Seven good reasons to drink beer

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IO_beer life0 REUTERS Singer Rihanna drinks beer as she watches the Memphis Grizzlies play the Los Angeles Clippers during their NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, California on January 26, 2012.

London - We have long been told that a glass of red wine is good for our health, but now an increasing number of clinical studies show that beer can have even greater benefits.

“Beer has a bad image - it is more often associated with drunken football crowds than health-conscious, discerning drinkers,” says Dr George Philliskirk of The Institute of Brewing and Distillery, who specialises in yeast research. “But when drunk in moderation, beer provides a wider range of health benefits than wine.”

And it doesn’t matter whether you prefer ale or lager, as they are both produced from water, barley, hops and yeast. The only difference lies in the way they are fermented - ale is brewed for a week in a warm environment, while lager is produced over the course of a month at a much colder temperature.

“It needn’t be an expensive beer - just don’t drink so much you cancel out any of the benefits,” adds Dr Philliskirk. “This means no more than a pint a day for a woman and between one and two pints, depending on the beer’s strength, for a man.”

THE BEER-BELLY MYTH

Worries about ending up with the dreaded barrel-shaped beer belly put many people off enjoying a pint. But according to Dr Philliskirk, blaming a rotund figure on beer is misguided.

“Glass for glass, beer is less calorific than wine,” he says. “It is the lifestyle that gives a beer-drinker a belly, not the drinking itself. Although the volume of beer consumed is generally more than wine, if you limit yourself to a pint a day you are consuming only a few more calories than if you drank a large glass of wine.”

On average, beer contains about 180 calories per pint, while a large glass (250ml) of red wine contains 160 calories and there are 150 calories in a glass of white.

THE ATHLETE’S CHOICE

Although too much alcohol is dehydrating, a single pint of beer is more effective at rehydrating the body than the equivalent amount of water, according to a study at the University of Granada in Spain.

The scientists monitored 40 students - with half drinking beer and half drinking water after exercising in a 40C environment. They found that the carbon-dioxide bubbles in beer not only made the drink feel more thirst-quenching but increased water absorption, while the carbohydrates in beer replaced lost calories .

“It could be that the better hydration levels are also down to the sugars and salts found in beer,” says Dr Philliskirk. “It is a good source of potassium - which is needed after exercise to help rehydrate.”

Beer is also rich in B vitamins - particularly riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pyroxidine (B6), folate (B9) and cobalamin (B12) - necessary for maintaining energy levels and building new muscle tissue. Although amounts vary, Dr Philliskirk says a pint could provide about ten percent of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of some B vitamins.

“Beer is in no way empty calories,” says Charles Bamforth, Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences at the University of California, Davis. “It contains far more nutrients than any other alcoholic beverage.”

KEEP YOUR BONES STRONG

Barley husks make beer rich in silica, a mineral vital for producing strong connective tissues - such as skin, hair and nails - as well as maintaining bone density. Low bone density increases the risk of developing the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis.

Professor Jonathan Powell, the head of MRC Human Nutrition Research at Cambridge University, says: “Beer could be considered as doubly good for bones - small amounts of ethanol [alcohol] inhibit bone loss, while the silica enhances the speed and quality of bone formation.”

There is no RDI of silica, but according to the latest research, those who have more than 30mg a day have the highest bone density. The amount of silica in beer varies greatly, from between 6.4 to 56.5mg per litre.

“Whatever beer you drink, you are likely to get a significant amount of silica,” says Prof Powell.

A GREAT FIBRE PROVIDER

Beer is also rich in fibre - just one pint contains about ten percent of your RDI of soluble fibre, while some varieties contain up to 30 percent.

“This fibre is broken down to form prebiotics which help promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut,” says Prof Bamforth. “Research has shown that low doses of alcohol, including beer, stimulate appetite and promote bowel function in the elderly.”

The alcohol and hop content also make beer mildly antibacterial. Studies have found that regular beer drinking helps prevent the growth of helicobacter pylori bacteria which leads to stomach ulcers. The hop content also promotes the secretion of gastric juices needed for effective digestion.

NO-ALCOHOL BEERS GOOD FOR MOMS

Although zero percent beer contains no alcohol, all the vitamins and minerals remain. The Spanish Paediatric Association studied how the nutritional value of a mother’s milk varied according to her diet. Two groups of 20 mothers were monitored for 30 days, with one set drinking non-alcoholic beer each day while the other women did not.

Levels of antioxidants in the mothers’ milk were found to be significantly higher in those drinking beer.

STAVING OFF ALZHEIMER’S

Studies have shown that a small intake of alcohol can slow and even prevent age-related brain disease such as Alzheimer’s.

But beer has the added benefit of being a more mentally stimulating drink, according to Dr Philliskirk.

He says: “People are more likely to drink wine alone than beer. Drinking beer has been a social occasion for centuries.”

In addition, many people do not wish to, or cannot, drink strong alcoholic drinks for health reasons. “Beer is more inclusive because of the low alcohol content yet there is enough in it to have a relaxing effect,” adds Dr Philliskirk.

The average beer is between three and 5.5 percent alcohol and wine between 11 and 14 percent.

“People feel more convivial after a small amount. Indeed, beer ‘happy hours’ have been trialled at nursing homes in Germany and the United States. Elderly residents not only made an occasion of having a drink but engaged in good conversation.”

AS GOOD FOR YOUR HEART AS RED WINE

Much has been written about a daily glass of red wine contributing to protection against heart disease. However, studies have shown that beer works just as well.

This is because both drinks contain ethanol, which has been shown to prevent blood clots, lower the levels of “bad” cholesterol and reduce the number of stress-related heart spasms.

