Recent research could give new meaning to the term “beer gut.”
Beer may join red wine among vices with a healthy edge, as a new study revealed that a lager a day, whether alcoholic or not, could help keep the gastroenterologist away — for men, at least.
The findings, published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, showed that men who drank one lager each day had a more diverse colony of healthy gut microbes, compared to measurements taken before their daily beer regimen.
Previous studies have shown that a more robust gut microbiome — the bacteria, viruses and fungi that live there — leads to a lowered risk of developing certain chronic issues, such as heart disease and diabetes. Humans are packed with trillions of microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract alone, which serves many biological functions, including immune defense.
“Results from this study show that drinking beer increases gut bacterial diversity without significantly changing body weight,” said lead author Ana Faria, professor at Nova University in Lisbon, Portugal, according to the Sun.
Faria’s team enlisted 19 men, ages 23 to 58, to drink a 330-milliliter bottle of 5% Super Bock — a Portuguese European-style pale lager — or a non-alcoholic swap each day. All of the participants considered themselves regular drinkers and had no serious health concerns during the trial.
They were surprised to find that even the alcoholic brew — too much of which can potentially wreak havoc on the gut — proved beneficial in moderate amounts.
The researchers suggest that the fermentation process in beer making — which produces microorganisms of its own — as well as the presence of micronutrients like polyphenols, could be the catalyst behind the male participants’ blooming gut health.
“Beer is the main and probably only source of hop polyphenols in the human diet,” said Faria. “Hops also contain xanthohumol, which studies suggest lowers the risk of chronic diseases including obesity and diabetes.”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adult men consume fewer than two alcoholic drinks per day and half as many for women.
Nevertheless, there are safer ways to build up your microbiome, such as eating foods rich in prebiotics and probiotics, including kimchi, Greek yogurt and many fruits and vegetables — as well as by avoiding sugar, artificial sweeteners and, yes, binge drinking.