Is Beer Good for You? Surprising Facts About Beer & Your Health
A Brief History of Beer
Beer is one of the oldest and most widely consumed alcoholic beverages in the world, dating back to ancient civilizations such as the Sumerians. The rise of agriculture and the cultivation of crops, specifically barley, led to the creation of beer. However, early beer was not made with hops as we know it today. Instead, it was made from a variety of grains such as barley, wheat, and rye. It wasn't until the mid-800s that monks began using hops to flavor and preserve beer, leading to the more "modern" concept of beer.
During the Middle Ages, beer was highly valued for its potential health benefits. It was often considered a cleaner option than sources of unpurified drinking water, and it provided quick and easy calories and nutrients for working peasants who had little time for full meals. Beer also contains fiber, which is beneficial for digestive health.
Breaking Down the Potential Health Benefits of Beer
Beer has long been associated with potential health benefits. Studies have shown that moderate beer consumption may reduce bodily inflammation, protect your brain, improve cardiovascular health, strengthen bone density, reduce risk for diabetes, ensure a complete daily nutrient intake, and improve oral hygiene. It’s important to note that all of these potential benefits include light to moderate beer consumption. Overconsumption of anything can be bad for your health.
It May Help Reduce Inflammation
The science behind the potential health benefit of beer reducing inflammation centers around the presence of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds found in beer. These compounds, such as polyphenols, are found in the hops and barley used to make beer. Studies have shown that moderate beer consumption may help to reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a natural response to injury or infection, but chronic inflammation has been linked to various diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
One of the key compounds found in beer that has anti-inflammatory properties is xanthohumol, a type of flavonoid. This compound has been found to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Studies have shown that it may help to reduce the levels of certain inflammatory markers in the body, leading to potential health benefits. Additionally, beer also contains other antioxidants such as quercetin, which also have anti-inflammatory properties.
Can Help Protect Your Brain
The presence of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds can also contribute to bettering the brain. Studies have shown that moderate beer consumption may help to protect the brain from damage, and may also improve cognitive function. Xanthohumol, mentioned earlier, may also help to protect the brain from damage caused by free radicals and inflammation. Studies have also shown that moderate beer consumption may help to improve cognitive functions, such as memory and attention.
May Boost Heart Health
Furthermore, compounds such as polyphenols are found in the hops and barley used to make beer and may help to improve cardiovascular health by reducing the risk of heart disease, lowering cholesterol levels, and decreasing the risk of heart attack.
Polyphenols, a type of antioxidant found in beer, may help to improve cardiovascular health by reducing the risk of heart disease. Studies have also shown that moderate beer consumption may help to lower cholesterol levels, which is a major risk factor for heart disease. Additionally, beer contains silicon, a mineral that helps to strengthen the bones and blood vessels, which can also have a positive impact on heart health.
Can Help Improve Bone Density
The science behind the potential health benefit of beer improving bone density also centers around the presence of silicon. Silicon is an important nutrient for bone health as it helps to strengthen the bones and blood vessels. Studies have shown that moderate beer consumption may help to improve bone density, particularly in postmenopausal women, who are at a higher risk for osteoporosis.
May Reduce Your Risk of Diabetes
Studies have shown that moderate beer consumption may help to reduce the risk of diabetes (by about 30 percent!) by improving insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism, which means that cells in the body respond better to insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps to regulate blood sugar levels, and improved insulin sensitivity can help to keep blood sugar levels in check. Additionally, moderate beer consumption may help to improve glucose metabolism, which is the process by which the body converts food into energy.
Helps Ensure a Complete Daily Nutrient Intake
You might be surprised to learn that beer can help ensure a complete daily nutrient intake. Beer is made from ingredients such as barley and hops, which are both sources of essential vitamins and minerals. Barley, for example, is a good source of fiber, while hops contain compounds that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Beer also contains small amounts of protein, although it’s not a significant source of this nutrient. Additionally, the alcohol in beer can aid in the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B and iron.
Can Help Improve Oral Hygiene
Finally, perhaps most unexpectedly, beer can be good for your oral health. Drinking beer, particularly beer that is high in hops, can help to strengthen your tooth enamel. This is because hops contain polyphenols, which are compounds that have been shown to have antibacterial properties. These properties can help to reduce the growth of bacteria in your mouth, which can lead to a reduction in tooth decay, plaque, and gum disease.
Another benefit of beer for your teeth is that it can help to increase the flow of saliva in your mouth. Saliva is important for oral health because it helps to neutralize the acid produced by bacteria in your mouth and wash away food particles. Beer, particularly beer that is high in hops, has been shown to increase the flow of saliva, which can help to keep your teeth and gums healthy.