all love - beer drinking can actually be good for you.

After constant nagging about what we eat, how much exercise we do, how to live our lives, someone telling us that drinking beer can be beneficial offers a welcoming relief.

But how true is the information. The story, mainly carried in the Daily Mail, says that beer is being hailed for its health benefits and vitamin levels and says research suggests drinking beer might help prevent Alzheimer’s. The report mentions that beer is full of good things like the minerals phosphorus, iodine, magnesium and potassium plus beer is rich in calcium which can benefit bones.

According to Dr Stephan Domenig, the medical director of the F.X. Mayr Health Centre in Austria, beer is beneficial because it contains all the essential and many of the non-essential amino acids. He also says that drinking beer can increase the production of bile which can be an aid to digesting fatty food.“ Surprisingly, he also reports that beer is a rich source of fibre.

There are many other sources that confirm beer does have beneficial qualities. Dr Cristobal Miranda of the Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology at Oregon State University has reported that there is an amazing beer and health connection in xanthohumol, a flavonoid which is only found in hops. This is a potent antioxidant that inhibits cancer-causing enzymes.

It is not just in the west that beer is being talked about as a healthy drink. According to journalist Reagan Gavin Rasquinha of the Times of India Group, beer is good because it is low in calories, low in carbohydrates and has no fat or cholesterol. In fact, he says it can help improve your cholesterol because beer helps to flush a system and helps keep HDL levels up. Reagan reports that as little as one beer a day can boost HDL by up to 4 per cent but we were unable to track down the official research he has based this figure on.

But other more verifiable reports on beer come from last year’s study at the Harokopio University in Athens which found beer can help hearts. The researchers there looked at the hearts of a group of non-smoking men after drinking different alcoholic beverages including beer and vodka. It was found that all the drinks had some beneficial effects on the heart, but beer offered the greatest benefits. The highly respected Tufts University in America has researched beer consumption and one aspect that came out of their report was that moderate beer consumption can help protect bone mineral density.

One of the most interesting aspects is the silicon in beer. Researchers from the Department of Food Science & Technology at the University of California have studied beer production to find out more about silicon content in beer. They have come up with the conclusion that beer is a rich source of dietary silicon. Their report says that most of the silicon in barley is in the husk and this is not affected a great deal during the malting processes; although they added that lighter beers contain higher levels of silicon than darker beers because they have less heat stress during malting. Silicon can help fight osteoporosis and might even help to offers the damaged caused by high levels of aluminium which can contribute towards Alzheimer’s.

Beer is also low in sugar compared with many soft drinks and fruit juices.

Goodness, this all sounds excellent, so should we all be raising our glasses to more beer? Well,

drinking too many alcoholic drinks is of course not recommended for anyone. There are also the calories to consider; a normal beer has between 140 to 200 calories. Interestingly, alcohol causes your body to burn less stores fat. This is because the liver makes acetate from the alcohol found in beer, and will burn this acetate for energy instead of burning fat. So beer is certainly not an ideal drink if you are trying to lose weight.

Also alcohol interferes with the release of the antidiuretic hormone in our bodies. This means that liquid will pass through you more quickly and can mean you lose fluid rather than gain it from drinking beer, especially in really hot weather or immediately after exercise or working outside in the sun.

So it seems there while are benefits from beer, it cannot be hailed as a new wonder food or health drink! However, in moderate quantities and added to a well balanced diet, perhaps it doesn’t do the damage that many of us may have believed.

So I will definitely raise my glass to that!


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The above article is part of the features section of called laterlife interest. laterlife interest contains a variety of articles of interest for visitors to written by a number of experienced and new journalists.

It includes both one off articles and also associated regular columns of a more specialist nature such as Healthwise, Gardener's Diary, our regular IT question and answer section called YoucandoIT and there's also 'It could be you' by Maggi Stamp laterlife's counsellor on human relationships. 

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