Beer — Drink to your health

“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” — Benjamin Franklin

by Dr. Mark Force —  

Alcohol consumption can be a healthy habit, in spite of all we hear to the contrary. Because we are constantly exposed to the negatives, there’s no need to list the health and societal problems tied to consuming alcohol. Instead, let’s explore the benefits of light to moderate alcohol consumption — and, yes, there are positive elements!

The benefits of wine consumption have been well researched. Ah, yes, the drinking of wine — chic, sophisticated and good for you. Not like that beer-drinking habit that leads to laziness, “beer bellies” and embarrassing behaviors too numerous to mention. Or does it? Is it possible that beer is actually better for your health than wine?

Research has shown that light to moderate consumption of alcohol, regardless of the source, is healthful. Yet moderate consumption of beer may have benefits that go beyond those of wine.

How is beer different? Wine is made purely from grapes, water and yeast. Grapes are an excellent source of sugars, fiber and chromium, but few of those components survive the fermentation and filtering processes. Yeast has loads of complex B vitamins, but, again, they do not appear in the final product due to filtering.

Beer, on the other hand, is made from grains, water and yeast. Common grain sources used in beer are barley and wheat (with cheaper, mass-produced beers relying on corn and rice), both of which are loaded with a variety of vitamins that survive the fermentation and filtering process. And moreover, the vitamin value of the yeast is conserved in the hundreds of unfiltered beers on the market — both on tap and in bottles.

So what does moderation look like? Most of the research agrees that optimal benefits occur somewhere around two alcoholic beverages for men and one for women. Sorry, ladies. Women metabolize alcohol less efficiently than men, as a general rule. (One beverage equals a glass of wine or beer or a shot of distilled liquor.)

Please note that the benefits listed below are lost and you put your health at serious risk by excessive consumption of alcohol. If you are unable to consume alcohol moderately, you are certainly better off not consuming it at all.

The benefits of beer are simple. The better the overall quality of the beer, the greater the benefit. The darker the beer, the healthier it is for you. Canned beer doesn’t count — bottles only. Unfiltered and unpasteurized beers are best.

Beer, as opposed to wine or other spirits, increases bone density, controls inflammation, improves hormone levels and helps in the prevention of cancer. The rules that apply for the health value of beer are basically the same as for wine. These include reducing the risk of heart disease and heart attack, better heart attack survival, regulation of circulation and blood clotting, improved cholesterol levels, improved mental function, better kidney function, increased antioxidant protection, improved sleep and overall health, and increased longevity.

Did you realize how much fun a healthy diet could be? Cheers!

 

Mark Force, D.C., is a chiropractic physician at The Elements of Health in north Scottsdale, Ariz. He practices functional and natural healthcare and is the author of Choosing Health: Dr. Force’s Functional Selfcare Workbook. www.theelementsofhealth.com or 480-563-4256.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 25, Number 2, April/May 2006.

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