According to experts, lager beer can improve gut microbiota, which plays a role in digestion, when drank in moderation. In a study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 19 men aged between 23 and 58 were randomly split into two groups. The groups consumed a 330ml bottle of either alcoholic or non-alcoholic lager with their dinner over a period of four weeks.
The men were told to keep up their usual levels of physical activity and maintain the same kind of dietary habits they normally follow.
By the end of the test, faecal sample revealed the men had a wider range of bacteria in their gut.
This was the case in both groups.
The results also indicated that both groups had seen some improvements in their intestinal health.
The volunteers’ weight, BMI (body mass index) and blood markers for heart health also all remained the same during the period.
The study was published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.
Prof Ana Faria from NOVA University Lisbon, lead study author, said: “One beer per day, with or without alcohol, can be used as a strategy to improve our microbiota, as part of a well-balanced diet.
“But we need to be careful with the results so that we don’t pass the message that the more the better.”
Beer contains what are known as polyphenols, which are plant compounds found in hops, barley and yeast.
These occur during fermentation and can have an effect on the variety of microbes in the gut, in turn impacting digestion.
“In addition, some beers may contain live fermentation microorganisms.
“The Flemish Gut Flora Project, one of the largest population-wide studies to assess the variation of gut microbiota among healthy individuals, has shown beer consumption is a key influence on the overall microbiota composition.
“Therefore, given the importance of the gut microbiota in the pathophysiology of obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, gut microbiota modulation might constitute another mechanism mediating the effects of beer on health.”
The researchers chose to select men for the study as it “was an exploratory study, and to reduce confounders, we only choose men”, Prof Faria said.
She added: “It would be very interesting to conduct a larger study including men and women, and maybe a wider age range.”