Updated: May 12
As those of you who follow me know, I believe in a healthy sustainable lifestyle. What do I mean by sustainable? Well it means that you can keep it up for ever, so that means having some fun! Now you don’t have to be drunk to have fun! But.. the social lubricant that alcohol is, means that it often forms a part of relaxing with friends.
Sitting on the banks of the Canal du Midi with a cool glass of chilled rose, watching my husband using it to wash down those ox heart brochettes, the crisp hit of wine a soothing counterpoint to the hot Harrisa dipping sauce, drinking in ambience and sunshine as I watch life go by (check out my BBQ guide in freebies for the recipe). Enjoying a whole fruit margherita after one of those really loooong weeks, or relaxing in the cockpit whilst moored in the beautiful port of Sivota (#Sivota) with one of my husband’s most excellent G&Ts in hand, watching a flotilla of new sailors learning to tie up to the jetty make up some of my favourite memories. But after a long bike ride, run or hoisting the spinnaker on my own in the afternoon heat, the only thing that will cut it is an ice-cold beer! Those tiny bubbles cutting through the thirst at the back of your throat. Awesome.
Having a glass of red with your evening meal is well documented as having beneficial effects, so I thought I’d have a look at beer and see how nutritious it really is and what it all means in dietary terms.
The first thing to say is that alcohol is generally bad for you, sorry it’s just a fact. If you want to be super healthy just don’t put it in your body. However, in moderation its effects are normally mitigated as long as you don’t binge and enjoy it responsibly. If you have a medical condition, I would normally advise against it.
But after that common-sense message let’s get back to beer. Beer has been around for a long time! Did you know that the reason London could grow as large as it did in the Middle Ages was because most people drank beer instead of water, the natural L’eau du Thames not being the most pure. Nowadays beer comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes, colours and flavours. The first observation I would make is what I always say. Before you put it in your body, check the label, so you know what it is you are imbibing. As a general rule I also say natural products are better than processed. So apply these rules to what you are drinking.
The Germans take beer seriously, I remember attending a fireman’s convention with my husband, what girl would miss that opportunity! But the German fireman had beer for breakfast, I asked one of them about it and they said that it was normal for them, nutritious and full of energy. I’ve got to say I was a bit sceptical so did some research. They were drinking Erdinger Weiss beer (I think that means wheat beer) I looked it up and in good German efficiency they have a standard called “the purity laws” nothing to do with politics at all I’m assured.
Ingredients are; water, wheat malt, barley malt, hops, yeast. The purity laws preclude anything else so no additives. You will probably have seen my other blogs where I have a bit of a rant about sugar which is to my mind the enemy. Beer is 96% water so reasonably hydrating, a pint contains just over 2 teaspoons of sugar the higher the alcohol content generally the lower the sugar content take your pick for the lesser of 2 evils. But whatever the case it is much better than the 14 tsps found in a pint of coke.
Thanks to the yeast, beer is also a rich source of B12 and B9 (folic acid) which is great for producing new cells and improving your red blood cell count. It also contains flavonoid compounds which play a role in the chemoprevention of cancer. It is a good source of polyphenols that also help the body fight cancer.
You probably already know that Vitamin E is hydrophobic and is absorbed similarly to other dietary lipids. After solubilisation by bile acids, it is absorbed into the small intestinal cells, incorporated into chylomicrons, and transported into blood via lymphatics. The alcohol in the beer helps the process and the vitamin E helps mitigate the bad effects of alcohol so eat lots of sunflower seeds while you drink your pint!!
Rich in calcium for your bone mineral density it is packed with all of the essential and many non-essential but still beneficial amino acids. Other studies have shown it helps prevent Alzheimer’s, and balance hormones. Who knew!!
It’s no wonder those ancient Londoners did so well.
The good weather seems to have arrived so go on, blow the froth off a cold one!
Finally, although it is good for you in moderation, remember to drink sensibly.