According to new research, both regular and non-alcoholic beer (NA) have natural chemicals in them called “polyphenols”: substances that help reduce inflammation and the risk for an upper respiratory tract illness (URTI).
In fact, some 2000 organic compounds have been identified in beer, including 50 polyphenolic compounds from barley and hops. A liter contains between 366 and 875 mg of polyphenols, making it a significant contributor to the average American’s phenolic intake. To top it off, polyphenols from beer are rapidly absorbed and have been shown to increase plasma antioxidant capacity in humans.
Surprisingly, NA-style is just as good for you. A recent study showed that NA beer consumed for 3 weeks prior to and 2 weeks after a marathon significantly reduced post-race inflammation and URTI incidence.
Reducing inflammation is nothing to sneeze at. Coronary artery disease, sudden cardiac death, cancer, and diabetes are all inflammation-associated diseases so anything that helps to reduce inflammation is a good thing.
Should you throw away your protein drinks and start guzzling beer after every hard workout? Of course not. Aside from the polyphenols, it has very little nutritional value and a lot of calories. You can easily gain excess body fat by over-indulging every day, not to mention the “cognitive impairment” it may cause.
There are other ways to get polyphenols in your diet. For example, fruits and vegetables are “polyphenol powerhouses” that have strong anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-pathogenic properties. You also get ample amounts of fiber, vitamins, and minerals from fruits and veggies – none of which are found in beer.
Bottom line? Eat plenty of fruits and veggies on a regular basis to keep your immune system strong and healthy. However, enjoying a brewski now and then might just keep that doctor away for even longer!
References: Nonalcoholic beer reduces inflammation and incidence of respiratory tract illness.Med Sci Sports Exerc, Vol. 44, No. 1, 2012. Beer increases plasma antioxidant capacity in humans. J Nutr Biochem, Vol 11, 2000.