Non-alcoholic beer: the gut microbiota just loves it!

A Mexican study compared the effects of beer consumption–with or without alcohol–on the bacteria of our intestinal flora. The conclusion was unambiguous: raise your glass to sobriety, it is way better than amber nectar!

 

Although alcohol abuse is detrimental to health, the discussion regarding the impact of moderate consumption is still ongoing, as well as the negative impact of alcohol on the oral flora, according to recent works*. In a new study, Mexican researchers tested the effects of beer (with and without alcohol) on the gut microbiota.

A beer at lunch to keep the doctor away?

For a month, around thirty volunteers were told to drink one 335-ml non-alcoholic beer (0.5º) at lunch, without changing any other dietary habit. Five months later, they had to follow the same protocol but with a classic beer (4.9º). On Days 1, 15 and 30 of the experiment, samples of blood and stool were collected and a series of body measurements (hip circumference, body mass index, blood pressure...).

Non-alcoholic beer provides more benefits

Bad news for hop lovers, but maybe also some good news... On the plus side, both types of beer led to a strong increase in the proportion of Bacteroidetes and decrease in species from the Firmicutes phylum; and such a ratio is also found in healthy people. However, the match between non-alcoholic beer and alcoholic beer turned in favor of the former: no weight gain, no increase in hip or waist circumference, no change in liver enzymes or blood lipids, and even decrease in blood sugar levels coupled with a better insulin resistance. But let’s be fair play: all these parameters remained within the normal range for drinkers of “true” beer.

A new superfood?

At the intestinal level, non-alcoholic beer also has the upper hand: the bacterial flora is more diversified and with a higher content in beneficial bacteria such as lactobacilli (barrier against obesity and insulin resistance in mice), Streptococcus (promoting the regulation of immune reaction), and other types of bacteria associated with weight loss in humans. One month after the beginning of the experiment, non-alcoholic beer also tripled the amount of bacteria capable of producing polyphenols–already present in beer (with or without alcohol)–and phenolic acids such as resveratrol, which are potentially beneficial components against cancer, diabetes or even neurodegenerative diseases. A convincing argument in support of happy sobriety.

 

Sources: 

Hernández-Quiroz F, Nirmalkar K, Villalobos-Flores LE et al. Influence of moderate beer consumption on human gut microbiota and its impact on fasting glucose and β-cell function. Alcoho.2019; doi: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2019.05.006

*https://www.biocodexmicrobiotainstitute.com/en/publications/alcohol-your-oral-microbiota-takes-hit