There are very few things in life that can actually help you live longer. Sure, vitamins, a healthy diet and exercise are all great starts, but there may be one other surprising component to consider adding to your diet and regime.
What if I told you that drinking alcohol may help us live longer, healthier lives?
Bet you probably think that I’m talking about red wine.
Guess again. I’m actually referring to beer.
Science, yes science, has shown us on multiple occasions that beer has just as many, if not more, healthy benefits for our bodies than wine.
First and foremost, did you know that there are a ton of heart-healthy benefits found in beer?
Check out the list of Amazing health benefits of Beer
1. The effects of beer on cholesterol, heart health, & circulation
We talked about how eggs can actually lower your cholesterol in this article, but it turns out, alcohol has the same effect on our bodies.
According to a report I found in the Harvard School of Public Health, alcohol can:
- Raise our levels of HDL, or “good” cholesterol
- Improve sensitivity to insulin
- Prevent the formation of small blood clots
A combination of 100 studies (1) has given us even more proof that drinking alcohol in moderation is beneficial to your heart and cardiovascular system.
Yep, you heard right.
These studies from the Harvard School of Public Health showed a 25-40% reduction in risks (2) associated with heart attacks and strokes in both men and women.
The kicker: these results only applied to those participants who did not already have heart disease, nor did they apply to anyone at high risk for stroke, heart attack, or type 2 diabetes.
However, a different study (3) conducted by Israeli researchers showed that it was possible to reduce cholesterol levels, increase antioxidants, and reduce levels of fibrinogen, a clot producing agent, in men who already had coronary artery disease.
The researchers gathered a pool of 48 male participants between the ages of 46-72 and separated them into two groups: the first group consumed a 12oz beer each day for one month, while group number two swapped that beer for mineral water instead.
I feel bad for those guys in the mineral water group – they definitely got the short end of the stick on that one.
As for their diets, both groups consumed a similar, healthy diet that included plenty of fruits and vegetables.
According to Science Daily (4), “In 21 of the 24 patients in the beer-drinking group, the researchers found positive changes in blood chemicals that are associated, on the basis of previous studies by Gorinstein and others, with a decreased heart attack risk.”
This study (5) used a pale lager, which was 5% alcohol by volume, and noted that, “other beers are likely to have a similar effect.”
I was just as excited to hear these results as you probably are.
I can hear the sweet sound of a cold beer cracking open now.
But it doesn’t stop there.
2. Protection against type 2 diabetes & gallstones
The American Diabetes Association confirmed (6) that moderate drinking can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.
According to a combination of 15 studies (7) based on the drinking of moderate alcohol consumers, researchers found a 30% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. However, there was no reduction in T2D risks (8) for those who consumed alcohol heavily.
And the benefits keep on going.
An older study released in the US National Library of Medicine (9) confirmed that alcohol can also be helpful for decreasing risks of gallstones.
This study (10) showed that, “An increase in the amount of alcohol consumed was associated with a decreased risk of symptomatic gallstone disease. An increase in frequency of alcohol consumption also was related to decreased risk.”
The key here is frequent, but moderate consumption, which I’m all for.
3. Who needs vitamins when you can have beer?
Okay, so I tricked you a little with that question, but science has shown that beer also contains a handful of vitamins and happens to be a pretty good immunity booster, too.
I’m not saying you should skip your daily multivitamin, but you will also find the following vitamins in beer, according to Medical Daily (11):
- Pantothenic acid
- Vitamins B6 and B12
Medical Daily continues to say that, “A single bottle of beer (12oz.) provides up to 12.5% of the recommended requirement of vitamin B6, which is known to be generally helpful on a cellular level and also heart-healthy.”
Beer has so much more to offer our bodies than sneaking in some vitamins. In fact, your immune system will start thanking you if you start drinking a beer a day.
I know, I didn’t believe it at first either, but check out this study (12) done on rhesus macaques, which are monkeys that share several physiological similarities to us.
First, 12 monkeys were vaccinated against small pox. They were also vaccinated again seven months into the 14 month trial, or halfway through the study.
The monkeys were split up into two groups: one group had access to 4% ethanol while the other group only had access to sugar water. Both groups of monkeys had access to regular food and water that was provided.
The monkeys were allowed to consume the ethanol at their leisure; they could drink as much or as little as they pleased, however often they liked. I bet this was probably really interesting to watch.
