If you feel guilty about having a couple of beers at the end of the reading, this feeling will pass. Contrary to popular belief, science has shown that the consumption of beer can bring surprising and unexpected benefits to our health, which go beyond the feeling of relaxation that is felt when uncorking a cool bottle with friends at the end of a meal. long day ... Provided that the consumption of beer is always moderate and guided by common sense, otherwise, as with all alcoholic beverages and excesses in general, it can become an unhealthy habit. Uncontrolled drinking represents irresponsible behavior towards oneself and others. According to the national and international guidelines shared by the scientific community, a daily quantity of alcohol is considered moderate that does not exceed 2-3 Alcoholic Units (AU) for men, no more than 1-2 Alcoholic Units for women and no more. 1 AU for the elderly. One AU corresponds to approximately 12g of ethanol and is on average contained in a 330ml medium-strength beer can (up to 4.3% alc.vol), so men can drink up to 3 330ml cans of beer while women and the elderly can drink 2 and 1 respectively.
Below are the benefits that could change the perception of consuming this ancient drink.
The first evidence relating to the consumption of beer can be traced back to the seventh millennium BC, in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia (the land where the craft of the "brewer" was born). Even the Egyptians also made children and babies drink beer, mixed with honey and water, as they considered it a medicinal drink, useful for mothers with little milk. The Sumerians used beer to accompany the deceased during funerals and to ingratiate themselves with the deities. According to the Babylonian code of Hammurabi, the oldest collection of laws, the craft of the brewer was taken very seriously, so as to sentence to death those who did not strictly follow the regulations for the production and sale of beer. In the Bible, the consumption of beer was associated with the Jewish holiday of Unleavened Bread (at Passover). In Europe, the production of beer initially spread in the Celtic and Germanic civilizations while during the Middle Ages beer became the drink that we all know well today as hops were added and the water used was boiled and then sterilized, becoming a real tonic. . During the industrial revolution, beer moved from artisanal to large-scale production.
What is beer
Beer is one of the most widespread and oldest alcoholic beverages in the world, obtained through alcoholic fermentation, with some types of yeast, of sugars derived from germinated and dried barley (malt). Subsequently the malt will undergo an aromatization process and a second process during which, through the addition of different types of hops, it will be given a certain degree of bitterness. The most used yeast strains are the Saccharomyces cerevisiae (commonly used in bread making and wine production) and the Saccharomyces carlsbergensis (used for the production of LAGER beers, or bottom fermentation). Curiously, the more correct denomination of the S. carlsbergensis is S. pastorianus but, having been originally analyzed by the Danish mycologist Emil Christian Hansen, who worked in the Carlsberg laboratories in Copenhagen, he was given the name of the famous brewery.
It is possible to produce beer with all cereals but those most used in industrial production are rice, wheat and corn. Beers that contain only grains are called "alternative beers" and can also be consumed by people with celiac disease. Hops is the main ingredient and additive for the production of beer, rich in acid substances and essential oils, responsible for the aroma and the more or less bitter taste. In addition to hops, other botanical additives used to create new beer varieties include: citrus peel, fruit or syrups that give rise to a second fermentation; plants such as hemp, agave and rosemary; honey (typical of French beers); grape must (typical in Italian craft breweries that gave rise to IGA, Italian Grape Ale); spices such as nutmeg, ginger, pepper, coriander. Alongside industrial production, home brewing of beer has been legalized since 1995 (Legislative Decree 504/95) through special kits distributed by specialized companies even if the necessary equipment is easy to build, so many build their own miniature "laboratory" .
Constituents of beer and hops
Due to its composition, beer has a moderate energy content, between 30 and 60 kcal / 100ml. It consists of about 85% of water while alcohol varies from 3 to 9% as well as the dry extract, between 3-8%. The dry extract is composed of various nutritional principles including sugars; tannins (polyphenolic substances responsible for the physical and organoleptic stability of beer with the function of protection, conservation and coloring); maltodextrins (low-medium molecular weight carbohydrates derived from starch and used as a preservative, dye and source of fiber); B vitamins (essential for the functioning of the nervous system, the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract, the liver and the metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins and for the health of the scalp, eyes and mouth); salts and acids characteristic of hops.
