Great news for beer drinkers: Researchers have discovered that the hops in beer lessen the harmful effects of alcohol on the liver.1
Consuming too much alcohol can lead to liver damage, fatty liver disease, and cirrhosis. Most doctors recommend no more than one drink a day for women and two for men.2
But researchers from Friedrich Schiller University Jena in Germany found that all alcoholic beverages are not created equal when it comes to liver health.
They divided mice into three groups. One got regular beer. A second group drank a beer specially brewed with no hops. The third got plain alcohol.
All the mice ingested what researchers called a “binge drinking model.” This is the equivalent of downing four drinks in rapid succession.
Twelve hours later scientists tested the animals’ livers. The livers of the mice who drank regular beer had significantly less buildup of damaging fat than the mice given beer without hops or plain alcohol. Both of the latter two groups had about the same unhealthy level of fat accumulation.3
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The researchers recently published their findings in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism. They concluded that hops in beer are responsible “for the less damaging effects of beer on the liver” versus drinking other alcoholic beverages.
The researchers also found evidence that hops inhibit the formation of compounds called “reactive oxygen species.” These are particularly damaging to liver cells.4
Hops are the flowers of an herb that are added to beer for flavor. They also act as a natural preservative. One kind of beer is particularly high in hops. It’s called India pale ale, or IPA. It has a pronounced bitter flavor that many people find refreshing.
6 More Health Benefits of Beer
The new study is only the latest to show health benefits from moderate beer drinking:5
- Lower heart disease risk. Italian researchers found that moderate beer drinkers had a 42% lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Metabolic improvement. An Oregon State University study found that hops contain the natural flavonoid xanthohumol. It controls blood sugar and reduces weight gain.
- Stroke prevention. Researchers in Boston found people who have up to 14 drinks a week have fewer strokes than nondrinkers. They believe alcohol thins the blood, preventing clot formation.
- Fewer kidney stones. Researchers in Finland found that regular beer drinking lowers the risk of kidney stones by 40%.
- Faster workout recovery. A cold beer after exercise helps athletes recover quicker, according to a Spanish study.
- Cataract prevention. Canadian researchers found that a daily beer—especially a lager or stout—increases antioxidant activity that can stop cataracts.
If you’re going to enjoy a cold brew this weekend, try to find an organic variety. Conventional beers can be full of nasty artificial ingredients.
Organic beers are generally made by small brewers. They contain all-natural ingredients…no pesticides, additives, or other chemicals. We can all drink to that.
In Good Health,
Executive Director, INH Health Watch