Drinking beer a day would be very beneficial for the gut microbiota.

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We now know that the gut microbiota plays an important role in health. In addition, any approach that can enhance this bacterial population deserves our interest. A new study suggests that daily lager consumption leads to a greater diversity of gut microbes, reducing the risk of certain diseases. Whether it’s alcoholic beer or not, it provides the same benefits.

Our gut microbiota is made up of billions of bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other fungi. These microorganisms not only play a role in digestive and metabolic functions, but are also involved in the functioning of the immune and neurological systems. This is why alteration of the microbiota (what is called “gut dysbiosis”) is sometimes the cause of some inflammatory or autoimmune diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Thus, the microbiota as a potential therapeutic target is the subject of many studies today. The goal is to help patients regain a balanced and functional microbiota. Previous studies have shown that when men and women consumed non-alcoholic lager beer for 30 days, the diversity of gut microbes increased. Based on this observation, a team from the New University of Lisbon wanted to study the impact of beer consumption on the microbiota.

Much more diverse microbial population

Their study is based on a sample of 22 healthy men who were asked by the researchers to drink 330 ml of lager every day at dinner for four weeks. Some drank alcoholic beer (5.2% alcohol), while others drank non-alcoholic beer. Blood and stool samples were collected before and after the experiment. The gut microbiota was then analyzed by sequencing the 16S ribosomal RNA gene (which constitutes the small subunit of prokaryotic ribosomes).

The team reports that this moderate beer consumption did not lead to an increase in body weight or fat among the participants. In addition, it did not significantly alter serum markers of heart and metabolic health. On the other hand, it appears that daily beer consumption increased gut microbiota diversity regardless of alcohol content.

However, studies have shown that when multiple types of bacteria inhabit the gastrointestinal tract, people are less likely to develop chronic diseases such as heart disease or diabetes. The data also showed that drinking beer led to an increase in fecal alkaline phosphatase activity, a marker of gut barrier function.

Regardless of alcohol, these effects can be caused by chemical compounds present in beer. This drink, made from barley malt and hops, contains fiber, polyphenols (tannins) known for their antioxidant properties, and yeast used for alcoholic fermentation.

The balance of benefit and risk that remains to be explored

Scientists are increasingly interested in the potential health effects of low to moderate alcohol consumption and, in particular, beer. This has often been associated with a protective effect against cardiovascular disease and a reduced risk of mortality (compared to people who abstain from alcohol), positive effects supported by a meta-analysis of recent scientific evidence.

Beer is mostly water, but it is also rich in nutrients (carbohydrates, amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and polyphenols) from the multi-step brewing and fermentation process. Hop flowers, used as a bittering and flavoring agent, contain phenolic compounds with various antioxidant, anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, estrogenic and antiviral biological activities. However, it is especially difficult to determine the exact amount of beer needed to achieve these benefits without increasing the risks associated with alcohol consumption.

Thus, this new study suggests that moderate beer consumption may have beneficial effects on the gut microbiota. But the team notes that these effects are independent of alcohol — non-alcoholic beer causes the same results. Therefore, scientists note that it is better to opt for a non-alcoholic version if you want to take care of your microbiota. ” We hope people understand that moderate beer consumption as part of a balanced diet can be used as a microbiota improvement strategy. In particular, thanks to the responsible choice of non-alcoholic beer. “, said ReverseAna Faria, corresponding author of the study.

Drinking alcohol is generally associated with many health risks (hepatitis, high blood pressure, heart disease, etc.). Several scientific papers, including a recent large-scale genetic study, have even established a direct causal relationship between alcohol and certain types of cancer. Some scientists are skeptical about the results obtained by Faria and his colleagues, and consider it necessary to conduct this study on a much larger sample, including hundreds or thousands of individuals.

Source: C. Marquez et al., Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

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