At this time of year, beer-lovers everywhere celebrate Octoberfest. And believe it or not, Octoberfest is actually a very healthy tradition.
Essentially, beer is a natural product made from plants and yeast. And it contains many natural constituents that support your health.
Of course, yesterday, I told you about the large but flimsy study that found a “small, insignificant” connection between alcohol consumption and cancer risk.
But I follow the science. And many, many long-term, large-scale studies over the past two decades show significant health benefits for moderate alcohol consumption in men and women.
You should always avoid over-indulging, which can harm your health. But as I’ve said many times before, moderate drinking first and foremost reduces stress. It also reduces heart disease. And it can even protect you against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Sure, some mainstream “experts” continue to search for some “magic bullet” constituent of wine, like resveratrol, to account for these benefits. But there’s one big problem with that magic bullet theory: Studies show drinking any kind of alcoholic beverage in moderation extols health benefits. Including beer.
For example, in one study, drinkers who had one or two beers per day showed greater bone mineral density compared to those who drank either fewer or more beers.
Turns out, the silicon naturally present in beer helps stimulate bone-building cells. This effect takes a far more natural approach than the popular bone density drugs that work by poisoning one major type of bone cells. Plus, as I reported in the January 2015 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter, these drugs don’t prevent bone fractures in aging populations after all.
Beer has many other natural effects as well…
In another study, researchers from University of California, Davis (actually north of “silicon valley”) analyzed the silicon content of different beers. They found India Pale Ales (IPA) have the highest silicon content. Plus, IPAs have more hops, which accounts for its bitter taste.
During the era of mercantile expansion, importers learned beers with higher hops content survived the long, hot overseas journeys. Many of these journeys went from England to India–thus “India Pale Ales.” We now know the reason why these hops beers survived the long journey: Hops has an anti-microbial effect. Hops can also be thrown into the brew when it is time to stop fermentation since it halts microbial actions.
Of course, moderate alcohol consumption also benefits heart health. Specifically, it supports a healthy balance of blood lipids (blood fats). But it doesn’t poison cellular metabolism the way stain drugs do. Like alcohol, beer stimulates circulation and also has anti-clotting effects, which keeps blood flowing safely through the body and helps prevent heart attacks and strokes.
For example, in one study in Israel, researchers found drinking one beer a day lowered levels of blood clotting. In that study, researchers gave one “Maccabee” brand beer per day to demonstrate these heart benefits.
Drinking beer also helps prevent kidney stones. In fact, in a Finnish study, men who drank beer had a 40 percent lower risk of kidney stones. It certainly makes sense, as beer contains mostly water. And you have to “keep the flow going” to maintain clear, healthy kidneys. So–the hops in beer does double-duty: It slows the release of minerals from bone, which also helps prevent kidney stones from forming.
And what about for your brain?
Maybe your high school Driver’s Ed or the health teacher told you drinking alcohol destroys millions of brain cells.
Sure–excessive intake can cause brain damage for several different reasons.
But the real science shows moderate alcohol intake supports a sharper mind.
In fact, a classic study published in the New England Journal of Medicine analyzed the alcohol consumption of 11,000 women over more than 15 years. Those who had one drink per day had a 20 percent lower risk of suffering cognitive decline compared to non-drinkers, measured by memory and brain function tests.
Again–it makes sense when you know the science. Alcohol supports blood circulation, which increases delivery of oxygen, energy and nutrients in the blood to the brain, as well as the specific benefits of neurovitamins and phytochemicals in the brew.
Beer also offers benefits when used in cooking…
According to one theory, cooking meat at high temperatures may cause the formation of heterocyclic amine (HCA) compounds, which some believe cause cancer. Beer prevents formation of these HCAs. In fact, a Portuguese study found that marinating steak in beer before cooking can eliminate nearly 90 percent of these carcinogens.
Adding beer to your marinade also contributes to the flavor. Carbonat, a delicious staple of Belgian cooking, uses beer and apparently helps keep all those European Union bureaucrats in Brussels well-fed.
So, when downing a few beers this October, you really can give a toast “to your health.”
Cheers! (Or, as they say in German, Prosit!)
1. Effects of beer, wine, and liquor intakes on bone mineral density in older men and women,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2009;
2.”Effects of moderate alcohol consumption on cognitive function in women,” N Engl J Med. 2005 Jan 20; 352(3):245-53
3. “Nutrient Intake and Use of Beverages and the Risk of Kidney Stones among Male Smokers,” Am. J. Epidemiol. (1999) 150 (2): 187-194