Beer & Your Health
Updated: Apr 16, 2020
Patio season is among us.
Yes, I’m going to be that health practitioner who posts about beer.
I am in no way advocating that people start drinking beer or saying that beer is good for your health (because #alcohol) - but for those who know me, I’m all about craft beer and trying new places in Ontario. So I figured I’d share some facts about it and why you should think twice about choosing which beer to drink while you’re out.
Beer is made up of these 4 essential ingredients:
Barley + Hops + Water + Yeast
Brewers extract the sugars from grain so the yeast can turn it into alcohol + carbon dioxide (which makes it carbonated!).
Malting → Start with grains (barley, wheat, rye.. etc).
Mashing → Releases sugars. The liquid is called wort.
Boiling → Add hops + spices to the wort. Interestingly, when hops are used near the beginning of the brewing process it gives beer that bitterness and when added to the end, it gives beer the aroma. The hops also act as a natural preservative.
Fermentation → Wort is strained & filtered and yeast is added to make the alcohol content.
Voila! You’ve got your beer.
You always see these on menus when you choose your beer but what do they mean?
ABV stands for Alcohol by Volume. It can vary 2% - 12%. It describes how much alcohol is in it versus other things. IBU stands for International Bitterness Units. It measures the bitterness from the hops in a beer on a scale of 0 - 100. This unit is also affected by malts. So a stout with a high IBU may not be bitter and rather be sweet.
Now onto the good stuff!
Beer contains Magnesium, selenium, potassium, phosphorus, biotin & a handful of B vitamins. The conventional way of brewing beer is to filter it in its last step. This gives the beer a nice clear and fresh appearance. It was only until recently that many microbreweries popped up over the province and in came the cloudy weird looking unfiltered beer.
What’s the difference?
By filtering the beer at its last step, it removes most (if not all) of the nutrients in the beer. Most commercial breweries are fine filtered.
So what’s the low down??
In general, darker beers contain more nutrients than the lighter ales, but not by a lot. Choosing unfiltered, unpasteurized, bottle conditioned beer is wise since no filtering has occurred to get rid of nutrients. If you can get a hold of a cask ale - unpasteurized, unfiltered and ferments right in the cask, go for it… although all the ones I’ve tried had a high ABV.
The main buzzkill though is that beer contains ALCOHOL (... shocker) and alcohol is known to deplete a bunch of vitamins in our body such as vitamins C, B1, B2, B6, D, and E. Therefore, especially in excess, all these vitamins would be zapped from our bodies anyways. Sorry.
Take away points → enjoy local unfiltered, darker beers, in small amounts if you’re trying to reap whatever health benefit possible while drinking.
*Dr. Melody does not encourage alcohol consumption or believe that beer is a healthy beverage. She is merely suggesting facts about beer & wants people to enjoy their life - however they wish to do so. * <-- sorry, I had to add this in just in case.
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