Beer has been one of the most popular drinks since ancient times, so much that archaeologists have found in Abydos, a city of ancient Egypt, among buildings and tombs, the remains of a brewery dating back to around 3000 BC. But beer is not just a voluptuous drink. In fact, we can add a part to the maxim that is attributed to the Egyptians, namely a happy, and healthy, man has a mouth full of beer. Indeed, as long as it is taken with moderation, beer can be also a drink with an immunomodulating, antioxidant and even neuroprotective action, as emerges from a recent review published in the journal Nutrients by a Mexican team (Vazquez Cervantes et al, Nutrients, 2021).
Beer, risks and benefits
Beer is the product of the processing of malt, hops, yeast and water. From here, following a precise procedure, one of the most appreciated and studied drinks by science is obtained. In fact, as we will see, thanks to malt and hops, beer contains important antioxidants that give it properties useful for health. In any case, you should never overdo this drink, because it contains alcohol, which in large quantities and in the long run can be harmful, and carbohydrates that increase the risk of overweight and obesity. It is estimated that a low consumption of beer, capable of bringing benefits but at the same time reducing the risks, is given by a glass of beer for women and up to two glasses for men.
Beer and antioxidant action
Hops release precious antioxidant substances into beer, such as proanthocyanidins, catechins and flavonoids, which, as shown by scientific studies, are able to counteract free radicals. The more antioxidants a beer contains, the greater its ability to fight free radicals. For example, the beers with the least antioxidants are the non-alcoholic ones while those with the most antioxidants are the bock beers, a type of dark German beer. The antioxidant action of beer also helps to avoid lipid oxidation with a cardioprotective action.
Beer against inflammation and for the health of the immune system
But the properties of beer do not end there. In fact, it has been observed that beer is able to reduce inflammation, since it inhibits the activation of pro-inflammatory substances such as tumor necrosis factor alpha and transcription factor NF-κB. Chronic inflammation can, in the long run, weaken the immune system. Hence the immunomodulating action of beer, which helps reduce excessive defense responses. For example, beer has also been shown to inhibit the production of cytokines involved in allergic reactions and thus modulate the body's allergic response.
Beer and its neuroprotective action
Not only that, beer also shows a neuroprotective action, it is believed for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action. In fact, the alpha acids of hops were found to be able to counteract neuroinflammation. And the brain benefits of moderate beer consumption don't end there. In fact, the alpha acids in hops improve mental fatigue, mood, memory and anxiety in people of all ages and these same substances improve memory, attention and mood even in elderly people with cognitive decline.
Therefore, the review shows that a healthy and balanced diet can also include beer. However, never overdo the doses due to the risk of addiction and the effects that alcohol and carbohydrates in beer could have on health and weight.