A pilot study has finally given us the news we’ve always believed: beer can be healthy for you…just in moderation.
Beer and alcohol tend to get a bad rep. Packed with calories and with the obvious side-effects of consuming too much alcohol (who else has woken up at home at 10am and wondered how they got there?) beer is something to be enjoyed in moderation.
It’s often been claimed (and even proven) that red wine can provide various health benefits, such as helping to lower levels of visceral fat (a type of fat in the body that can lead to several health problems if you have too much of it).
But now a pilot study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry on June 15th 2002, has found that drinking a beer may actually have a significant health benefit. The study, conducted by Cláudia Marques et al. wanted to investigate the effects of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beer on gut microbiota.
What exactly is gut microbiota? Well, as Chemistry for Lifestates, “Trillions of microorganisms line human gastrointestinal tracts, directly impacting their host’s well-being.”
“Studies have shown that when more types of bacteria are present, people tend to have a lower chance of developing chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.”
Put simply, the more diverse your gut microbiome is, the higher the chances of you living a healthy, happy life. And beer, the gorgeous amber nectar enjoyed by millions around the world, just so happens to promote a diverse gut microbiome.
To obtain their results, the research team took a participant group of 22 healthy men who were randomly divided into two groups. One group drank non-alcoholic beers for a four-week period and the other drank alcoholic beer. The researchers took blood and faecal samples before and after the four-week observation period to analyse their gut microbiota.
The results showed that both “non-alcoholic and alcoholic beer increased gut microbiota diversity which has been associated with positive health outcomes and tended to increase faecal alkaline phosphatase activity, a marker of intestinal barrier function.”
“These results suggest the effects of beer on gut microbiota modulation are independent of alcohol and may be mediated by beer polyphenols.”
The research team did add that “because the safest level of alcohol consumption is none, non-alcoholic beer may be the more healthful choice.”
While this doesn’t mean you can suddenly justify a weekend bender with your mates, it does mean that a beer with dinner might not be as bad for you as you thought; and potentially even encouraged (pending, as ever, further research).