The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 18 No. 1 • April 2015


Here’s To Your Health With Beer, the Drink Recommended by Benjamin Franklin!

New and very convincing evidence for the health benefits of moderate drinking of beer appears in a recent paper.1 Read it just before you take that nice cold one out of your refrigerator and feel the goodness as it passes into your gastrointestinal tract in the service of your health. Have another cold one if you like. Then have a nice day!

If you recall, Benjamin Franklin was the Founder who expressed a wish to have his body preserved in a vat of wine for later revival to see how the U.S. fared. Perhaps, had he known the results of this study, he might have considered being preserved in a vat of beer.

In this study,1 researchers investigated whether moderate drinking of beer would provide protection against coronary artery disease. The lucky (well, not so lucky because they had induced heart attacks and were later “sacrificed” for the purpose of examining their heart and other organs) participants were 30 month old commercial female pigs weighing about 35 kg, who were randomly distributed to receive during 10 days, a Western hypercholesterolemic diet, same diet + low beer intake (12.5 g alcohol/day; about 1 bottle/day), same diet plus moderate beer intake (25 g alcohol/day; about 2 bottles/day) or the same diet + alcohol-free moderate beer intake (same amount of beer as the moderate beer intake but without alcohol). All groups contained 7 pigs except for the group receiving only the Western hypercholesterolemic diet (no beer), which contained 9 pigs. This is a particularly interesting study for the use of pigs as subjects. Pigs have a gastrointestinal tract very much like humans (both are omnivores) but are not usually used as subjects in nutritional studies because pigs cost a lot more than rats or mice do. The pigs received their beer split into two portions, taken in the morning and in the evening with their chow.

All the animals were, after ten days on the diet plus beer, subject to a process whereby, under anesthesia, they had a heart attack induced by 90 minutes of total balloon occlusion of the mid-left anterior descending coronary artery. Then, 21 days after this induced heart attack, the animals were all killed for examination.

RESULTS: First, there were no deaths among the pigs receiving beer, while two control animals died from refractory ventricular fibrillation during the induction of the heart attack.

2. ARRYTHMIA  —  Animals required cardioversion after the induced heart attack to control arrhythmia. Cardioversion was required in 6 out of 7 survivors of the control Western diet group, 5 out of 7 of the diet + alcohol-free moderate beer, 2 out of 7 in the diet + low beer intake, and 1 out of 7 in the diet + moderate beer intake group.

3. REDUCED SCAR FORMATION  —  The scar size was significantly lower (about 50% less) in the alcohol-beer fed animals as compared to the Western diet only control group. There was a trend toward reduction in the animals receiving alcohol free moderate beer, which did not reach significance.

4. GENETIC CHANGES  —  All beer-fed animals were reported to have an almost twofold increase of Sirt-1 gene expression (reflecting a protective effect against cell death) and a six-fold decrease in active caspase-3 (reflecting reduced cellular apoptosis) in the ischemic cardiac region.

5. CHANGES IN COLLAGEN DEPOSITION IN SCAR TISSUE  —  Matrix metalloprotease 9 (MMP9) activity was fourfold decreased in the beer-fed animals. This reflects a favorable change in the deposition of collagen in scar tissue, with a reparative level induced but excessive fibrosis reduced by the lower level of MMP9.

6. IMPROVEMENT OF HEART PERFORMANCE  —  “... both intergroup and intra-animal analysis revealed a significant improvement in global cardiac performance (LVEF) in beer-fed animals as compared to HC [Westernized hypercholesterolemic diet] controls.1

7. INCREASED HDL ANTIOXIDANT CAPACITY  —  Beer intake improved HDL antioxidant potential and, in fact, the HDL from beer-fed animals continued to have protective activity against LDL oxidation. The same authors reported observing that moderate (25 g alcohol/day) and regular beer intake for 31 days was associated with an increase in HDL plasma levels.

8. BEER-INDUCED ACTIVATION OF CARDIAC AMPK AND ITS DOWNSTREAM EFFECTOR eNOS —  The researchers suggested that these effects, also observed in the pig beer study1 may have contributed to the protection seen in the infarcted myocardium.

These are very impressive results. It is nice to know that that nice cold beer waiting for you at home in your refrigerator supplies you with such a terrific package of benefits for your health. (The subjects in this study were female pigs; we would expect similar but not necessarily exactly the same beneficial effects in male pigs. We would also expect similar benefits in humans.)

Reference

  1. Vilahur, Casani, et al. Intake of fermented beverages protect against acute myocardial injury: target organ cardiac effects and vasculoprotective effects. Basic Res Cardiol. 107:291 (2012).

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