The Health Benefits of Drinking Beer

With St. Patrick’s Day coming up, you’re likely planning on indulging in a little beer drinking and, surprise, it might even be good for you. Let’s separate fact from fiction on the health benefits of drinking beer.

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It is well known that drinking any type of alcohol heavily and on a long term basis can lead to alcoholic liver disease malnourishment, but small amounts of beer on an infrequent basis can provide you with B vitamins and contain more magnesium, calcium and potassium than other alcoholic beverages. Dark beers are thought to be even more nutritional compared to other types of beer and offer more fiber and iron.

But what about the beer gut, is that actually a thing? Technically yes, but drinking any alcoholic beverage in excess will pack on the calories and cause you to gain weight, not just beer. Empirical evidence on the benefits of beer is up in the air but a few studies have shown slight advantages of drinking beer in moderation only. As I always say, you’re allowed to treat yourself to an alcoholic beverage once in a while but always within your own limits.

There has also been some research that shows that beer can help prevent osteoporosis especially in women. The research I have seen is not convincing and is largely based on the premise that beer contains a high source of silicon, especially in brands with high levels of malted barley and hops. How does this contribute to osteoporosis prevention? Silicon may be important for the development of bone and connective tissue, and fortifying your diet with silicon can strengthen your skeletal system over time.

So does this mean beer should replace your daily dose of fresh vegetables and fruits? No, just because your St. Paddy’s Day pint is green doesn’t mean it’s the equivalent of kale, but my point is that recreational drinking likely won’t hurt your body in the long run if done in moderation. Enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day, hydrate before you drink and always drink responsibly.

dr. uruj kamal

dr. uruj kamal

Dr. Uruj Kamal is Chief Resident of Adult Outpatient Psychiatry at Baystate Medical Center-University of Massachusetts Medical School. A Stony Brook native, she enjoys combining her knowledge of mental health with healthy living. Dr. Kamal has a special interest in outpatient adult psychiatry.