Apr 17, 2014

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Beer – The Bitter-Better Drink

The days are gone when beer was associated with sagging bellies; your favourite pint is now gaining a status of a drink with health benefits – of course when consumed in moderation! This means, while men can consume about 710 ml of beer per day, women should limit it to 355 ml, to reap the health benefits. If you overdo it, just like any alcohol, beer too can take its toll on your health. So let’s look at the benefits and risks of drinking beer.

Benefits of drinking beer

Helps protect bones: Beer, when consumed in moderation, is said to protect your bone health as it is high in silicon content. Several studies have shown that beer may help in preventing bone loss and also rebuild bone mass in men and young women. However, no benefits have been seen in women in the post-menopausal stage.

Healthy heart: Just like an apple a day keeps the doctor away, a beer a day may help you keep heart diseases away. Moderate consumption of beer has many benefits and one of them is the significant increase in HDL (good) cholesterol. The good cholesterol has anti-clotting effects which keeps the blood vessels clear and healthy.

Healthy kidneys: A study conducted by Finnish researchers found that people who consumed beer were at a lower risk of developing kidney stones when compared to those who drank other types of alcohol. And this benefit could be due to the high water content in beer. In addition, the beer’s hops – a flower which gives beer its bitterness and also acts as a preservative —  is said to prevent kidney stones as it slows down the release of calcium from bones.

Apart from this, beer is also a rich source of vitamins, minerals such as magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and plenty of B vitamins.

Risks of drinking beer

Beer belly: Everyone says that drinking beer makes you fat or at least develop ‘beer belly’. The fact is that beer contains almost no fat or nutrition. However, it does contain a lot of calories. And if you are trying to lose weight, you must know that alcohol does not let your body burn a lot of stored fat for energy. Actually, when you drink beer, your liver produces a substance called acetate with the help of the alcohol in the beer and your body, instead of using the fat stored on your hips and belly, burns this acetate for energy.

Heartburns: Drinking too much beer can cause heart burn as it contains powerful stimulants of gastric acid secretion leading to gastro-esophageal reflux.

Dehydration: You would do anything for a mug of beer after a long day outside in hot weather. Though beer is 95 per cent water, it is a diuretic. And since the alcohol in the beer interferes with the release of an antidiuretic hormone in your body, it makes you rush to the bathroom more often than you like. So if you drink beer, you will lose fluid through sweating as well as urine, dehydrating you completely. Also, make sure never to drink beer instead of water.

In addition, beer can affect your blood sugar levels despite being low in sugar. As beer contains alcohol, it has the ability to drop the level of sugar in your blood. This will lead to low energy levels and if you end up drinking too much beer, you will surely hit the sack in minutes!

Well, we conclude that drinking beer might be good for you if it’s done in moderation. In fact most of the negative effects of drinking beer are due to excessive drinking. So if you actually want to gulp down a crate of beer at one go, do so, but at your own risk. However, make sure you drink a gallon of water to keep yourself hydrated!

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