Is drinking a beer daily a legitimate gut health hack? Yes and no. A pilot study from the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry suggests that beer might be our gut health superfood. But we also know how detrimental alcohol is on the body. So what’s a beer drinker to think?
Let’s look at the study
In this study out of Portugal, men drank either an alcoholic or non-alcoholic lager daily for four weeks. At the end of the study, the men who drank the lager improved the diversity of their gut microbiome.
But was this because of the beer or something else? Beer is high in polyphenols, and it is also fermented, increasing the number of probiotic bacteria. It is very likely that the probiotic bacteria and polyphenols helped to improve the diversity of gut microbes, not the beer itself.
Alcohol and our health
Increasing evidence shows that alcohol is detrimental to our overall health and longevity. There is so much evidence against alcohol that I was concerned about sharing this study! Alcohol is considered toxic to the body. The more you drink, the more of a breakdown can incur in the body. Increased alcohol consumption leads to impaired sleep, weight gain, increased blood pressure, and more. So why is this study so contradicting?
Stress and lack of sleep play major roles in supporting our overall health. If our bodies are already chronically stressed or we aren’t sleeping well, alcohol will make matters worse.
What causes a healthy gut?
A healthy gut microbiome is full of a diverse array of bacteria that help to break down the foods we eat and fight off infections. A diverse microbiome can help stave off chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. It can also help reduce your body’s immune response to viruses like COVID-19.
Eating a variety of foods that are nutrient-dense and can feed the good bacteria in our gut can also help support a healthy microbiome. This variety can likely do a better job than just drinking a beer per day can do.
Here are some legitimate ‘hacks’ to support gut health
Prebiotic fibers like apples, bananas, berries, broccoli, cabbage, garlic, and Jerusalem Artichoke can help feed the bacteria in our gut. Probiotic foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha (no-sugar-added), and other cultured veggies help add to the diversity of the bacteria in our gut. Incorporating a mix of prebiotic and probiotic foods can help support a healthy gut.
Studies like the “Beer A Day” are exciting because they take something we traditionally think as “unhealthy” like beer and turn it into a health food. But it’s important to look at the bigger picture, and understand that sometimes it is too good to be true. A beer once in a while can be part of a healthy diet if you’d like; however, I’d still recommend refraining as often as possible. But if you can’t resist, opt for a non-alcoholic beer when you’re in the mood since both versions scored similarly in the study.