“Scientists also think the levels of folate in beer may help reduce homocysteine levels in the blood,” says Prof Bamforth. “Lower levels mean a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.”

Beer is rich in polyphenols, an antioxidant thought to prevent coronary heart disease and cancer. On average, beer contains 150mg of antioxidants per litre - double that of white wine, but half that of red. However, there is evidence that they come in a more absorbable form in beer.

Silica could have a protective effect on the circulatory system, too. “One study found that a silica deficiency led to reduction in the circumference of the aorta [the major artery carrying blood to the heart],” says Prof Powell. “Silica is essential for maintaining veins.” - Daily Mail


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jj, wrote

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03:35pm on 10 February 2012
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I guess never argue with an alcoholic!next they can research the beneits of smoking, hey, even cocaine has positive effects,lets publish that!you can bash and insult me, and if you can handle moderation, great for you. Majority of peolpe cant. Even moderation, what ever you call binge drinking, has terrible effects. I wonder why the emotional responses for bashing alcohol?cant wait o the insults on his one... Anycase, hope you never expeience alcohols marvellous backlash. Road deaths are one thing, but dont insult our precious alcohol.

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bean, wrote

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04:06pm on 9 February 2012
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Castle.. GET IN MY BELLY!

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BeerRules, wrote

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02:02pm on 9 February 2012
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The taste of a cold and sweaty Windhoek Lager after work on a Friday...PRICELESS!! Can't wait for Friday...Awe ma!!

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Plonk, wrote

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02:02pm on 9 February 2012
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JJ wrote: "You know that doctors dont tell patients that wine is good for you." Oh really? My GP recommended I drink a glass of red wine every evening to bring down my cholesterol. He said it has fewer negative side effects than the regular cholesterol medication. Put that in your glass and drink it! Just because you are unable to exercise moderation in your habits does not give you the right to force your fascist views on everyone else.

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Anonymous, wrote

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12:17pm on 9 February 2012
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8 Reasons Dr, cause its lekker!!!!!!!

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The M, wrote

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09:54am on 9 February 2012
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@JJ, @JFT,@Asanda @wildDog: Let's hook up for a drink and end this bickkering shall we?

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SimpleOke, wrote

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08:56am on 9 February 2012
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Ja...its a free country and I'll drink what i want, when i want, how i want. Some commentators here, the 'haters', clearly were abused by an alcoholic relative. I am sorry for your hang ups, however they are YOUR hang ups not mine.

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Joy Skene, wrote

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08:00am on 9 February 2012
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Vindication at last!!!

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baboona, wrote

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04:58am on 8 February 2012
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give Dr Syphiliskirk a Bells!

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Lionel, wrote

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12:03pm on 7 February 2012
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Strange how this article and so many other articles of a similar nature not all related to alcohol, turns out to be an exchange of war of words in terms of the many comments on this forum. This is a typical example what an aggressive nation we are both mentally and physically. If we are alcohol drinkers, then only our view counts, and visa versa if we against alcohol. I am sure if it were possible, some on this forum would try and get their point across by beating the crap out of the other person. Dare I say that nine times out of ten this will be the person who partakes in alcohol and thinks he can conquer all when he has one to many and then gets behind the wheel of a car in his drunken state or partakes in domestic violence when he gets home. Alcohol is to be enjoyed in moderation, like everything else in life and not to be abused. Morales, values, self discipline, consideration and respect for others all play a huge part. Having little to none of these attributes, leads to one been a drunken thug, in adding my piece of aggressiveness.

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Anonymous, wrote

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05:37pm on 6 February 2012
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@jj : I see you don't let facts get in the way of a ridiculous, generalised and emotive argument!

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Anonymous, wrote

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03:35pm on 6 February 2012
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tyytrytuy

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anotherGuy, wrote

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03:17pm on 6 February 2012
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A lot of people who don't drink alcohol are just unhappy people who are quick to see wrongs in everything. JJ is a classic example of such people.

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Black Wolf, wrote

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03:15pm on 6 February 2012
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@JFT well said mate.@JJ you should do more research..

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jj, wrote

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02:55pm on 6 February 2012
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@JFT thruth hurts doesnt it.on your whiskey subject, do you know that if your whiskey (so called "harde hout"), was medicine, it would have been preion medicine.O, this is not nonsense, actually i feel silly telling you this, after all you knew about russia, so i figured you would know this already.anycase, when last did you, and wild dog, and asanda and all your alchol loving"healthy" peolpe had a check up.bet you are not that healthy!!Alcohol is an addictive drug. Hope you teach your child to use it moderation, and drive home safly. you call reality rubbish, no wonder you like the drink.hope you must never deal with the harsh reality of alcohol.

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Galen, wrote

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02:48pm on 6 February 2012
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I would argue that the majority of these points are valid and sound. Moderation is surely the biggest factor, but the point is that a little bit of alcohol in your blood on a semi-regular basis is good for you, whether it's wine, beer or whiskey...

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JFT, wrote

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02:35pm on 6 February 2012
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@jj, Dr Philliskirk clearly states, one beer for women and between one and two for men. Non-alcoholic for pregnant women. Moderation does exhist, stop making up stories. FYI, Russia consumes the most alcohol per capita, not South Africa. Whatever bad dreams you have because of what some drunk did to you is unfortunate but, please, don't talk rubbish to the rest of us. Lastly, I don't drink brandy, I drink beer and whiskey, but thanks for noticing ;-)

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Wild Dog, wrote

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02:36pm on 6 February 2012
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@jj, get yourself a life!

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Asanda sandza, wrote

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02:28pm on 6 February 2012
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@JJ, get a castle and shut the hell up boet church was yesterday so ur a day behind.

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gift, wrote

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02:25pm on 6 February 2012
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eish this is hurting rena masione

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