After a hike or a day splitboarding in the backcountry, I often like to enjoy a nice cold beer. Whether it be roadside or at a pub, it's a great way to end a day of roaming. Beer does contain antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients, but shouldn't be considered a post-workout recovery drink. It won't necessarily help with your fitness gains; you want something that won't dehydrate you and generally, you want to have something with protein. I read a few articles to learn more about the health benefits of moderate beer consumption and I want to share them with you! Let me say that one more time, M O D E R A T E B E E R C O N S U M P T I O N. All the studies I looked at, considered moderate beer consumption to be 1-2 beers/day. No more, no less.
Beer contains these things called polyphenols. These are chemical compounds that help to protect our body from oxidative stress which can lead to cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes etc (Tapiero, 2002). The first study I read, did a research review and found that moderate alcohol consumption increased levels of High-Density Lipoproteins (HDL) (Arranz, 2012). HDL is also referred to as the "good cholesterol" because it helps move excess cholesterol from the rest of our body back to our liver, and then our liver gets rid of it. Our bodies do need a certain amount of cholesterol in order to function properly, but too much of it in can result in cardiovascular diseases. Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL) are the "bad cholesterol" because it holds onto fat and causes a build-up of cholesterol in our arteries; this is known as atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis contributes to various heart diseases because the build-up of fat interferes with the flow of our blood. So if the previously mentioned study found that moderate alcohol consumption increased HDL levels, that means that there is more excess cholesterol being removed from our system. Therefore less fat building up in our arteries. Yay!
Type II diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. It occurs when the cells in our body cannot use insulin to break down the sugars from our food into energy. So our pancreas just keeps sending out this insulin but our cells are unable to break down the sugar, so our blood sugar levels keep rising and our pancreas can't keep up. A study that was done in the Netherlands in 2011, by Michel Joosten and his smarty pants friends, looked at the risk of Type II diabetes and alcohol consumption. The study was done on 38 031 previously healthy, middle-aged US men over a period of 20 years. Every 4 years they conducted questionnaires on these men and found that for initial non- drinkers and light drinkers, who moderately increased their alcohol consumption by half a glass, saw a decrease in their risk of Type II diabetes (Joosten, 2011). The study also found an increase in a hormone called adiponectin, which helps control sugar levels which in turn improves our insulin sensitivity (higher insulin sensitivity means you need less of it to lower your blood sugar levels) (Joosten, 2011).
We need to keep in mind, that Cardiovascular diseases and Type II diabetes are also related to the amount of fat one carries on their body. So if we are overweight, our diet sucks and we do not exercise regularly, drinking beer moderately isn't going to be the only solution.
Menopause is not something that can be avoided and some of the current treatments for it can increase risks of cardiovascular disease and ovarian cancer, plus have other unfavorable side effects. Main symptoms of menopause are hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, mood swings, lack of energy, breast pain, and joint soreness. Those sound fun. Said no women ever! These symptoms occur because our ovaries have closed up shop and this results in hormonal imbalances; estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are out of whack. In 2017, Sandoval-Ramirez and his colleagues conducted an experiment on some rats in hopes of finding alternatives for the treatment of menopause. They found that the hops that are used in beer have a lot of phenolic compounds and they have a positive relationship with estrogen receptors (proteins inside our cells that are activated by estrogen) (Sandoval-Ramirez, 2017). One specific phenolic compound found in hops is 8-prenylnaringenin (try saying that 3 times) and it interacts really well with estrogen receptors (Sandoval-Ramirez, 2017). Which means having more of it, would increase estrogen receptor activity, which results in an increase in estrogen-stimulated genes (Sandoval-Ramirez, 2017). All of that means, that the hormonal imbalance can be somewhat improved and thus alleviating some of the menopausal symptoms without shitty side effects.
So go ahead, enjoy 1-2 barley soups a day! But please remember that you also need to lead an active lifestyle and have a healthy diet. There is no magic food, pill, drink, or one type of exercise that is going to keep you healthy and happy.
Tapier, H., Tew, K.D., Nguyen Ba, G., Mathé, G. (2002). Polyphenols: do they play a role in the prevention of human pathologies? Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy. 56, (4), 200-207. https:??doi.org/10/1016/S0753-3322(02)00178-6
Arranz, S., Chiva-Blanch, G., Valderas-Martinez, P., Medina-Remón, A., Lamuela-Raventós, R.M., Estruch, R. (2012). Wine, Beer, Alcohol and Polyphenols on Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer. Nutrients 2012, 4, 759-781; doi:10.3390/nu4070759
Joosten, M., Chiuve, SE., Mukamal, KJ., Hu, FB., Hendriks, HF., Rimm, EB. (2011) Changes in alcohol consumption and subsequent risk of type 2 diabetes in men. Diabetes. 2011 Jan;60(1):74-9. doi: 10.2337/db10-1052.
Sandoval-Ramírez, B. A., M. Lamuela-Raventós, R., Estruch, R., Sasot, G., Doménech, M., & Tresserra-Rimbau, A. (2017). Beer Polyphenols and Menopause: Effects and Mechanisms—A Review of Current Knowledge. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, 2017, 4749131. http://doi.org/10.1155/2017/4749131