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Every few months, the newspapers will cheerfully announce that drinking a moderate amount of alcohol is good for you; while this is usually celebrated, the problem is that it’s usually based on ‘a glass of red wine’. As we already know, even two beers can be exceptionally different, so what about if you prefer beer to red wine? Surely you can’t say the health benefits of red wine are automatically equal to beer?
Put simply, the two aren’t the same. Wine comes from grapes, beer comes from grains and they have very different life cycles, different brewing processes and – more importantly – different nutritional values. The good news for beer drinkers is that some studies suggest that an IPA may be better for the body than a glass of merlot.
Generally speaking, it appears that a pint of beer and a glass of red wine both reduce the risk of heart disease by around a third, and beer and wine both contain similar levels of anti-oxidants. This is where the similarities in the health benefits of the two types of alcohol diverge, as a pint of beer is essentially a glass full of vitamins and minerals!
Beer, as a general rule, contains more of the B-vitamin complex than wine – with one Dutch research team’s results suggesting that beer drinkers actually retain more vitamin B6 than teetotallers. Beer is also a great source of dietary silicon that aids bones and soluble fibre, which helps the intestines to keep us healthy. There have been some studies reporting that women who partake of a glass of beer regularly can reduce the risk of osteoporosis, where bones become more brittle and weak with age.
What is fascinating, however, is how good a beer can be at promoting healthy intestines. We’ve all seen the adverts regarding ‘good bacteria’, which forms the basis of pro-biotics to help the gut, but beer can also be a ‘pre-biotic’ where the carbohydrates actually feed the good bacteria.
So, knowing this, what does gluten-free beer have to offer? As covered in our earlier blog we’re aware that for those with Coeliac Disease or sensitivity, it’s the gluten in the diet that affects the gut and causes an inflammatory reaction. It’s worth remembering that due to the large amounts of wheat products and gluten used in food additives these days, many healthcare professionals are thinking that there may simply be too much gluten in our diet and that steps to reduce the amount ingested could offer positive health benefits. Given that beer itself can already have a good impact on the body in terms of how the gut works, it would appear that choosing a gluten free option, free from the proteins found in barley-based beers could prevent the inflammatory action of gluten for people who are sensitive.
Now there’s something worth drinking to!