A Craft Beer a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Health Benefits of Craft Beer

Beer and health benefits in the same sentence? If you’re thinking, Krista, you’re full of shyt – today is your lucky day. It’s true, beer does offer positive effects on your health. Just know that before you start hooking up an Imperial Stout intravenous drip, I’m not going to tell you to stop eating your vegetables or anything of that sort. Beer is by no means a replacement for a balanced diet, buuuuut it sure as hell can accompany one. Want to suck back suds without any guilt? Check out these health benefits.

There are plenty of reasons to get behind the booming craft beer industry – from job growth to creative development, quality to more sustainable practices, the craft beer community is easy to support. This industry provides us with complex beers that people are excited to experience and talk about. There’s no doubt that this community is growing, as we gain access to more and more high-quality brews.

The amount of love and support for the beer community comes as no surprise – this liquid gold is one of the oldest human-produced beverages within written history. Go figure, eh? We’ve been guzzling back suds for thousands of years because let’s be honest, it’s amazing. It has the history and flavour to back it up, but what about its effect on your health?

When you hear people say that beer can promote positive health, you more than likely give your head a shake. Ugh, those beer lovers, trying to justify their drinking habits.

Guess what?

Christmas came early, because when consumed in moderation – there’s actually some merit to this madness.

Just remember, moderation means one beer a day for us ladies and two for our lucky male counterparts.

Like many food and drink-related health benefits, it’s all about moderation and quality. Pure dark chocolate, for instance, is known to support positive cardiovascular health, but that doesn’t mean you should be eating twenty bars a day – unless, of course, it’s been melted down and turned into a beautiful Dark Chocolate Stout.

Although we’ve lucked out this month in terms of the weather, the cold snaps are on their way and a Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout, such as Muskoka’s Winter Beard will be the perfect after dinner treat to warm you up.

Let’s dive in.

For years, wine drinkers have been able to happily consume their one to two glasses a day – doctor’s orders. Based on more recent research, however, it appears that moderate consumption of any alcohol reduces your risk of cardiovascular complications and beer – well, it offers more protein and B-complex vitamins than wine.

So, where do these benefits come from?

Although breweries often jazz up their recipes with additional ingredients, beer contains water; a starch, such as malted barley; yeast, in order to produce fermentation; and hops for flavour.

Let’s just focus on hops for a quick second. We all know that this stunning ingredient adds flavour, aroma, and bitterness, but did you know it’s also packed with antioxidants?

Not fibbin’, it’s science. Check out this study, published in the Journal of Nutrition and Biochemistry if you don’t believe me. After beer was consumed, antioxidant levels in blood were elevated.

More specifically, hops provides your body with polyphenols which combat free-radicals and lower LDL or bad cholesterol levels. It’s clear that the craft beer industry is not shy of hops and in this case, quality most certainly reigns supreme.

The nutrients from barley and hops also find their way into those frosty bottles you pop, including, but not limited to:

  • Niacin – supports cardiovascular health and nerve function.
  • Zinc – required to make proteins and supports healing. When deficient, both your sense of taste and smell can be diminished – a big no-no for beer drinkers.
  • Riboflavin – humans require a daily dose, as it cannot be stored in the body. It promotes the production of both energy and red blood cells.
  • Fibre – essential for both digestive and heart health, as well as weight loss.
  • Calcium – builds strong bones and teeth, while supporting nerve, muscle, and heart function.
  • Magnesium – activates nerves and acts as a precursor to your feel-good neurotransmitter, serotonin.

You know that saying, you are what you eat? Well, it’s more like you are what you digest. Beer significantly benefits your gut – and no, not the gut you’ve accumulated from years of Friday night fish and chips and patio beers. With each bottle you sink, there are some remarkable effects on your digestive system.

Here’s your fun fact for the day, 70 percent of your immune system is located in your gut. We all know that if you want to avoid illness and inflammation, you need to promote positive immune function. More specifically, you want to promote balance within your gut flora – the complex community of microbes that live in our digestive tract. Once your digestive tract and colon are imbalanced in terms of bacteria, your body doesn’t absorb nutrients as effectively.

Good bacteria = YES, grow and be merry

Bad bacteria = NO, hit the bricks

You may have heard that fermented foods, such as sauerkraut and kefir help build colonies of healthy bacteria.

You know what else is fermented?

Beeeeer.

I’m not under any grand illusions, thinking that beer will soon be listed as a health food, next to fermented vegetables – but there is no denying that beer is a fermented product. The fermentation process when brewing, simply means that yeast converts starch into alcohol and carbon dioxide.

In the case of unpasteurized beer, the alcohol content kills any harmful bacteria, yet provides living microorganisms, such as live yeast and enzymes. For those of you who dig bottle-conditioned brews, you’re drinking unpasteurized, unfiltered beauties. Of course, not all, but many craft beers are unfiltered and unpasteurized, including Muskoka Brewery’s Winterweiss. It is such a treat.

Muskoka Brewery - Winter Weiss

For those who were recently at Cask Days, you can appreciate a cask-conditioned brew. This is the old fashion way, offering up fresh beer that is pure and full of flavour.

Once again, there’s no comparison between a mass-produced light lager and an Imperial IPA sourced from a microbrewery. Craft beer is brewed using more traditional methods and doesn’t rely on ingredients such as GMO corn and rice. Whole, natural ingredients are utilized without boatloads of preservatives or additives. There are some breweries, such as Beau’s, that take this process one step further, promoting local, organic ingredients – which add to the quality of their beer.

The key is quality over quantity. This is the case with many microbreweries in terms of production, however, the quality of beer also applies to your health. If you’re out at the pub, sink back a couple of high-quality brews instead of six watered-down pints of piss.

Also, be conscious of what you’re chomping on when you’re drinking. It’s often the greasy food which accompanies a night out that threatens your health. Obviously, if you suffer from any health conditions or take any medication, have a little chat with your doctor before you begin your craft beer health boost.

So, the next time you’re having a cheeky unfiltered Dunkelweizen on a Tuesday night, don’t fret. Sip that brew with joy, not guilt – it’s on your side. 

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