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One beer a day keeps the doctor away? Increased gut bacteria diversity, study finds

Zoom in font  Zoom out font Published: 2022-06-20  Origin: nutritioninsight
Core Tip: A pilot study on men published in the ACS Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shows that beer positively affects gut microbes when consumed in moderation.
A pilot study on men published in the ACS Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shows that beer positively affects gut microbes when consumed in moderation. According to the study, drinking one beer daily, with or without alcohol, reduces the risk for several chronic diseases as it increases the variety of bacteria in the gut.

It speaks with Ana Faria, assistant professor with aggregation at NOVA Medical School of the Nova University of Lisbon and lead researcher of the study.

“Our study shows that beer is a complex product made of ingredients that can modulate our gut with a positive impact. Products with this nutritional richness and low or no alcohol are very interesting to be included as a part of a well-balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.”

Previous studies have shown that when more types of gut bacteria are present, people tend to have a lower chance of developing diabetes, heart disease and other chronic diseases. Gut health has also received much attention during the last decade. During the COVID-19 pandemic, holistic connections between the gut and overall health received increased attention.

How much is too much?

Beer contains micro-organisms from its fermentation, polyphenols and other compounds that can affect the variety of gut microbes. The micro-organisms in the human gastrointestinal tracts have a direct impact on well-being.

“We know microbiota can be modulated by food components, such as phytochemicals, post-biotics and fiber, among others. Beer is a rich source of all these components derived from cereal fermentation and hop extraction,” says Faria.

The study concludes that consuming one beer per day increases gut bacterial diversity. At the same time, body weight, body fat mass, and serum cardiometabolic markers for heart health and metabolism remained without significant change.

Even though no clear distinction could be made between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beers on gut health. However, the researchers mention that the safest amount of alcohol consumption is not to consume it.

“The key here is caution. We know that continuous excess alcohol consumption can have serious health and social effects, so if we can have the same health effect, an improvement of our gut health, with a non-alcoholic drink, better. The oversimplification of the message can lead to unhealthy behaviors,” Faria notes.

Demand for non-alcoholic alternatives
Consuming a high amount of alcohol negatively affects health, even among young adults. A previous study showed that binge drinking from a young age contributes to premature tightening of blood vessels, a precursor to cardiovascular disease.

Companies in the non-alcoholic beer industry have previously told predictions that alcohol consumption may decrease in the next two decades. Stressing the booming alcohol-free market and growing supply of substitutes, industry members have predicted that “beer with alcohol will not exist in 25 years.”

A study conducted in Denmark dove into the process of brewing non-alcoholic beer; they found that while it is possible to create the same flavor, it may also be more sustainable for the planet.  
keywords: beer
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