Drinking a lager beer a day is good for your health. According to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the habit increases the number of good bacteria in the gut, which could reduce the risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
It is not news that the composition of the gut microbiome affects our health. In the new study, researchers at Universidade NOVA de Lisboa in Portugal sought to understand whether moderate beer consumption could increase the diversity of gut bacteria. This has already been suggested, but not proven, by previous work.
To test this hypothesis, they performed a double-blind, randomized study with 19 healthy men, aged 23 to 58 years. Participants were divided into two groups that drank 330 ml of alcoholic or non-alcoholic beer with dinner every day for a month. The volunteers were instructed not to change what they ate or drank or the way they exercised. There was no control group.
The results showed that after that period, both groups had a 7% increase in the variety of bacteria in the gut and in the level of fecal alkaline phosphatase, a measure of gut health. In addition, there was no difference in the volunteers’ weight, fat mass or cholesterol levels.
According to the researchers, lower bacterial diversity in the gut has been associated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Therefore, its increase would have the opposite effect.
The beneficial effect of beer on the microbiome – the collection of bacteria and fungi that live inside us – is thought to be associated with the polyphenols and microorganisms that facilitate its fermentation. Polyphenols are highly antioxidant micronutrients found naturally in plants, including hops used in beer. Beer is the only source of hop polyphenols in the human diet. This ingredient is used by the industry to give the beverage its aroma and bitterness.