The health benefits of good old beer...
No, the title isn't a mistake. As much as an over-indulgence can have negative side effects, beer drunk in moderation can have significant benefits for your overall health.
Sadly, it doesn't mean smashing ten beers on a Friday night will provide the perfect foil to a week of skiving from the gym, but it does mean a quick beer in the evening can potentially do you and your body a world of good.
Excessive alcohol can lower your mental acuity immediately after consumption and make a mess of your sleep patterns which will result in a more stressed you. However, a couple of drinks have been proven to be a relaxant, to help you wind down and to induce a state of euphoria.
Beer, particularly the darker varieties found more widely in Europe, contain antioxidants called flavonoids. As you're probably aware — the darker colour often serves as a good indicator of how potent an antioxidant it is. Antioxidants fight cancer-causing free radicals in the body.
The body requires very low amounts of selenium which is found in beer (too much can have detrimental side effects) to aid the immune system, thyroid hormone metabolism and in reproduction. You should, in theory, be able to get as much selenium as you need through your diet. However, a couple of extra bottles of beer won't hurt...
Studies conducted in the Netherlands have shown that the level of B6 found in beer drinkers increased by up to 30%. The vitamin is essential for the metabolism of protein by the body along with the function of the nervous system and immune system. On top of this, it helps fight stress — a vast number of people take B6 supplements for just this reason.
Good cholesterol, bad cholesterol
Not all cholesterol is bad as we're often led to believe. The good stuff, known as HDL or high-density lipoprotein, can protect against heart disease and prevent heart attacks. Medical opinion suggests that the HDL carries bad cholesterol to the liver where it is passed from the body. And you guessed it, beer contains the good stuff. Happy days.
Not something that most of us think about now, but as we get older our bones become thinner and more brittle. Beer made from barley and hops is a good source of silicon which helps to increase mineral density in the bones.
Alongside selenium, beer also contains trace amounts of magnesium. This element is needed within every cell in the body and in over 300 biochemical reactions. It also plays a very important role in the formation of bones and teeth as well as with contracting muscles and the immune system. Research has suggested that more often than not people are deficient in magnesium, so crack yourself a brew and get drinking!
It may seem a contradiction in terms that beer can help your kidneys; in fact, it prevents calcium deposits building up in them, which mix with salts and other minerals and eventually form kidney stones. Porters and stouts, which are higher in hops, are more beneficial.
Strokes are one of the leading causes of death and long-term disabilities. One to two beers a day have been shown in scientific studies to reduce the risk of stroke by up to a significant 20% which puts it in the same category as wine.
All this being said, excess alcohol consumption in any form can lead to long term damage of your organs amongst other things. What it does mean, however, is that the couple of beers you enjoy on your way home from work do have a significant impact in a positive way on your health — but just don't go overboard.
MSN -NZ Mens Lifestyle
Acknowledgements: William Leigh