Beer health benefits

Dr. Vikas Sharma, Dr. Vivak Arya
Beer is a natural drink and historical evidences indicate its common use since ancient times for medicinal and religious purposes. Various antique recipes proved widespread production back to 5000 years ago. Beer is actually the most consumed alcoholic beverage in the EU. High level of consumption has led some research to focus on the nutritional appropriateness of beer, merely considering health aspects, for example, the characteristic of beer is the high content in phenolic compounds. The consumption of polyphenol-rich foods, like beer, is a well-accepted factor involved in the prevention of oxidative stress-associated diseases. Traditionally, beer is obtained from as little as four basic ingredients: barley, hop, yeast and water. The first two ingredients naturally contain phenolics, however during beer production, these molecules undergo chemical modifications and new molecules are formed, influencing both the yield and final characteristics of a beer. Aroma, flavors, taste, astringency, body and fullness are the result of the metabolic activity of microbes on raw materials and scientific evidences suggesting that they are all influenced by phenol content.
Health Benefits Of Beer
Prevents diseases of the heart and circulatory system: Beer is used for preventing diseases of the heart and circulatory system including coronary heart disease, “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis), heart failure, heart attack, chest pain (angina) and stroke. It is also used to reduce the chance of death from heart attack and from another heart condition called ischemic left ventricular (LV) dysfunction. Beer is thought to help prevent heart disease by increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as “good cholesterol.” Also, the vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) contained in beer can help lower homocysteine levels, a chemical considered to be one of the risk factors for heart disease.
There is some evidence that drinking alcohol can benefit the heart. Drinking one alcoholic beverage per day or drinking alcohol on at least 3 to 4 days per week is a good rule of thumb for people who drink alcohol. But don’t drink more than two drinks per day. More than two drinks daily can increase the risk of over-all death as well as dying from heart disease.
Congestive heart failure (CHF): There is some evidence that consuming one to four alcoholic drinks per day reduces the risk of heart failure in people aged 65 years or older.
Reduces risk of diabetes: People who drink alcohol in moderate amounts seem to have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. People with diabetes who consume alcohol in moderate amounts seem to have a reduced risk of coronary heart disease compared with non-drinkers with type 2 diabetes. The risk reduction is similar to that found in healthy people who consume light to moderate amounts of alcohol.
Reduces the formation of tumor and stones: Beer is also used to reduce the risk of prostate cancer, breast cancer and other cancers. Some people use beer to stimulate the appetite and digestion and to increase the flow of breast milk. It also reduces the risk of osteoporosis (weak bones), gallstones and kidney stones.
Maintain thinking skills with aging: Beer is also used for preventing decline of thinking skills in later life. Elderly men who have a history of drinking one alcoholic drink per day seem to maintain better general thinking ability during their late 70s and 80s compared to non-drinkers. However, drinking more than four alcoholic drinks per day during middle age seems to be linked with significantly poorer thinking ability later in life. It also reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. There is some evidence also that light to moderate consumption of alcoholic drinks can reduce the risk of death from any cause in people who are middle-aged and older.
Preventing ulcers : There is some evidence that moderate to high consumption of alcohol (more than 75 grams) per week from beverages such as beer and wine can reduce the risk of Helicobacter pylori infection. H. pylori is the bacterium that causes ulcers.
Side Effects Of Beer
Beer is likely safe for most people when used in moderation. This translates to two or fewer 12 ounce glasses a day. Drinking more than this at one sitting is possibly unsafe and can cause a lot of side effects, including: flushing, confusion, trouble controlling emotions, blackouts, loss of coordination, seizures, drowsiness, trouble breathing, hypothermia, low blood sugar, vomiting, diarrohea, bleeding, irregular heartbeat and others. Long-term use can lead to alcohol dependence and can cause many serious side effects, including: malnutrition, memory loss, mental problems, heart problems, liver failure, swelling (inflammation) of the pancreas, cancers of the digestive track and others.
Special Precautions & Warnings
Pregnancy: Alcohol is LIKELY UNSAFE to drink during pregnancy. It can cause birth defects and other serious harm to the unborn infant. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy, especially during the first two months, is associated with significant risk of miscarriage, fetal alcohol syndrome, as well as developmental and behavioral disorders after birth. Don’t drink alcohol if you are pregnant.
Breast-feeding: Alcohol is also LIKELY UNSAFE to drink when breast-feeding. Alcohol passes into breast milk and can cause abnormal development of skills that involve both mental and muscular coordination, such as the ability to turn over. Alcohol can also disturb the infant’s sleep pattern. Despite a rumor to the contrary, alcohol also seems to reduce milk production.
Surgery: Beer can slow down the central nervous system. There is a concern that combining beer with anesthesia and other medications used during and after surgery might slow the central nervous system down too much. Stop drinking beer at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
High blood pressure: Drinking three or more alcoholic drinks per day can increase blood pressure and can make hypertriglyceridemia and insomnia condition worse.
Asthma, gout and porphyria: There have been occasional reports of asthma triggered by drinking beer and there is evidence that using alcohol can make gout and porphyria (a blood condition) worse.
Mental problems: Drinking three or more drinks of alcohol per day can make mental problems worse and reduce thinking skills.