Hops are made up of: flavonoids (known for their antioxidant, detoxifying, immunomodulating properties); essential oils (concentrated oily mixtures of vegetable organic substances, with medicinal properties) composed of xanthumol, tannins, humulene, caryophyllene responsible for the aroma of beer, from floral to citrus, from herbaceous to spicy and so on; resins such as alpha- and beta-acids that give the bitter taste, in contrast to the sweetness of the malt and characterized by antifungal properties; phytoestrogens with calming and anxiolytic, sedative and anti-osteoporosis action.
The benefits of beer
Supply of nutrients
Many doctors, aware of the growing evidence supporting the nutritional and health benefits of moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages as part of a healthy lifestyle, agree that beer is much more like a food than a drink, a kind of bakery in liquid format. Although most studies have focused more on the properties of wine, a 2,000 study published in the American Journal of Medical Sciences showed that, from a nutritional point of view, beer contains many more proteins and vitamins, especially vitamins of group B.
A University of California (Davis) Professor of Brewing Sciences also states that beer also contains much more phosphorus (useful for bones, teeth, kidneys, nervous system, muscles, red blood cell production), folic acid (important for production of new cells, synthesis of DNA and proteins, correct proliferation and differentiation of embryonic tissues, prevention of cardiovascular risk), niacin (involved in the production of energy, metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, good circulation and health of the skin, of the system nervous system and gastrointestinal tract, as well as fundamental in the treatment of pellagra) and proteins.
The professor also claims that prebiotics are contained in beer, not to be confused with probiotics. Probiotics are in fact the so-called “good bacteria”, essential for the repopulation of the intestinal flora following dysbiosis; on the other hand, prebiotics are bacteria that take care of the sustenance and functionality of probiotics. Beer is also a significant dietary source of silicon, useful in the prevention of osteoporosis. The antioxidant content, on the other hand, is comparable to that of wine even if with different characteristics as barley and hops contain different flavonoids than wine grapes.
Keeps teeth clean and eliminates dandruff from hair
A study, conducted in collaboration with Italian researchers (Universities of Pavia, Genoa and Verona), published in 2012 in the Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology, showed that beer is able to prevent and / or slow down the growth and activity of bacteria that produce biofilms involved in the formation of plaque, caries, gingivitis and periodontal diseases. Curiously, another aspect of this ancient drink is its natural anti-dandruff use, thanks to the yeast and B vitamins. Just wash your hair with a bottle of beer 2 times a week to eliminate dandruff and get soft and shiny hair. .
Excellent recovery after training
After an intense workout, there is nothing better than a cold bottle of beer to refuel. The sugars contained in beer are in fact essential to supply glucose and new energy to the body, contributing to the formation of muscle mass. Furthermore, beer, compared to other soft drinks, thanks to its high water content, helps to recover faster from dehydration resulting from training.
Diuretic and detox
As we know, when you drink a glass of beer you feel an increased need to go to the bathroom. It is not a pleasant effect, especially when you are away from home, however it is a benefit for the body since increasing the excretion of urine results in a greater elimination of toxic substances and metabolites that accumulate in the body.
Strengthens the bones
From an early age we have been told that drinking a lot of milk helps to grow strong and resistant bones. However, beer also appears to have this ability. Recently, a 2013 study, published in the International Journal of Endocrinology, showed that moderate consumption of (less refined) craft beers leads to an increase in bone density in men.
This however, fortunately, is not valid for spirits because the benefits do not reside in alcohol but in the compounds in beer that affect the density of the bones. Among these, silicon (SiO2, also present in legumes) plays an important role in bone formation, mineralization and maintenance. This mineral could lead to an improvement in the management of osteoporosis, especially postmenopausal in women.
