Beer drinking is often intertwined with cultural practices such as the corporate "happy hour" or global beer festivals, like the world-famous Oktoberfest, highlighting the beverage's significance in society.
Beer, which is made with grains, hops, and yeast, has some nutritional elements like potassium, magnesium, B vitamins, dietary fiber, selenium, and protein, all of which contribute to human health.
Interestingly, a 2013 study suggests that the flavor of beer alone can stimulate dopamine activity in the male brain, thus releasing feelings of happiness and momentarily relieving daily stress. Additionally, the study found that this effect was more prominent in men who had a close family member, such as a parent or sibling, who suffered from alcoholism.
However, another study published in 2007 found that people are more prone to engage in binge drinking specifically with beer, as opposed to other alcoholic beverages. In fact, 74.4 percent of the more than 14,000 adult binge drinkers observed in the study exclusively or predominantly consumed beer.
Despite containing less alcohol than wine and liquor, beer still carries its own share of harm—even in moderate quantities—due to its alcohol content. Consequently, when a person chooses to abstain from beer, several positive health effects can occur.
1. Trims WaistlineBeer is notorious for its high calorie content, with a pint of regular beer containing more than 150 calories. Even light beer isn't much better, containing over 100 calories per pint. Since beer cannot replace proper nutrition, these extra calories can hinder the body's ability to burn off excess fat, making weight loss challenging.
According to one study, men consuming 1,000 milliliters—or about two pints—of beer daily have a 17 percent higher risk of having a bigger waist circumference than those who consume less. This expanded waistline is associated with a higher risk of developing heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. People may also experience changes in waist size due to beer consumption, including bloating and possibly fluid retention, according to research. Therefore, by reducing or eliminating beer from your diet, you may shed weight and reduce your waist size.
2. Liver and Heart Function ImprovesQuitting drinking beer, and alcohol in general, offers numerous benefits for your health, including improved liver function and a healthier heart.
According to a paper in Experimental and Molecular Pathology, long-term alcohol consumption can lead to various liver-related conditions, such as fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and even liver cancer.
The liver has remarkable self-repairing and self-healing abilities. For example, fatty liver can be reversed in as little as two weeks after stopping alcohol consumption, according to a 2021 article in the journal Alcohol Research Current Reviews. While conditions like alcohol-induced fibrosis and cirrhosis may also occur upon quitting alcohol, any existing scar tissue in the liver will remain. However, a severely damaged liver is typically irreversible and may increase the risk of developing cancer.
Binge drinking or prolonged alcohol consumption can result in alcohol-induced cardiac damage, including necrosis, or heart cell death. Alcohol can act as a toxin that weakens the heart muscle, leading to a condition known as alcoholic cardiomyopathy.
When you stop drinking, certain alcohol-induced cardiac conditions can improve, according to the 2021 article. This includes a reduction or disappearance of alcoholic cardiomyopathy, accompanied by improved heart function. Furthermore, several indicators of heart health, such as heart rate and blood pressure, can show improvement toward normal levels within one month of giving up alcohol.
Although previous studies have indicated potential cardiovascular benefits associated with moderate alcohol consumption, recent evidence casts doubt on the strength of this claim. Several biases in these studies, such as the inclusion of non-alcohol-related health factors like dietary habits, financial stability, and body weight, may have contributed to misleading conclusions.
Therefore, it’s advisable to consider quitting drinking beer for the potential benefits of enhanced heart and liver function.
3. Reduces Risk of Hyperuricemia and GoutRegular beer contains a significant amount of purines, which are organic compounds released during the brewing process when yeast and wort (the liquid extracted from mashing malted grains) interact. When consumed, these purines are metabolized into uric acid in the body. This can result in elevated levels of uric acid in the bloodstream increasing, thus increasing the risk of hyperuricemia and triggering gout.
Hyperuricemia is the term used to describe higher-than-normal levels of uric acid in the bloodstream, often leading to the development of gout. Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis, primarily characterized by pain in the affected joint. The joint may also become red, swollen, and stiff.
4. Prevents Beer AllergiesCertain individuals may experience allergies to barley malt and wheat, which are commonly used in beer production. Symptoms of this beer allergy can include hives or skin rash, as well as stomach cramps.
While beer allergies are considered rare, affecting approximately 6 percent of Americans who are allergic to wheat, they can still occur and catch people by surprise. There have been documented cases, such as a 32-year-old male patient, who exhibited an allergy specifically to beer despite tolerating other types of alcoholic beverages without issue.
Some research suggests a particular type of barley malt protein may be responsible for these allergic reactions.
Who Should Avoid Drinking Beer?Not everyone should consume beer. These people should steer clear.
People With Certain Medical Conditions“Individuals with liver or kidney disease, pancreatitis, epilepsy, or mental health disorders, and those with a history of alcohol-related accidents should abstain from beer to protect their health and well-being," Brook McKenzie, licensed chemical dependency counselor intern and chief operating officer of the Burning Tree addiction treatment program in Dallas, told The Epoch Times.
People with certain heart rhythm abnormalities should also avoid drinking beer to prevent their conditions from worsening.
People with diabetes or prediabetes should also avoid beer, and alcohol in general, since consumption can worsen diabetes-related medical complications.
People Taking Medications That Interact With AlcoholCertain medications, such as painkillers (e.g., acetaminophen and NSAIDs), anxiety medications (e.g., benzodiazepines), sleeping pills (e.g., zolpidem), antidepressants (e.g., phenelzine), cardiovascular drugs (e.g., warfarin), and antimicrobials (e.g., erythromycin), can interact negatively with alcohol.
Consuming beer while taking these medications can potentially diminish their effectiveness, lead to memory problems, and even result in fatal consequences due to overdose or injury.