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Beer with Benefits: Why Beer is an Unsung Health Hero

Cheers to your health! We're giving beer the green light as a beverage that complements your active and healthy lifestyle.

Beer with Benefits: Why Beer is an Unsung Health Hero

Spanish: Salud!

Afrikaans: Gesondheid!

French: À votre santé!

Irish: Sláinte!

Arabic: Fisehatak!

It's no surprise that "cheers" in a number of languages actually translates to "to your health!".

When you partake in a humble pint of our favorite drink, you're actually getting more benefit than you might realize. That's why, at Sufferfest, we see beer as part of a balanced diet — and science is on our side! Allow us to sing the (empirically validated) praises of the humble beer; crack open a cold one see why beer is so much more than a way to get buzzed on the weekends. #beerwithbenefits

It’s Good For Your Heart: There’s no shortage of research giving the green light to beer as a heart-healthy drink (in moderation, of course). With Americans, in particular, having incredibly high rates of heart disease, a beer a day might be just what the doctor ordered.

An 80,000 person study by Penn State researchers concluded that beer consumption is related to slow the decline of HDL (good cholesterol), while helping remove LDL (bad cholesterol) from the blood — keep in mind, this is for moderate consumption. The benefits are basically eliminated for heavy drinkers.

So, does that mean that a pint a day can keep the cardiologist away? Not necessarily... but if you're already healthy? Possibly. On its own, a healthy lifestyle lowers the risk of heart problems (duh). However, in men considered "healthy", consuming up to 30g of alcohol per day (that's about 3 standard drinks) was proven to lower risk of heart disease more compared to men who didn't drink any alcohol. What does it all mean? Alcohol is even more beneficial to healthy people (we call this "cardiovascular protective effect of moderate alcohol consumption"), and good old beer can compound the beneficial effects of a healthy lifestyle. See — this whole "sweat, then drink" thing doesn't seem so silly after all.

It’s Good For Your Bones: Once dairy milk was outed as being a calcium-leecher (don’t fight me on this, it’s true), many of us were left wondering where to turn for our bone-building calcium intake. In addition to getting your greens and working some weight-bearing exercise into your routine, throw a beer on that list. A study out of Cambridge University looked at the relationship between beer and bone density. What they found is that the combo of ethanol (which prevents bone loss), dietary silicon and orthosilicic acid (which encourage new bone growth) led to a significant relationship between knocking back a pint and fighting bone loss. Healthy heart, strong bones... can a pint of beer help you take over the world? But wait, there's more...

It Helps with Digestion: People tend to be polarized on whether or not beer is good for your gut. If you’re someone like many of us, a traditional beer will give you a stomach ache. However, a gluten-removed beer not addresses this problem for many people but also contains the same bitter acids and compounds (ethanol, maleic acid, succinic acid) that trigger the release of gastric acid in your stomach, aiding in digestion and preventing bad gut bacteria from taking up shop. This becomes especially helpful as we age; when gastric acid production slows, adding a beer to your meal can help fight indigestion. Furthermore, the natural probiotic effects of beer are often overlooked:Sufferfest Beer, like many others, boasts around a gram of soluble fiber naturally, just by virtue of its grain bill.

It Fights Inflammation: As athletes, you may have been advised to lay off ibuprofen consumption (“Vitamin I” as it’s known to many athletes), but for many athletes, muscle and tissue inflammation is something we deal with. Even for non-athletes, inflammation happens, often in response to stress, infection, or environmental factors. However, if you’re trying to sub out your daily dose of Advil for something else, you could do worse than beer: Hops, probably the most famous beer ingredient, aren’t just for the taste — the bitter acids in hops fight inflammation and can even prevent viral respiratory infection. Time for that IPA!

It Keeps Your Brain Sharp

We think you’re brilliant already, but if you’re trying to stay sharp as you age, you could do worse than a beer a day. A study of more than 12,000 elderly women in the New England Journal of Medicine found that women who had a drink a day had about 20% less cognitive impairment over time than women who didn’t drink. When it comes to your brain, an extra 20% is laughing matter – tell grandma and grandpa to keep the kegerator full.

It’s a Workout Recovery Drink (with caveats)

We’ve combed through studies that test the assertion that beer is an acceptable, even beneficial, post-workout drink. Honestly, it’s a mixed bag: beer has a ton of antioxidative properties, it does a bang-up job of hydrating you, and the carbs and electrolytes that occur naturally in beer are basically what sports drinks try to replicate. “A properly formulated beer beverage is likely to do you no more harm than you are likely to get with a sports drink… in fact, it’s probably likely to do you more good, because it’s got a lot of these sort of natural compounds, like polyphenols, that are actually good for your health,” contends Ben Desbrow, a sports nutritionist at Griffith University in Australia on an interview with NPR.

Still, nothing beats a great big swig of water after a good sweat (we're not total monsters), only to be followed by a cheers with friends to good health and good efforts.

So, next time you're chided for partaking from the keg, tell your detractors that you're trying to do the right thing for your heart, bones, digestion... you get the picture. Besides, even without the medically validated benefits, there's always the fact that sharing a beer with a friend is a recipe for a good time... and that's gotta be good for your mental health.

If your beer is pulling double-duty as a "health supplement" in any sense, let us know! Use the hashtag #beerwithbenefits and follow along with us as we extoll the virtues of beer.


PS: These gorgeous pictures are from the REI Sufferfest 10k, a stunning trail race that we were lucky enough to co-host in Marin County, CA. Check out more pictures here.

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