As already mentioned in the introduction, hops are one of the main ingredients in beer. However, in addition to its aromatic power, hops, for thousands of years, have been used as a "popular medicinal remedy" with a sedative and antibacterial function. According to a 2009 study, the resin acids contained in hops also possess anti-inflammatory properties.
The researchers compared different varieties of hops and found that, in all cases, the consumption of hops through beer helped to block inflammation. Studies were conducted in vitro, administering 3 types of hop acids to fibroblasts, i.e. those typical connective tissue cells responsible for the deposition of cellular matrix but which also intervene in the processes of inflammation and healing in the event of wounds or trauma.
All three classes of compounds tested blocked the production of endogenous pro-inflammatory substances. Finally, the administration of the hop acids in vivo, on laboratory animals, efficiently inhibited local inflammation.
It protects the heart, controls cholesterol levels and improves circulation and anemia
Studies have shown that drinking beer has the same cardiovascular benefits as red wine. The Research and Care Foundation in Italy observed that moderate consumption of beer reduces the risk of heart disease of 31%, thanks to the content of B vitamins and in particular B6 and B9.
In addition, a preliminary study presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Session in 2016 in New Orleans monitored 80,000 volunteers for 6 years and it was observed that beer consumers showed a slower decline in high-density cholesterol HDL or " good cholesterol ”and, at the same time, a reduced risk of heart and atherosclerotic diseases.
That research also showed that moderate beer users had 42% less likely to die from heart disease among those who had already suffered a heart attack. The follow-up report of this study finally observed 30-35% less likely to have a heart attack among beer drinkers than abstainers, also confirming the results obtained in the Italian study.
According to a study conducted in Greece, by the University of Harokopio, thanks to the high content of antioxidants, beer improves blood circulation making the arteries more flexible and therefore decreasing the risk of hypertension.
Finally, one of the main causes of anemia is vitamin B12 deficiency: a glass of beer contains adequate amounts of vitamin B12 and folic acid to counteract anemia. Vitamin B12 is also essential for proper growth, good memory and concentration.
Prevents the formation of kidney stones
Doctors always recommend proper hydration to reduce the risk or recurrence of kidney stones. However, there is a relationship between fluid intake and stone formation, which depends on the type of drink consumed. It is estimated that at least 2 out of 10 men will have a kidney stone or nephrolithiasis in their lifetime.
However, we can run for cover because a 2013 study, published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, observed that, the consumption of beer, together with a healthy lifestyle and proper exercise, contributes to significantly reduce the formation of kidney stones. The researchers involved 194,095 participants and monitored them for 8 years.
At the end of the study it was found that people who drink beer are between 41% less likely to form stones, compared to abstainers, while those who consume high sugar carbonated drinks are more likely to be one of the 2 su 10 which will develop a kidney stone. Other beverages, in a lower percentage than beer, also have a protective function against nephrolithiasis: coffee (both with and without caffeine, -16%); tea (-11%); orange juice (-12%) and red wine (-33%). It appears that the high incidence of stones among consumers of sugary carbonated drinks is associated with the fructose content. In fact, fructose increases the urinary excretion of calcium, oxalate and uric acid, resulting in the formation of calculus.
Contributes to good digestion
Drinking beer after dinner instead of before seems to be healthy. To say it is a study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry in 2012. The consumption of any type of beer promotes digestion as it stimulates the secretion of gastric acid. This effect is partly due to the pro-secretory substances present in the drink including: organic acids such as maleic acid, malic acid, succinic acid, citric acid and hop acids.
Reduces the risk of Alzheimer's and dementia
Researchers at Loyola University in Chicago have found that people who drink beer moderately have a 23% lower risk of getting Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia than those who don't drink beer.
