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Last updated March 30, 2017 (originally published June 20,

By L. Carr, Contributing Columnist

Beer is the
most popular alcoholic beverage on the planet.
Beer has been brewed for over 12,000 years, dating back to
Neolithic times.  Almost every country on Earth has its own
version of beer.

First, for the purists among you, we have a clarification. The
health benefits of beer apply to drinks called "beer", "ale",
"lagers" and "stouts", regardless of whether they are cold -
fermented or warm-fermented.  The health benefits can be
found in beers, stouts, lagers and ales brewed with
Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast, Saccharomyces pastorianus
yeast or other microbes.

And though beer sales have fallen a bit in the U.S. --- among
18 to 29 year-olds beer drinking fell from 71 percent
between 1992-1994 to just 41 percent in 2012/13.  Still,
according to research group Mintel, beer remains the top
alcoholic beverage consumed in the U.S.
and in the U.K.

[Editor's note: The frothy stuff is popular throughout the  
world, though sales among Millennals is falling. In Canada,
the average Canadian drank 76 liters of beer a year,
according to a 2014 report from Canada's Chief Public Health
Officer. In contrast, beer consumption in Australia has fallen
from about 66% of all alcohol consumed to only 40% as of
2016, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. ]

Worldwide, the United States is still the 13th-biggest
consumer of beer in the world, with an annual consumption
of 21.6 US gallons per person, and 50 billion pints are drunk
annually --
gulp. Clearly, beer is still a popular drink.

And what’s more, beer has proven health benefits.

What is Beer?

Beer is pretty simple – an alcoholic drink made from malted
grains – namely barley – and hops, brewed using yeast in a
slow fermentation process. Sugars, fruits, vegetables, and
spices may be added to beers today. Both ales and lagers are
beers, but they differ in the type of yeast used in the brewing

Beer Drinking and Health

Americans who drink alcohol increasingly see wine as
healthier than beer, but is this actually true?  Beer drinkers
risk a beer belly while wine drinkers are seen as more
sophisticated. Beer is said to be more fattening while wine
has cardiovascular benefits. This wasn’t always the case –
beer dates back hundreds of years and in the Middle Ages in
England it was drunk by practically everyone as a safer
alternative to water, which was unregulated and never
particularly pure.

While no one would claim beer is healthier than water today,
scientists are now discovering ways in which beer can help,
not harm, your health. Perhaps news that beer offers several
distinctive health benefits will have you reaching for a cool
glass of Bud or a craft wheat beer instead of your usual
wine? We looked at the latest scientific reports to give you
seven health benefits of drinking beer (in moderation).

Beer Is Good for Your Bones

Beer is a rich source of silicon, which is the best ingredient
for boosting bone mineral density, according to a 2010 study
from the University of California.

Silicon is present in the form of orthosilicic acid (OSA), which
the National Institutes of Health says can be important for the
growth and development of bone and connective tissue.
Therefore, beer could be an important drink to help fight

Beers that have large amounts of malted barley and hops are
the best for their silicon content.

Marinade Your Meat in Beer to Cut Cancer Risk

If you regularly enjoy a backyard grill, put a little beer on
your food as well as a can in your hand and you could cut
your risk of cancer.

A 2014 study from the Universidade do Porto, Portugal
shows how a beer marinade on meat can help reduce the risk
of potentially harmful substances forming on grilled meat.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) may develop on
meat when it is cooked at a high temperature like a grill, and
there is a link between these substances and a high incidence
of colorectal cancer.

Beer, wine or tea marinades can cut the levels of these
potential carcinogens.

Black beer was the best marinade, according to researchers.

Drink Beer for Cardiovascular Health

Red wine is traditionally seen as the heart-healthy tipple but it
seems beer could also help your heart. A 2011 study from the
Research Laboratories at the Fondazione di Ricerca e Cura
"Giovanni Paolo II", in Campobasso, Italy concluded that
beer was comparable to wine in terms of cardiovascular
benefits. One pint of 5 percent beer a day was shown to
lower the risk of cardiovascular disease – the researchers
stressed the importance of drinking in moderation.

Non-Alcoholic Wheat Beer Has a Positive Effect on
Athletes’ Health

Drinking non-alcoholic wheat beer positively affects the
health of marathon runners, a 2011 study from the
Technische Universitaet Muenchen at Klinikum rechts der
Isar, Germany says.

Researchers looked at 277 runners three weeks before and
two weeks following the 2009 Munich Marathon.

The wheat beer reduced inflammation, supported the immune
system, helped prevent colds – those drinking the beer were
three times less likely to develop a cold after a major race –
and cut the intensity and duration of upper respiratory

Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Beer

Evidence for the anti-inflammatory effects of beer comes
from a 2006 study by Innsbruck Medical University, Austria.
Researchers demonstrated that extracts in beer blocked
chemical process that have an inflammatory effect on the
body. They also noted that beer normalizes the balance of
tryptophan in the body which may account for beer’s calming
effect since good tryptophan balance improves uptake of the
"happiness hormone" serotonin.

Reduce Kidney Stone Risk with Beer?

If you’ve ever suffered from kidney stones you’ll know it’s a
painful experience you don’t want to repeat. Guard against
developing kidney stones by drinking beer – low fluid intake
is a big factor that increases the likelihood of stones and
there is evidence that beer (as well as coffee, tea, and wine)
can decrease the risk of stones developing. A 1996 study by
Harvard School of Public health noted that the risk of stones
decreased by 21 percent with each 8-oz serving of beer
consumed daily.

Does Beer Help You Lose Weight?

Before you get too excited, the weight-loss potential of beer
relates more to one component in beer, rather than to beer
itself. Namely, pyruvate – a nutrient that supplies your body
with pyruvic acid, which helps the body use energy.

There are claims by scientists that pyruvate can help to
reduce body fat. For example, a small study in 1999 by Peak
Wellness, Connecticut, showed that “6g of pyruvate for six
weeks, in conjunction with mild physical activity, resulted in a
significant decrease in body weight and fat mass” .  The
nutrient is favored by body builders as it may enhance the
ability to use energy effectively.

Beer contains around 75mg of pyruvate per serving – in
order to achieve therapeutic benefits you would need to drink
too much beer to be healthy, so experts advise taking
pyruvate supplements.

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Beer has been brewed for over 12,000 years.
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