Myths to dispel: is beer bad for you?

Have you always wondered if beer is bad, makes you fat and can be drunk during pregnancy: we explain what happens to your body if you drink beer

The  beer  is a  very ancient drink, whose preparation dates back to the ancient populations of the Sumerians and Egyptians. According to reports, it was even prepared more than 4,000 years before Christ in Mesopotamia. The story goes that it all began by chance with a bowl of barley forgotten outdoors: the succession of rain and sun then made the contents of the bowl turn into a concoction that, once tasted, was not so bad. . As it seems obvious over time the brewing technique has refined, in 1516 the purity edict was promulgated in Bavaria which sanctioned a proto production disciplinary up to today, times in which beers differ in styles, production areas, diversity of ingredients. But to understand whether drinking beer is good for you or not, it is interesting to start with ingredients  that characterize it.

How is beer made?

Taking a classic lager for example, the composition is usually the following:

  • 85% water
  • 3/9% alcohol
  • 3/8% of dry extract where we find elements such as sugars, nitrogenous substances, B vitamins, salts and acids. All nutritional elements of malt and hops.

From a caloric point of view, 100 ml of beer contain, in general, an amount between  30 and 60 kcal  which does not depend only on the alcohol component, but also on the dextrins and proteins present in beer. In fact, always in 100 ml of product we find about 0.2 g of proteins whose biological value is not significant. More relevant is the amount of carbohydrates which is between 2 and 5 grams, always for the same amount of product. Drinking beer is good but you should always do it in moderationThe presence of potassium, calcium and phosphorus and of the B vitamins, in particular from B6, means that beer can help support the organism in its action of neutralizing the negative effects of homocysteine ​​and, therefore, indirectly,  prevent cardiovascular diseases. It has also been observed that, in moderate quantities, beer helps to preserve the right levels of  “good”  HDL cholesterol over time with health benefits and the possibility of preventing cardiovascular problems. In addition, beer also contains two  sleep-inducing components: these are nicotinic acid and lactoflavin, responsible for the sleepiness effect that often occurs after drinking half a pint. The presence of flavonoids, on the other hand, can stimulate an increase in calcitonin, a hormone useful for preventing bone weakening in postmenopausal women. 

How much beer can I drink?

Those who love this drink must always remember the importance of moderation. You should never drink more than 2 or 3 250ml glasses of beer a day , in order not to exceed the amount of alcohol that our body can tolerate. Those who have the opportunity to drink a good craft beer every now and then, always without exaggerating with alcoholic beverages, may still be amazed by the fact that this drink can contain health benefits, always taking into account the damage that alcohol can cause when are taken in excess. Therefore, even if the positive nutritional characteristics of beer are identified, it does not mean that consumption is to be encouraged. In fact, it contains, like all alcoholic beverages,  ethyl alcohol, substance classified by the AIRC within the first group of foods and  substances carcinogenic  for humans. Always the presence of alcohol can cause  irritation to the mucosa , which is why drinking too much beer can lead to  diarrhea  which, in turn, leads to the expulsion of precious substances such as mineral salts, in addition to water. This characteristic can be particularly harmful for  athletes and the elderly  due to the difficulties in maintaining the hydro-saline balance.

Does beer make you fat?

Another commonplace about beer is that the consumption of this drink makes you fat. This is a question with a scientific basis: in fact, although the caloric intake is not particularly high, the presence of ethyl alcohol and some semi-complex carbohydrates, maltodextrins, means that the drink can  stimulate the production of insulin . hormone that regulates stress and more. In fact, insulin excess tends in itself to make you fat and the effect is amplified by the fact that the fatty acids of ethanol are largely not transformed into energy, but directly into fat. The so-called  beer belly, which can derive from it, also represents a risk factor for the development of other pathologies linked to metabolism, such as type 2 diabetes mellitus, but also chronic hypertriglyceridemia in the most serious cases. In conclusion, it is important to underline that the considerations on the properties and contraindications of beer do not replace the opinion of a doctor nor do they constitute a promotion to drink it to benefit from what is indicated, however it is not even necessary to demonize this drink!

Can pregnant women drink beer?

It is good to remember that beer is absolutely to be avoided for pregnant women , during breastfeeding and for those suffering from ulcers or liver diseases. Finally, we also remember that traditional beer is also prohibited for celiacs.

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