As with bones, the silicon contained in beer appears to have a protective action against those compounds that can damage the brain and lead to the development of cognitive defects. Furthermore, it appears that maintaining the good cholesterol (HDL) levels given by beer improves blood flow to the brain and brain metabolism. Another possible explanation is that small amounts of alcohol would make brain cells fitter. Moderate and responsible consumption of beer positively stimulates neurons to make them more resistant to stresses that could lead to dementia.
It decreases the risk of diabetes
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), in collaboration with Wageningen University in the Netherlands, in a 2011 study published in Diabetes (the journal of the American Diabetes Association), found that middle-aged men who only consume occasionally a few beers a week, or at most 1, up to 2 drinks a day have a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes in their lifetime of 25%.
If moderate consumers reduce their beer intake over time, their risk of developing type 2 diabetes rises and becomes comparable to that of casual drinkers or abstainers. In this study, the researchers tracked 38,000 middle-aged American males over a 20-year follow-up from 1986 to 2006. Alcohol consumption was monitored every 4 years by completing a questionnaire.
From the results obtained, it seems that the alcohol contained in beer, together with the high fiber content, increases the levels of adiponectin, a hormone which in turn increases insulin sensitivity, preventing diabetes.
It can cure insomnia
According to a 2013 study, conducted by the Indiana University School of Medicine, beer, and in particular ALE, STOUT and LAGER, are able to stimulate the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that performs various functions in the brain. in particular by influencing behavior, cognition, voluntary movements, mood, alertness, learning skills and sleep. In fact, dopamine can be prescribed to those suffering from insomnia.
Helps to have clearer vision
Beer can even prevent cataracts. This is demonstrated by a research conducted by the University of Western Ontario and presented at the International Chemical Congress of Pacific Basin held in 2000 in Honolulu. In collaboration with researchers from Canada, it has been shown that beer, especially darker ALEs and STOUTs, can reduce the incidence of cataracts and atherosclerosis by more than 50%, especially in people with diabetes; this is due to the higher content of antioxidants in dark beers, which exert a protective function in the cells of the eye.
It prevents cancer
Can beer contribute to cancer prevention? University of Idaho scientists think so. In January 2017, at the American Chemical Society's National Meeting, researchers presented promising results describing the anti-cancer properties of some key beer ingredients. Among these, some acid and antioxidant substances such as humulons and lupulones contained in hops, are able to stop the division of malignant cells, thus blocking the growth of the tumor.
In September 2017, an all-Italian study, funded by the Italian Association for Cancer Research (AIRC), and published in the European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, demonstrated the antiangiogenic properties of a flavonoid-type phytocompound present in hops, Xanthumol. The team of researchers was born with the collaboration of the Pharmacy Department of the University of Pisa, the vascular biology and angiogenesis laboratory of the MultiMedica Onlus Foundation of Milan, the University of Insubria of Varese and the Irccs Arcispedale Santa Maria Nuova of Reggio Emilia.
This 4-year study focused on the search for new small molecules, derived from Xanthumol, which have been shown to have the ability to reduce tumor angiogenesis of 80%, i.e. the formation of new vessels by the tumor to sustain itself. and spread via metastases. These antiangiogenic substances make the tumor more "hungry" as they deprive it of nutrients and oxygen.
The block of angiogenesis in recent times represents one of the most effective strategies alongside chemotherapy. The group has already patented 2 Xanthumol derivatives capable of exerting a greater antiangiogenic activity than the natural compound, obtained through structural modifications of Xanthumol; both compounds have low toxicity and their discovery paved the way for the future development of synthetic analogues, future candidates as effective, alternative, low-cost and easy-to-produce preventive chemo.
Makes you live longer
A 2010 study, conducted by a psychologist at the University of Texas, showed that people who drink beer moderately have a longer life expectancy than those who don't drink it for the reasons described in this article as it has a positive effect on beer levels. cholesterol, lowering the risk of diabetes and keeping the heart healthy and strong.
Curiosity ... And the "beer belly"?
