The health of your gut microbiome has many implications for your physical and mental health, from your risk of stroke to anxiety. That’s why taking care of your gut bacteria, such as increasing its diversity, is key to living a healthy life. Research has shown that eating more fermented foods can go a long way toward microbiome diversity. Now a new study says we can add beer to the list too.
A beer for the gut
That’s right, a research team in Portugal has found that drinking lager beer in moderation can help increase the bacteria diversity in your gut. The most important takeaway from the study, however, is that both traditional brews and non-alcoholic beers may do the trick.
As part of the study, the researchers conducted a double-blind, randomized study with 19 healthy males. The participants were divided into two groups that drank 11 oz (325 ml) of either alcoholic or non-alcoholic beer with their dinner over four weeks.
The researchers collected fecal and blood samples before and after the study and analyzed the gut microbiome through an RNA gene sequencing technique. An interesting finding was that drinking beer in such quantities did not lead to weight gain and did not interfere with heart health and metabolism.
The most important change, however, happened at the gut level, where the bacteria’s diversity increased in both groups. The team also observed higher levels of fecal alkaline phosphatase, which is often used to measure gut health. The researchers believe that this may result from the polyphenol compounds in the beer and the microorganisms that assist its fermentation.
Opt for the non-alcoholic version
While the findings indicate that one can of beer may contribute to a healthier gut, the authors are wary to emphasize that the healthiest number of alcoholic drinks per day is, of course, still zero. Considering that the alcohol in the beer had nothing to do with the increase in microbiome diversity, the study provides yet another good reason to walk towards the non-alcohol aisle in the supermarket.
Source study: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry — Impact of Beer and Nonalcoholic Beer Consumption on the Gut Microbiota: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Controlled Trial