Study Suggests Everyday Beer Drinking Could Actually Improve Your Gut Health - Men's Health Magazine Australia

Study Suggests Everyday Beer Drinking Could Actually Improve Your Gut Health

Turns out there might just be a benefit to drinking a beer every day, after all.

Few things in life are as satisfying as doing something particularly arduous, of breaking a sweat, crafting something with your bare hands or spending all day out on the field under the glare of the relentless Aussie sun, to then come indoors and lock your lips around an icy beer. When you can feel the perspiration on the bottle blend so seamlessly with that on your face, the taste can rival any delicacy in the world. Whatever your beer preferences, the truth of the matter is that in such circumstances, the beverage becomes elevated to the status of liquid nectar of the gods. 

For those who love their alcoholic beverages, beer has largely been shunned in favour of red wine. Blame the French or the gastronomic enthusiasts that walk amongst your inner circle, but red wine was thought to offer significant health benefits. It’s interesting then, that while wine was considered as something of a “healthy” choice in moderation, beer was never afforded quite the same respect. Thankfully, that might just be about to change as a new study suggests drinking low to moderate amounts of beer not only reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, but the introduction of beer polyphenols into the gut can even help regulate bacterial growth, leading to improved gut health. 

According to research conducted by the Flemish Gut Project, beer consumption significantly impacts the overall microbiota makeup. The study sought to investigate how beer – both with and without alcohol – affected gut microbiota makeup and cardio metabolic markers among healthy men. 22 healthy males were recruited to consume 330ml of nonalcoholic beer or alcoholic beer daily for a four-week period. Blood and fecal samples were procured before and post-intervention period. 

Study authors found that consuming alcoholic or nonalcoholic beer every day for four weeks didn’t elevate body fat mass or weight, nor drastically alter serum cardiometabolic indicators. Instead, these beers were found to enhance fecal alkaline phosphatase function, a measure of intestinal barrier action. As a result, beer was seen to greatly improve gut microbiome variety which is linked to beneficial health effects. 

If you’re wondering why you should care, the gut microbiome is something of a health hub, with great evidence suggesting that increased biodiversity makes for a healthy gut which then supports a healthy body and mind. Along with whole grains, fibre and vegetables as pillars of gut health, beer could now potentially join the list as another with benefits for us all. And the goods news is, non-alcoholic beer is also on the list for those who don’t drink or are living the sober lifestyle. As Ana Faria, a metabolism and food chemist at the Comprehensive Health Research Centre and study’s corresponding author, explained to Inverse, “We hope that people can see that moderate beer consumption as a part of a well-balanced diet can be used as a strategy to improve our microbiota. Particularly the responsible choice of non-alcoholic beer.” 

So, just what beers should you be reaching for if you want to improve your gut health? Researchers noted that beers with higher yeast and polyphenol content may have a more robust influence on gut flora than lager beers. Though the study was only a small sample size, its findings have set a precedent for further research in the area of alcohol and one’s health. It’s important to know that while it all certainly sounds promising for beer lovers, regular beer drinking can have an adverse reaction, irritating your digestive system as a whole. 

As Katie Boyd, MS, said in an interview with Eat This, Not That, “Drinking beer can make your stomach produce more acid than usual, which can turn into inflammation of the gut lining. This can have long-term side effects like gastritis. They don’t call it a ‘beer belly’ for nothing.”

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