is beer good for you
-Vu Ngo, DC, MSACN, CPT
Do some of you remember those friends of ours that slept quite soundly following the consumption of a beer or more? Beer has been shown to have some health benefits taken in moderation on a regular basis. One of the more common benefits of beer is that is can be a good source of silicon which is beneficial to bone health. 1 I want to present some other benefits that accompany the consumption of beer, in this case one non-alcoholic beer in the evening.
The hops, or the female flowers of Humulus lupulus, in beer can provide benefits for individuals with difficulty sleeping and it can also provide anti-inflammatory benefits. The recommendation is the consumption of one non-alcoholic beverage at about 6:00 PM to improve sleep, fight chronic inflammation, and also fight atherosclerosis.
In considering the consumption of one non-alcoholic beer, there is evidence showing the hop component of the beer has sedative effects due to the bitter resin, α-acid component 2-methyl-3-buten-2-ol. 2 The action of this component is in increasing the γ-aminobutyric (GABA) activity as well as inhibiting the central nervous system (CNS). 2 The affective dose shown to reproduce that beneficial effect is 2 mg, whereas 1 mg yielded negligible changes, and 11 mg reproduced an undesired and late response that occurred during the early part of the day after administration. 2 The equivalent of 2 mg of hop is one non-alcoholic beer, which is a very reasonable amount to drink.
It has also been shown that ethyl acetate present in the hop from the beer suppresses the expression of inducible Nitric Oxide Synthase (iNOS) 3, whose activity promotes inflammation and free radical production, which can lead to increased inflammation, tissue destruction, and autoimmunity. 4 The other synthases in the family of Nitric Oxide Synthases, endothelial NOS (eNOS) and neuronal NOS (nNOS), are beneficial in contrast to the iNOS. The nNOS aids in neuronal synapases, whereas eNOS triggers dilation of blood vessels, glucose uptake, and mitochondrial activation. 4 Hop extract also inhibits prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) production, which is an arachadonic acid metabolite 5. The levels of PGE2 is generally low in healthy tissue, but is ramped up during inflammation.
Evidence shows that the polyphenols present in the hop of the beer have health-protective properties. 6 The polyphenols xanthohumol (XN) and its metabolite isoxanthohumol (IXN) has been shown to inhibit inflammation, hyperplasia such as atherosclerosis by acting on cell apoptosis on vascular walls, as well as inhibiting angiogenesis by helping in the differentiation of endothelial cells. 6 This is important as inflammation can lead to angiogenesis, and the development of angiogenesis sustains the inflammation. 6
The mild consumption of non-alcoholic beer provides multiple benefits as currently seen in scientific evidence. As with science, this is subject to change as our understanding of the human body continues to expand.
1. Jugdaohsingh R. Silicon and Bone Health. Journal of Nutritional Health and Aging. March 2009;2:99-110.
2. Franco L, Sánchez C, Bravo R, Rodriguez A, Barriga C, Cubero JC. The sedative effects of hops (Humulus lupulus) , a component of beer, on the activity/rest rhythm. Acta Physiologica Hungarica. June 2012;2:133-139.
3. Zhao F, Nozawa H, Daikonnya A, Kondo K, Kitanaka S. Inhibitors of Nitric Oxide Production from Hops (Humulus lupulus L.). Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. January 2003;1:61-65.
4. Kharrazian D. The Neuroendocrine Immunology of Andropause, 2015; Costa Mesa.
5. Hougee S, Faber J, Sanders AM, et al. Selective inhibition of COX‐2 by a standardized CO2 extract of Humulus lupulus L. in vitro and its activity in a mouse model of zymosaninduced arthritis. Planta Medica. 2006;72:228-233.
6. Negrao R, Costa R, Duarte D, et al. Angiogenesis and infl ammation signaling are targets of beer polyphenols on vascular cells. Journal of Cellular Biochemistry. Decmeber 2010;111:1270–1279.