Just about everyone who enjoys beer has wondered if it is good or bad for their health. There is no simple answer to this question. But, the vast majority of beer aficionados are neither neo-prohibitionists, nor alcoholics; they are folks like you who Savor the Flavor Responsibly®.
In our society, we are taught from an early age that alcohol consumption is a social vice, and one only to be risked by adults. This is an oversimplification of a very complex set of historical, social, and health-related issues that have made beer a very integral part of history. Beer has been intertwined in American culture since the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. The end of Prohibition marked the only constitutional amendment to ever be repealed. As a society, we’ve had a love-hate relationship with our drink; the history of beer alone is enough to make you wonder.
Well, wonder no more. An ever-growing body of research confirms that responsibly enjoying beer as part of a healthy diet can promote your well being. In fact, the USDA dietary guidelines specifically mention the health benefits of moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages. The next time you pour yourself a craft beer, or maybe you are enjoying one now, you should know that there are a variety of health benefits from moderate consumption of your favorite malted beverage, including longevity, decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, kidney stones, and more. On the flip side, overindulgence of beer, or any alcoholic beverage, will have negative effects.
One excellent source for information on both the positive and negative effects of alcohol consumption is the Foundation for Alcohol Research (ABMRF). ABMRF funds and supports research on the medical and social effects of alcohol consumption, and distributes a weekly email update which summarizes and links to current research findings. You can sign up to receive these updates at the bottom right of the ABMRF homepage. A directory summarizing ABMRF funded research since 1982 is also available. ABMRF research is supported in part by U.S. and Canadian brewers, beer importers, suppliers, wholesalers, individuals, as well as the Brewers Association, publishers of CraftBeer.com. ABMRF can also be found on Facebook and Twitter, with posts outlining current research topics and results.
Here are a few more articles exploring beer and health:
- “Defensive Drinking: Alcohol and Your Health” – Brighams and Women’s Hospital
- “Alcohol over time: Still under control?” – The Harvard Medical School
- “Celiac Disease, Beer and Brewing” – Michael J. Lewis
Chris Swersey is the Technical Brewing Projects Coordinator for the Brewers Association and he monitors the topic of Beer and Health for the Association. He can be reached at email@example.com.