3+ surprising health benefits from drinking beer

More and more types of craft beer are appearing in stores and in pubs every day. For some, trying different new beers has become a hobby of sorts.

But many beer lovers choose not to indulge. They may be in a situation where they have to drive or get to work, and can’t have alcohol, or they’re determined to avoid the calories that contribute to that infamous “beer belly.”

For these folks, there’s non-alcoholic beer. That’s right: all the flavor and pleasure of a nice cold brew, without the alcohol.

And just listen to this: not only has alcohol-free beer left the calories and alcohol behind; it’s actually good for you, sometimes even more than drinking water!

Just take a look at the research…

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Better health outcomes for athletes

Non-alcoholic beer got its start in Germany in 1973. It was marketed as the “car driver’s beer,” a way to drink and still be able to drive.

Soon, beer companies were advertising non-alcoholic beer to health-conscious consumers, trying to associate it with sports.

This troubled Dr. Johannes Scherr, the doctor for the German Olympic ski team. Nearly all his athletes were drinking non-alcoholic beer during training. He did some research to find out whether this was something he wanted to support.

Related: Can a beer a day keep the doctor away?

In a double-blind study, he gave runners in the 2009 Munich Marathon non-alcoholic beer every day for three weeks before and two weeks after the race.

After the race, these runners suffered significantly less inflammation and fewer upper respiratory infections than those who had been given a placebo. They also appeared to recover more quickly.

Improved cardiovascular health

Dr. Scherr was actually building on research that had been done a few years prior to his.

In 2004, Danish researchers had uncovered information about non-alcoholic beer that could potentially save lives.

Steffen Bassus, lead author of the Danish study, looked at moderate alcohol consumption, already shown to prevent cardiovascular disease. He wondered if non-alcoholic beer might have the same effect.

When twelve healthy young men consumed three liters of either regular beer, non-alcoholic beer or water during a three-hour period, all three groups showed reduced blood coagulation.

Related: The healthy hops habit that blasts fat

This proved that, contrary to previous thought, the ethanol (alcohol) content in beer was not the deciding factor in achieving this result.

Furthermore, Bassus found that, of the three beverages, only the non-alcoholic beer resulted in reduced production of thrombin, the agent that causes blood clots that often lead to arterial blockage and stroke.

Beer for better sleep

Having a beer or two with friends before turning in might help you get to sleep. However, chances are good that you’ll wake up a few hours later, have trouble going back to sleep and wake up feeling groggy.

A non-alcoholic beer will let you enjoy socializing over a nightcap, while actually helping you sleep better. Spanish researchers found non-alcoholic beer superior in aiding sleep than either milk or other non-alcoholic drinks.

Related: How to reduce meat’s cancer threat with beer

Using actigraphy, a wrist sensor that detects movement during sleep cycles, they found that subjects fell asleep about 12 percent faster and moved about 27 percent less during sleep after drinking non-alcoholic beer at dinner (around 10 p.m. in Spain).

Non-alcoholic beer is rich in hop compounds that give beer its pleasant aroma. These compounds increase levels of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which soothes the central nervous system.

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The best of both worlds

Beer isn’t to everyone’s liking, and those with a gluten intolerance should steer clear. But if you’re looking to enjoy the flavor of beer without the alcohol, calories, and hangover, try the non-alcoholic version.

There are many options, from major brands to lesser-known specialty and craft beers. Besides avoiding the alcohol content and calories of regular beer, you’ll be actively improving your respiratory and heart health, and getting a better night’s sleep.

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Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.