Is beer good for your health?

Bière et santé

Hoppy History features articles by beer expert Mario d’Eer. Despite the years, the hoppy freshness of the message has not faded. Far from it, Mario d’Eer takes us on a journey to the very essence of beer.

For as long as it has existed, beer has been associated with health, not least because it was first and foremost a food. Made from water and grain, it is a good source of vitamins and nutrients. Since it was first and foremost a food, a large number of ingredients were added to it, including herbs, with the aim of alleviating certain illnesses. It was therefore used to make decoctions of varying degrees of whimsicality and healing power.

The suppression of inhibitions that usually results from drunkenness may suggest that alcohol sharpens the sexual appetite.

Even if many of the virtues attributed to beer have not lived up to their promise, it remains an excellent beverage for the health, provided it is not abused. Remember that beer is made from natural ingredients: water, grain, hops and yeast. Beer nourishes. It contains minerals and vitamins. It’s also energizing. Salts and minerals play an important role in blood and endocrine balance, and in nerve cell maintenance. Beer contains calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium.

The yeast it generally contains is very rich in B-complex vitamins: B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B6 (pyroxene) and PP (nicotinic acid). Beer also contains energy principles: amino acids, alcohol, dextrins, carbohydrates and maltose; calories, if you like. Does it make you fat? Yes, in some cases, but as a general rule, no! A normal beer contains 145 to 150 calories per 341 ml bottle. The same amount of milk contains 130 calories plus fat and cholesterol. Do you prefer fat-free apple juice? The same amount gives you real value for money: 170 calories! The danger lies in the little extras: chips, French fries, etc. The three inoffensive slices of sausage that you nibble on while drinking a good beer alone count 184 calories. Because of its low calorie content and abundant water content, beer is even included in many weight-loss diets. You’re probably familiar with the famous “one meal, one chocolate bar” diet. This type of diet is based on swapping high-calorie foods for low-calorie ones. On this principle, if you replace a glass of milk with a glass of beer, you could consider this effort part of a weight-loss diet, if you know what I mean…

Hops play an important part in beer’s medicinal properties, particularly its calming qualities. We often think of alcohol as helping us to relax, but in reality it numbs us, even if it seems like a form of relaxation to some. It’s mainly the hops, specifically lupulin, that act as a soothing agent. Test this principle by trying the following experiment: compare the calming effect of a casual, higher-alcohol Brador or O’Keefe “Old Stock” style beer with that of an English Double Diamond containing half as much alcohol. I guarantee that the sedative effect of the latter is much more pronounced than that of the former two. Finally, hops are highly diuretic, stimulating kidney function. And when combined with water, it’s a great way to get plenty of exercise: walking is good for you! Drink one, pee two. You already knew that!

Because of its production process, which involves boiling water, and its alcohol content, beer is bacteria-free. This may seem obvious, but when you’re traveling in exotic countries where turista is a real concern, beer is far more beneficial than tap water or the water used to prepare cocktails or fruit juices, which are often made from concentrates. When traveling, it’s a welcome preventive drink.

For new mothers, there’s nothing like a beer to help the milk flow. Beer shampoos are by no means catch-all. Despite the dilution to which commercial beers have been subjected since the turn of the century, they remain, like all others, good for the health. Medical research has shown that people who drink an average of two beers a day are less likely to contract a disease than those who don’t drink at all. However, you can’t hoard: you really need to drink two beers a day and fourteen on Saturdays, which would give the same daily average…

Beer and sexuality

The removal of inhibitions that usually results from drunkenness may suggest that alcohol whets the sexual appetite. Of course, this is only a psychological phenomenon. However, its effect is literally increased tenfold by hops, which are a veritable aphrodisiac! In other words, alcohol frees the libido, but hops ignite it! However, this association with alcohol can prove fatal for a man! If hops enhance sexual performance, too much alcohol makes it impractical. What we have here is the opposing influence of three independent factors on human behavior. As in all things, it is abuse that threatens the effective use of this property. Just remember, dear brothers, when you drink, that the statistical curve of the relationship between these phenomena and your performance is analogous to an inverted biroute.

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