Some monkeys in the ethanol group drank more alcohol than others.
This allowed the researchers to separate the monkeys into sub-groups of heavy or moderate drinkers.
According to what they found (13), “The heavy drinkers showed greatly diminished vaccine responses compared with the control group of monkeys who drank the sugar water. But the more surprising finding: the moderate-drinking monkeys displayed enhanced responses to the vaccine compared to the control group.”
And my favorite conclusion, “Moderate drinking bolstered their bodies’ immune systems.”
Cheers to that one!
Of course, this study was only done on monkeys, but I tend to think that the science behind these findings may hold true for us humans, too, since we have very similar systems.
Which reminds me, back in September 2014, CNN published an article (14) that explored five studies in search of the benefits of beer on brain health.
4. Beer for brain health
Again, these studies were only conducted on animals, mice to be exact, but the results are still worth a mention.
Scientists decided to test how xanthohumol, a type of flavonoid found in beer, was connected to cognitive function in both young and old mice.
The researchers gave the mice an amount of beer that is equivalent to 2,000 liters a day, according to CNN (15).
The results (16) were pretty thought-provoking.
When studying the effects of xanthohumol on young mice, the researchers discovered that it actually improved their cognitive flexibility (17).
However, the older mice didn’t fair as well. In fact, the older mice did not show any significant improvements at all (18).
I feel bad for those mice. I can’t imagine that hangover.
Now, no one would ever consume such a ridiculous amount of alcohol every day, but this volume helped scientists amplify their results and maximize the time it took to study their theories.
So if beer is good for our heart and brain health, why is wine always promoted as the healthy alcohol of choice?
5. Is beer as good for you as wine?
Another study presented in the US National Library of Medicine (19) investigated whether beer or red wine made a difference in health benefits.
It turns out, beer is giving wine a run for its money.
The study found that “beer may prevent carcinogenesis and osteoporosis; beer provides plasma with significant protection from oxidative stress; and isohumulones, the bitter substances derived from hops, may prevent and improve obesity and type-2 diabetes, improve lipid metabolism, and suppress atherosclerosis.”
Wow, that was a mouthful.
I have to forewarn you though, this study was also conducted solely on animals. While more research on humans is needed, I had to share this slice of science with you since I was too surprised by those impressive results to keep them to myself.
A follow up study (20) examining 38,000 men over the course of 12 years showed a 30-35% reduced chance of alcoholic drinkers having a heart attack as compared to non-drinkers. According to the study, the drink of choice did not make a difference in these statistics.
The determining factor was not the type of alcohol, but was once again the moderation factor.
Which means men can choose between wine, beer, or spirits to reap the same benefits. “Men who drank every day had a lower risk of heart attack than those who drank once or twice a week,” a report from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study informs.
But that brings up another question.
6. Are all beers created equal?
Unfortunately, the answer to this one is no. For the most part, you should avoid beers that are mass produced.
Vani Hari, founder of the successful Food Babe, had an interesting article titled “The Shocking Ingredients in Beer (21),” and what she uncovered truly surprised me.
I had no idea that some beer contains genetically modified ingredients (GMO) and unnecessary preservatives such as MSG, corn syrup, and other sweeteners, so I was certainly glad I came across that post.
Now I stick to craft beers whenever possible.
Natural Health Advisory (22) confirms the theory that craft beers are better for you.
According to (Jeff Riddle), the following health benefits of beer come from drinking craft beer:
- The complex carbohydrates deliver stable supplies of energy for long periods of time
- The good probiotics provide immune boosting, intestine building, and anti-inflammatory effects
Riddle reminds (23) us to look for the following key phrases on our craft beer labels: “unfiltered, unpasteurized, made with barley, wheat, rye or other whole grains, and no preservatives, corn syrup or sweeteners.”
So before you go running off to guzzle buckets of beer with your friends, there are still a few things to keep in mind.
If you or someone you know has a history of alcohol disease, these health benefits won’t help you or them and will do more harm than good.
I cannot stress this enough: moderation is absolutely key to the success of your good health. That means having no more than one beer a day. Drinking any more than that can have the opposite effect on your health and will definitely derail your weight loss and healthy living plans.
My favorite craft beers include: Boulevard Pop-Up IPA and Founders All Day IPA.
What’s your favorite beer to drink on a hot, sunny day? Share with us in comment section below.>