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Beer is great for your gut and might be better than probiotics

In a new study from Dalian Medical University in China, researchers have found that beer could actually be beneficial to your gut health and, surprisingly, might even be better than probiotics. 

This is a revelation that contradicts the commonly held belief that beer is purely an indulgence and has no real health benefits.

History of beer consumption 

“Beer, also known as ‘liquid bread,’ is the oldest alcoholic beverage in human history, recorded by the Babylonians as early as 6,000 BC using clay tablets,” wrote the study authors. 

“At the same time, beer is the most widely produced and consumed beverage globally. It is second only to water and tea in terms of total consumption. Archeological research has found evidence of beer consumption in China dating back as far as 9,000 years.”

Beer bacteria and your gut

The researchers reviewed the interactions and mechanisms between beer and the gut microbiome in regulating body immunity.

The research suggests that the bacteria present in beer helps to improve your intestines and immune system. 

“Beer is rich in many essential amino acids, vitamins, trace elements, and bioactive substances that are involved in the regulation of many human physiological functions,” the authors noted. 

“When beer is consumed in moderation, the phenols and other nutrients it contains are fermented and broken down by the microbial community that resides in the outer mucosal layer of the gut. In healthy non-smokers, beer acutely improves parameters of arterial function and structure.”

Positive health effects of beer

Furthermore, the study highlights the potential of beer as a microecological modulator due to its positive effects on cancer prevention, reduction of cardiovascular events, and modulation of metabolic syndrome.

Previous studies have suggested that beer bacteria can prevent heart disease and improve blood circulation. An experiment involving beer-drinking runners corroborated this in the current study. They experienced a reduced risk of upper respiratory tract disease.

“It has been reported that beer consumption has a regulatory effect on various physiological functions of the human body. Moderate consumption of beer helps in preventing arteriosclerosis and heart disease, inhibits cancer, and improves blood circulation and immune function,” wrote the researchers.

“Beer has also been shown to have antioxidant and anti-aging effects, promote estrogen production, reduce radiation damage, and help prevent cardiovascular events.”

Study’s implications for beer and gut health

While this news might be a reason for celebration for beer lovers around the world, it is important to note that moderation is key. The study associates the positive effects with moderate consumption of beer. Excessive drinking can lead to adverse health effects. 

“Low or non-alcoholic beers are good candidates for functional foods. Health beers made by fortifying them with bioactive substances such as fiber, antioxidants, and probiotics would provide health benefits to consumers,” wrote the researchers.

“Whether beer can be used in the future as a micro-ecological regulator or even as an alternative therapy for chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity is a question that deserves further research.”

More about gut health

Gut health is crucial for the overall well-being of an individual. It refers to the balance and function of the microorganisms present in the digestive tract. 


Your gut is home to trillions of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi, collectively known as the gut microbiota. These microorganisms play a vital role in digesting food, producing vitamins, and protecting against harmful pathogens.


Proper gut health ensures effective digestion and absorption of nutrients from the food we eat. The gut microbiota helps break down complex carbohydrates and proteins that the body cannot digest on its own.

Immune system

About 70% of the immune system is located in the gut. A healthy gut microbiota helps regulate the immune response and protect against harmful pathogens.

Brain-gut connection

The gut-brain axis closely connects the gut and brain. This is a bidirectional communication system that includes the central nervous system, enteric nervous system, and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. This connection influences not only gastrointestinal function but also mood and behavior.


Dysbiosis, an imbalance in the gut microbiota, associates with various health problems. These include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), obesity, diabetes, and even mental health issues like anxiety and depression.


Diet plays a crucial role in maintaining gut health. A diet rich in fiber, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and fermented foods help to promote a healthy gut microbiome. 

More about the health benefits of beer

Beer, one of the world’s oldest and most widely consumed alcoholic beverages, has, over the years, become the subject of numerous health studies. While excessive consumption can lead to negative effects, moderate beer drinking might offer some surprising health benefits.

Heart health

Cardiologists have found that moderate beer consumption can increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), commonly known as the “good” cholesterol. This can help reduce the risk of heart diseases. Furthermore, beer contains certain antioxidants, like polyphenols, that protect the heart.

Bone density

Beer is a significant source of dietary silicon, which links to bone health. Silicon aids in the growth and development of bones and connective tissues. Some research suggests that moderate beer consumption can improve bone density, particularly in postmenopausal women.

Reduced risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Epidemiological studies have observed that moderate beer drinkers might have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to heavy drinkers or non-drinkers. The exact mechanisms remain a topic of research, but it underscores beer’s potential role in metabolic health.

Beer and your microbiome

Beer, being a fermented beverage, contains dietary fiber and certain probiotics. As mentioned previously in this article, these components support gut health by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria. A balanced gut microbiome aids in digestion and strengthens the immune system.

Mental health benefits

Moderate beer consumption may also have cognitive benefits. Some studies associate it with a reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Beer contains compounds like xanthohumol, which has neuroprotective properties.

Protection against kidney stones

Some research indicates that beer, when consumed in moderation, can lower the risk of developing kidney stones. The diuretic effect of beer and its high water content might contribute to this protective benefit.

Rich in B vitamins

Beer acts as a natural source of several B vitamins, including B6, riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), and folate. These vitamins play crucial roles in metabolism and overall cellular function.

In summary, while beer offers several health benefits, moderation remains the key. Overconsumption can lead to weight gain, liver problems, and other health issues.

It’s essential to consult with healthcare professionals about alcohol consumption, especially if one has existing health concerns or is on medication. For those who can enjoy it safely, raising a glass to beer’s health benefits might be in order.

Click below to read the full study from Dalian Medical University lead authors Silu Zhang, Shuo Jin, Cui Zhang, Shumin Hu, and Huajun Li: Beer-gut microbiome alliance: a discussion of beer-mediated immunomodulation via the gut microbiome

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