Beer's medicinal qualities

world | Jan 21, 2008 | By Robert Duncan

Photo by Stuart Whitmore

While eating lunch with colleagues from work the other day we we were joined by a doctor friend, and interestingly she began to insist that drinking beer was good for our health. In fact, she said that contrary to what we have been taught for years beer is not fattening - and it's better for you than wine.

To top it all off, she claimed that in my case three beers a day would be just what the doctor ordered.

Which I guess is what Benjamin Franklin meant when he said, "beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."

Unfortunately, my wife still thinks I made up the entire thing.

That's why I found the following interesting.

Drinking beer in moderation can be good for you, according to a Spanish medical report, which builds upon a similar one that found drinking a pint of beer could be more effective than red wine when it comes to battling heart disease. Tha's because, my doctor friend insisted amongst other things, beer has more vitamins than wine - such as B6 which she said helps stop heart disease linked to the build up of homocysteine.

In fact, two beers a day could help reduce the risk of getting Alzheimer's, according to the Spanish report that justifies the inclusion of the drink as a basic element in the Spanish diet and its "possible protecting factor."

I wonder how many husbands are now going to use Alzheimer's to justify drinking at least two beers a day ...

Testing at this stage is only being done by rats. While the authors didn't say if the beer-swilling rodents are going to the toilet more often, they did say those rats that have been drinking have a higher level of aluminum in their feces than teatotalling vermin.

That is actually a very important point, according to the report which focuses on beer's ability to offset the absorption of aluminum - a leading cause of Alzheimer's according to some scientists.

At first glance this would seem to be ironic, since beer cans also contain aluminum - of course, if one were really going for the medicinal points they would probably only drink bottled beer or on tap.

However, the authors claim that the silicon that is in beer actually reduces the presence of aluminum in the bloodstream, in brain material and limits the absorption of the metal in the gastrointestinal tract.

The report (La cerveza como fuente dietética de silicio y su efecto protector frente a la intoxicación por aluminio: influencia sobre la absorción y la acumulación de este metal neurotóxico) was written by Doctors María José González Munoz and Isabel Meseguer Soler from Spain's University of Alcalá de Henares.

Alzheimer's disease first symptom is typically a loss in memory that progresses until death, usually within a period of seven to 10 years. Of those patients who have dementia, almost half have Alzheimer's. It is also the most common type of dementia that is experienced among the elderly.

But before anybody starts thinking more is better, the researchers are quick to point out that "real" beer is alcoholic, and therefore moderation is needed.

The doctors suggest two beers per day for men, one beer a day for women - slightly less than what my doctor suggested.

Interestingly the report adds what would seem to be obvious: "On the other hand, it (beer) is absolutely not recommended for adolescents."

Of course, there is an alternative for those who still cannot be convinced to down beer in the fight against Alzheimer's: bananas, coffee, green beans, spinach and integral cereals all contain high quantities of silicon - but they don't taste quite as good on tap.



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Robert Steven Duncan is a consultant and a widely published foreign correspondent who lives in Spain. Besides having articles appearing in WSJ, Barron's, Smart Money, Newsweek, the National Catholic Register and many other places, he has held various leadership posts in the communication sector. He publishes the "RSD Report" at

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only, not of Spero News.

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