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One bottle of lager each day leads to a beneficial gut microbiome

Each of the participants recorded higher levels of fecal alkaline phosphatase, a signal of an improvement in intestinal health.

Brexit hangover for UK pub chain as beer runs dry
UK pub chain Wetherspoon has said that it has run out of some top-selling lagers - Copyright AFP Christof STACHE
UK pub chain Wetherspoon has said that it has run out of some top-selling lagers - Copyright AFP Christof STACHE

A new slice of microbiome investigative work has found that lager beer, whether it contains alcohol or not, could aid gut microbes and help to keep certain diseases at bay. This adds to other research that suggests some beverages may have some health benefits, when consumed in moderation. This is especially so with non-alcoholic varieties of beer.

These findings are based on a pilot study where researchers report that compared to their pre-trial microbiome, men who drank either one lager daily had a more diverse set of gut microbes, which can reduce the risk for some diseases. This was irrespective of whether alcoholic or non-alcoholic types of beer were drunk.

In terms of ‘beer’, the study focuses on lager. Lager is a type of beer which has been brewed and conditioned at low temperature. With drinkers the choice is essentially between ales and lagers. The difference between these two beverages also comes down to the type of yeast used.

READ MORE: The evolution of lager yeast charted

The balance of microorganisms in the human gut is important and an imbalance can lead to various metabolic diseases. Conversely, studies have shown that when more beneficial bacteria are present, people tend to have a lower chance of developing chronic diseases.

Could beer be a source of these beneficial bacteria?

Beer contains polyphenols and microorganisms the at derive from its fermentation. Both the compounds and the microbes from beer could affect the microbial balance within the human gut. This is based on gut microbiome diversity increasing when beer is consumed.

The researchers examined these issues by undertaking a parallel, randomized trial design using two separate groups of participants. Here, 19 healthy men were randomly divided into two groups. Both groups drank 11 fluid ounces of either alcoholic or non-alcoholic lager with dinner for 4 weeks.

The researchers discovered that the participants’ weight, body mass index and serum markers for heart health and metabolism did not change during the study. However, at the end of the 4-week period, both groups had greater bacterial diversity in their gut microbiome. Furthermore, each of the participants recorded higher levels of fecal alkaline phosphatase, a signal of an improvement in intestinal health.

The data suggests that consuming one bottle of beer, regardless of its alcohol content, may be beneficial to the gut microbiome and intestinal health of men.

Based on other health factors, the safest level of alcohol consumption is none, therefore non-alcoholic beer may present the more healthful choice.

The research appears in the publication Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, with the research titled “Impact of Beer and Nonalcoholic Beer Consumption on the Gut Microbiota: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Controlled Trial.”

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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