Sometimes even referred to as “liquid bread”, beer is one of the oldest and one of most popular alcoholic beverages in the world. Brewer’s yeast, one of the beer’s main components, is known to be a rich source of nutrients and this means that beer may have some health benefits. Does this mean beer is a healthy drink? Let’s look at the pros and cons of beer drinking and decide after.
Pros of Drinking Beer:
- Source of vitamins, minerals and flavonoids. Beer is rich in many vitamins of the B group and in such minerals as magnesium. Barley and hops used in the production of beer are rich in flavonoids, which have powerful antioxidant effects.
- Don’t just believe us:
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has completed an extensive review of current scientific knowledge about the health effects of moderate alcohol consumption. It found that the lowest death rate from all causes occurs at the level of one to two drinks per day. That is, moderate drinkers have the greatest longevity. – source
- Aid against Coronary heart disease (CHD). There is a quite strong evidence that light-to-moderate alcohol consumption has cardio-protective properties. Many research studies demonstrate a lower coronary heart disease incidence among moderate beer drinkers. These moderate drinkers are at lower risk of CHD-related mortality than both heavy drinkers and abstainers. The vitamin B6 in beer also seems to prevent the alcohol-induced rise in blood homocysteine, a probable heart disease risk factor.
- Cholesterol. Moderate alcohol intake affects many processes in the body, one of which is the significant increase in HDL cholesterol – the good cholesterol. There is supporting evidence for beer’s cardio-protective effect and for its help in altering the ratio of beneficial HDL cholesterol to the LDL cholesterol.
- Kidney stones. Beer consumption may reduce the risk of developing kidney stones. Finnish researches found that there was a 40% lower risk of kidney stones in beer drinkers.
- X-Rays radioprotection. Japan researchers found that beer helps reduce chromosomal damage from radiation exposure.
So now let’s look at the cons of drinking beer. As you will notice, most of these only apply to heavy beer guzzlers. A heavy drinker is considered to be someone that has 2 or more drinks per day. Is that you?
- “Beer belly”. Heavy beer drinking may promote abdominal obesity in men, so called “beer belly”. Drinking beer in moderation will not cause obesity.
- Heartburn. Beer contains powerful stimulants of gastric acid secretion and may provoke gastroesophageal reflux and cause heartburn.
“Alcohol consumption can increase the relaxation of the LES – the natural valve that keeps stomach acid in the stomach and out of the esophagus – allowing acid to reflux” – source
- Blood pressure. Daily beer consumption (approximately 40 g of alcohol) may increase blood pressure.
- Intoxication / Impairment. Even low amounts of alcohol can adversely effects attention and motor skills. In fact, many serious accidents are alcohol related. This obviously includes motor vehicles but can also include falling of your chair, down the stairs, out windows, etc.
This can also include “Beer Muscles” (not to be confused with Beer Goggles) which can make the drinker believe they can physically take on any person in the room. Often times, the drinker is sadly mistaken and winds up sprawled on the floor with severe injuries.
- Dehydration. Only 10% of what you drink is removed through urine and your liver needs water to get rid of the remaining 90%. To do so, the liver is forced to divert water from other organs including the brain, which causes the throbbing headaches. Drinking a glass of water in between beers will help.
- Hangover. Most of us know the pounding head, cotton mouth feeling attributed to a night of heavy drinking. For those that don’t, here is a very good and thorough explanation. For those that don’t heed this warning, here this is how you can get rid of your hangover.
So in my opinion, drinking beer is actually probably good for you as long as it’s done in moderation. If you want to liven things up and suck down a 12-pack, do so at your own risk and drink a ton of water to keep hydrated. Although it goes without saying, this is just my opinion and you should not act on it without contacting your physician and doing your own independent homework.
Written by C. Simmons of HealthAssist.net with added commentary inserted by Jay White of DumbLittleMan.com.