Drinking beer in moderation, rather than abstaining altogether, could have a beneficial impact on health. This is the finding of a study conducted by Dalian Medical University in China, published in Frontiers in Nutrition. According to the researchers, the beverage strengthens the immune system thanks to a series of healthy bacteria that have a favorable effect on the gut. Polyphenols, fibers, and ethanol found in beer are the key ingredients for enhancing the immune system. Beer consumption was found to be more effective than probiotics. However, the experts cautioned that this is only the case when consumed in moderation, as excessive alcohol consumption can lead to cancer.
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts with presumed health benefits, found in products like kimchi and kombucha, as well as in cheese and yogurt. According to England’s National Health Service, these microorganisms help restore the natural balance of the gut when it has been disrupted by illness and combat harmful remaining bacteria. “As a long-standing fermented beverage, beer is rich in many essential amino acids, vitamins, trace elements, and bioactive substances that are involved in regulating many human physiological functions,” the authors wrote.
“The polyphenols found in malt and hops of beer are also important active compounds that interact in both directions with the intestinal microbiome,” added the scientists. “Thanks to the conversion of beer substrates, the formation of bioactive end products, and the presence of microorganisms, some of its components exert effects similar or even superior to those of probiotics,” the researchers continued. The analysis highlighted the possibility of using beer bioactives in the future to achieve health benefits.
According to the study, future products labeled as healthy beers could prevent diseases such as arteriosclerosis and heart conditions and improve blood circulation. “Combining the results of studies conducted on humans and animals, it emerges that moderate beer consumption has a beneficial effect on the immune system compared to states of alcohol abuse or abstinence,” emphasized the authors.