In common opinion it seems that beer lovers all over the world share the so-called "beer belly", especially as they get older and especially if they are male.
But not all beer drinkers, including many professional sportsmen, have a beer belly, so the question naturally arises: “is beer really the cause?”. According to some researchers and endocrinology experts at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, the cause of the famous belly in men, but also in some women, is the excess calories consumed through an unbalanced and unbalanced diet; any type of food brings calories which, if in excess, increase the fat in the belly.
Alcohol appears to be responsible for the accumulation of fat in the central part of the abdomen. An effect of alcohol on the body is to increase the sense of appetite and often, when you consume beers or alcoholic beverages outside the home, you tend to eat more fatty food (for example carbohydrates and fried foods) than that prepared at home.
The areas where fat accumulates then depend on age, sex and hormonal status. Before puberty, males and females have a similar distribution of adipose tissue; with sexual maturity things change and women accumulate more subcutaneous fat than men, in the arms, thighs, buttocks and stomach.
Men have less subcutaneous fat but have a tendency to develop the typical round belly. The extra pounds accumulated under the skin are less dangerous than those in the abdominal and visceral region. In fact, visceral fat is associated with an increased risk for heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndromes and early mortality.
The beer belly becomes more evident, and unfortunately prominent, with age because, during aging, the caloric requirement decreases as well as physical activity and consequently, it is easier to gain weight. The only solution to eliminate or reduce the accumulation of fat is to carry out regular physical activity, even 30 minutes of walking a day are enough. The good thing is that when you start losing weight, you shed visceral fat more easily as it is more metabolically active.
Finally, some good news is given to us by scientists at Oregon State University, who have said that beer can even help you lose weight.
The study was published in 2016 in the Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics and shows how hop xanthumol reduces the likelihood of developing a metabolic syndrome, characterized by obesity, hypertension, hyperglycemia and elevated bad cholesterol (LDL) levels.
The study was conducted on laboratory mice only, and the researchers eventually stated that humans would have to drink around 3,500 liters of beer a day to get the weight loss effects of Xanthumol; with such a quantity not only the extra pounds are lost but also life.
Therefore it is necessary to extract and concentrate Xanthumol in order to take the effective amount without the side effects of excessive alcohol consumption.
Beer in the kitchen
Beer, as we all know, is not consumed only as a drink but is used in the kitchen in the preparation of many recipes, from salty to sweet. Beer is not only used for flavoring but also for its ability to soften meats put to marinate or hang in it, making their flavor much richer and juicier. Beer can also be used for stewing, obtaining a real stew cooking, but also to blend, just like with wine, taking care not to cover with the lid to allow the alcoholic part to evaporate. Lately, it is fashionable to drown ice cream, especially vanilla or chocolate flavored, with beer, in particular with STOUTs. Alternatively you can use the beer reduction to decorate some dishes. Finally, beer can also be used as a salad dressing in the preparation of a vinaigrette, instead of vinegar, together with mustard. Obviously the type of beer must be combined with the dish to be prepared; these are just a few tips but, given the richness of brewing styles, there are many combinations and possibilities, so let your imagination run wild!
Conclusions and advice
This article has a scientific-popular nature and is purely informative. It does not represent an incentive to consume more beer but to highlight the components that have beneficial activity for the body. Therefore, in addition to a healthy and balanced diet, which also includes the consumption of beer or wine, and daily physical activity, it is possible to take, concentrated, some of the substances present in beer, through supplements, which provide the daily quantity. adequate, without the addition of alcohol and sugars and without excess calories.
At our site you can buy specific products for different needs. For example, for those who practice sports aimed above all at increasing muscle mass, or for those who follow a protein diet, the following are indicated. maltodextrin which keep glycemic levels stable, are rich in fiber and are useful in restoring the energy and fluids lost during training. For the care of health and beauty a wide range of antioxidant products, mineral salts, vitamins, probiotics and prebiotics are also available.