Myths Debunked: Beer and Your Health

beer-healthyMy dad is an avid cyclist, and his favorite route is through Golden, Colorado where he can grab a pint after an exhausting ride. He swears the beer helps his muscles recover, but I questioned his motives. I accused him of trying to make excuses, but it turns out he was right. Beer has some surprising health benefits.

 

Whether you’re grabbing a pint with your friends at a favorite local watering hole, or at home after a long day, enjoying a good beer can make any day just a bit better. Two main issues that usually arise when talking about beer and health are underage consumption or drinking and driving, and while they are important to discuss there are additional considerations to make when it comes to drinking and your health.

Beer is…healthy?

imagesGone is the trope of the Homer Simpson-like dad with a beer belly; the beer belly is a myth. The “beer belly” has more to do with over consumption than the nutritional contents of beer. Incorporating moderate consumption of beer into a healthy diet and balanced lifestyle can promote your overall well-being. Here are some health benefits to make you feel better when enjoying your favorite brew:

✓ Beer is a significant source of: protein, fiber, B vitamins and niacin

✓ Have or are worried about osteoporosis? Beer is one of few dietary sources of silicon, and research is shown is can help inhibit the effects of osteoporosis 

✓ Both wine and beer contain important antioxidants, but those contained        in beer are more easily absorbed into the body

✓ Polyphenols in beer help muscles recover, reduce cholesterol, and ward off cancer

✓ Because beer contains both calcium and silicon it promotes healthy bone growth

✓ Beer has been demonstrated to improve cognitive function and memory disorders http://www.craftbeer.com/craft-beer-muses/after-workout-beer-phenomenon

Let’s bust another myth: There is a common misconception that a dark beer like Guinness is unhealthy, but the color of your beer does not relate to the nutritional value.

But,

An important relationship to understand is that as the alcohol content goes up, so does the caloric content. Styles like imperial stouts, barley wines, or IPAs that are eight or nine percent alcohol by volume—or more—have more calories from carbs. There is, however, a calorie trade-off. Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head Brewery, told The Salt magazine that his philosophy for drinking heavy beers is that while the higher alcohol content boosts the calorie count it also enhances the flavor, which in the end makes the extra calories worth it.

A surprising statement on moderate consumption

Famed researcher of the health effects of alcohol consumption, Arthur Klatsky https://www.dor.kaiser.org/external/Arthur_Klatsky/, says that in order to receive the heart-health benefits of drinking you must be consistent with your consumption patterns. One serving is twelve-ounces of a five percent beer; Klatsky notes that for men two or three drinks is appropriate, and one or two for women. Forget an apple a day and grab your favorite beer instead; do it for your heart.

Dangers of binge drinking (but let’s call it over-appreciation)

There is no shortage of warnings about the dangers of binge drinking. Whether it is making a stupid or embarrassing decision on a wild night, or drinking to the point of damaging your liver there are plenty of dangers to overdoing it. Here are just a few dangers of over consumption:

✗ Alcoholism (just a noun for overconsumption)

✗ Increased risk of heart failure and heart attack

✗ Psoriasis

✗ Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

✗ Cancer

✗ Pancreatitis

and last but not least…

✗ the dreaded hangover

Personally I think drinking gets an undeserved bad rep. Yes there are significant dangers, but just as with anything in life moderation is key. But it is, however, important to know all the facts so that you can make a well-informed decision about your drinking habits. There are so many varieties of beer that can be enjoyed, and a pint is the perfect compliment to a meal. Misinformation about beer and your health should not prevent you from enjoying responsibly.

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