Health Benefits of Raising a Pint

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations seem to have recently expanded into a week-long excuse to indulge in food and drink hailing from the Emerald Isle; and whether it’s dyed green or not, stout or ale, beer is chief among the holiday’s libations.   Although beer gets a bad rap these days for being high in carbohydrates and too much alcohol of any kind can be detrimental to good health, there are some surprising benefits to occasionally sudsing up.  

According to a recent piece in Food and Wine magazine, moderate beer consumption may actually do the body good.  Older women who drink beer are less likely to develop dementia and have a higher bone density than non-drinkers and studies have shown a pint of beer a day can reduce the risk for heart disease by as much as 31 percent.   A single beer a day can also reduce the risk for developing kidney stones, gall stones, ulcers, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and type 2 diabetes.  And if all that wasn’t enough, researchers have found that moderate drinkers between the ages of 55 and 65 are less likely to die than adults of the same age who have abstained from alcohol their whole lives.  

Because beer is a prebiotic, it can help improve gut health.  It contains antioxidants, minerals and vitamins that can help protect bone density and prevent or delay the onset of osteoporosis.  In general, alcohol in moderation(no more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks for men) can be beneficial for heart health by lowering bad cholesterol and raising good cholesterol levels in healthy adults. 

Beer, like all alcoholic beverages, can be high in calories and drinking more than what is considered moderate consumption can lead to obesity.  Alcohol consumption is also linked with an increased risk for breast cancer.   It is not recommended that non-drinkers start consuming alcohol for any perceived health benefits. Always talk with your doctor to make sure that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol will not interact with medications.  Older adults process alcohol differently than younger people and drinking alcohol may cause confusion or balance problems that can lead to a fall and possible injury.  

Always use caution when drinking alcohol and plan ahead for transportation.  Otherwise, moderate beer drinkers can feel a little better about raising a pint this week or any other.  Sláinte mhaith (good health).