I've had one of those weeks where you need a couple of quiets after work each day. I don't usually go in for drinking during the week but I didn't need to go far to find some justification. Unsurprisingly we often hear all sorts of justifications for doing the stuff we like. We often hear that drinking wine is good for us, drinking coffee is good for your heart, tea has antioxidants as does chocolate which is good for blood pressure. Of course all of these come with the “in moderation” caveat.
Just about the only thing which doesn't seem easily defensible is Coca Cola. But I'm guessing this wouldn't come as a surprise to most of us.
Now we all know drinking a lot of beer isn’t good for our health. The main reason is of course that it contains carbohydrates which are naturally produced by the barley. Some of the sugar is conveniently eaten by the yeast and turned into alcohol, which is bad for us in other ways. But in terms of calories a can of beer can be compared with a can of Coke which has 139kcal per 330ml. Beer varies depending on the type, from Bud light at 110kcal to heavier darker beers with 200kcal. Of course if you drink Bud light your health may not be your only worry.
Aside from the carbs, alcohol is bad for your liver, your driving and sometimes your reputation. However many people who drink craft beer which runs up to $11 per bottle, are going for quality rather than quantity. I doubt many people sit down with a block of barrel aged Epic for a big night, so I'm choosing to write the alcohol argument off in this case.
Aside from these drawbacks there is plenty of healthy up-side to moderate beer consumption.
Most beer is made using malted barley as the provider of sugars. The barley husks contain silicon which is carried through into the beer. Dietary silicon is necessary for maintaining bone density, which helps to counter osteoporosis. According to research, paler beers have more silicon, so make sure you drink plenty of pilsner.
Antioxidants work within your blood to help prevent damage to your cells. Luckily your favourite drop contains as many antioxidants as red wine and 4-5 times as much as white wine, which we all know is salad dressing anyway.
The New England Journal of Medicine reports that moderate beer drinkers decrease their chances of having a stroke by 20%. Apparently the blood pressure of non-drinkers is higher than those who enjoy the effects of 10-20g of alcohol per day.
There is a fair amount of research confirming that moderate amounts of beer is good for your heart. The institute of Epidemiology at the University of Muenster found alcohol can increase good cholesterol levels and reduces the chance of your arteries hardening. It also thins the blood like aspirin. All these factors reduce the chance of you going down clutching your chest, wishing you had experienced craft beer more often.
Stout has a good helping of iron which can be useful for people with low iron. Since low iron often effects women it’s unfortunate that many of them also dislike stout.
Beer is also useful for preventing kidney stones because it helps flush through and dissolve calcium deposits being formed in your kidneys.
There is nothing like a cold beer at the end of a stressful day. A small beer buzz can take your mind off a crap day at work and help you relax. This can’t be overstated - stress can kill you! It creates high blood pressure, along with the risk of heart attack or at the very least stomach ulcers.
A well timed beer in the evening can save you from an untimely demise. A perfectly timed beer not only kills stress, but also gives you a good nights sleep and there is no argument that sleep is important for your health.
So to summarise, drinking too much beer is bad in almost every way. Too much alcohol will wreck your liver, your car and your marriage. Because of the carbs too much beer will wreck your waistline, give you heart disease, cholesterol and ten other horrible things.
Yet a beer or two a day will do almost the opposite, thinning your blood, protecting you from strokes, heat disease, kidney stones and stress. So the key is moderation, which means finding the sort of beer you only need a couple of. Dr Brew recommends high quality craft beer administered in limited quantities. There is after all only a limited number of beers you can drink in a lifetime so we may as well make them good ones, and at the right moderation we can extend that lifetime so we can get a few more in.
Warning : Ignore everything on this page and consult your doctor before taking my advice :P