"A Strong Beer a Day Keeps the Doctor Away" May Be the New Health Kick
It has been estimated that approximately 2 billion people worldwide drink alcohol on a daily basis. And if you're one of them, we have good news.
A study has shown that drinking certain strong beers in moderation may actually help maintain a healthy community of gut microbes. At least, that's according to Eric Claassen from the University of Amsterdam, who shared his research on beer at a 2019 event organized by probiotic drink manufacturer, Yakult.
But hey, we're not going to argue.
Twice as nice
Probiotics are believed to restore the natural balance of bacteria in the gut, especially after taking a course of antibiotics, which typically irritate the stomach and intestines.
But you can't just drink any beer in order to reap the benefits of probiotics, according to Claassen.
Belgian beers, such as Hoegaarden and Westmalle Tripel, are rich in probiotic microbes and could offer a range of health benefits. This is because they are fermented twice in order to break down more sugars. A specific yeast is used in the second batch of fermentation that produces acids. These acids are poisonous to many of the bacteria that make us fall ill.
"You are getting a stronger beer that is very, very healthy," said Claassen.
However, this research doesn't give a free pass to start guzzling strong beers. Claassen stressed the importance of drinking in moderation and limiting consumption to just one a day.
Probiotics are well known for being healthy for our gut. And this isn't the first time they've been celebrated for their presence in beer.
In a previous study, National University of Singapore researchers created a specialty beer using a probiotic that can neutralize viruses and toxins, and help boost immune response. Of course, beyond beer, there already exist foods and drinks such as kimchi, yogurt, and kefir that are extremely healthy for our guts. However, for lactose-intolerant people, or those who simply don't enjoy fermented foods or drinks, this beer option could be a welcome addition to the healthy-gut drinks list.
It is worth noting that other fermented beverages like wine and cider also contain significant amounts of healthy nutrients such as vitamins, polyphenols, or fiber. Moderate wine consumption has been related to a decrease in the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Exact evidence of the benefits of probiotics is still limited, but until we learn more, we'll raise a toast to this news.