Friday, January 14, 2011

A Beer a Day Keeps The Doctor Away

Quick! Stop what you're doing - go tell your friends that you're all going for a pint tonight. Perhaps you think I'm crazy to be promoting beer drinking, but really, it can be just as good for you as wine! Drinking wine in moderation is an important part of the Mediterranean diet and has many touted health benefits including reducing diabetes and heart disease risks and even weight loss. So go ahead, now you mentally group beer in that category as well.

Please don't assume I'm telling you it's OK to go binge drinking. Yes, alcohol is a tricky thing - studies have proven time and time again that in healthy individuals (i.e. free of illness), having a little alcohol has many benefits to heart health and disease prevention as compared with not having any drinks or too many drinks. Having 1 drink of 5 oz wine, 1 oz spirits or 355 mL beer for a woman and 2 for a man each day is actually protective in healthy people. You wouldn't know it, but beer actually contains folic acid, vitamins, iron and calcium.

Think of it as a U-shaped curve on a graph - your risk of heart disease is higher on the left hand side with no drinks, lower in the middle at 1-2 drinks, and then pops back up and goes up, up and away beyond 2 drinks. Beer gets a bad rap because it's associated with beer bellies and belching, which is part in parcel to alcohol's ability to make us want to nosh - most obviously on fatty foods like chips and take out. In other words, drinking heavily is bad for your health, but sip on that brew and you'll outlive a sea turtle (don't hold me to that).