Here's some bittersweet news from the world of beer. In the largest-ever study of its kind, research scientists have shown that the consumption of wheat beer has a positive effect on athletes' health, with one caveat: the study was conducted using non-alcoholic beer as the test beverage — a not-so-minor technicality decried by beer-enthusiasts the world over as "totally lame."
You may recall this study, conducted back in 2007, which revealed that the carbohydrates, ions, and carbonation in beer may help people absorb fluids more efficiently after a workout than water alone. The current study, dubbed "Be-MaGIC" (beer, marathons, genetics, inflammation and the cardiovascular system), suggests that the benefits of beer may extend beyond improved hydration.
The study, which will be published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, investigated the potentially positive effects of polyphenols – aromatic compounds found in beer and widely credited with health-promoting and cancer preventative properties.
Some of the benefits found to be conferred by beer include: reduced post-workout inflammatory reaction; increased support for the immune system; and even prevention of the common cold. "Drinking the non-alcoholic test beverage reduces your risk of developing a cold by one third" said Dr. Johannes Scherr, who directed the study and also serves as physician to the German National Ski Team.
"The potential for foods containing polyphenols to have a positive effect on athletes' health has already been suggested in several articles," explains Scherr. "Nevertheless we were ourselves sometimes surprised at how clearly evident this was in the results. We now have scientific confirmation of those assumptions for this test beverage, with its particular combination of polyphenols, vitamins and minerals."
Perhaps good news for some, but I, for one, will be busy conducting more...thorough...experiments of my own. If anyone needs me, I'll be
at the bar in my lab.