Scientists at the New University of Lisbon in Portugal have shown that beer can have a beneficial effect on the gut microbiome, reducing the risk of intestinal disease. At the same time, the authors of a pilot study (with a small number of participants), who published the results in the ACS Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, recommend drinking non-alcoholic beer, since alcohol, even in small doses, is harmful to the body.
The double-blind, controlled trial involved 22 healthy men divided into two groups, in one of which the participants drank 11 ounces, or 330 milliliters, of lager (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) with dinner for four weeks. During the study, the researchers tracked health indicators such as weight, body mass index, and biochemical markers of heart and metabolic health. The gut microbiota was analyzed by sequencing the 16S rRNA gene involved in ribosome assembly in prokaryotic organisms.
Although health indicators did not change, both groups showed an increase in bacterial diversity in the gut and a high level of fecal alkaline phosphatase, which indicated an improvement in the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract.
A previous cross-sectional study demonstrated that drinking non-alcoholic lager beer by men and women for 30 days led to an increase in gut microbiome diversity. However, no such effect was observed in the case of an alcoholic beverage.
The authors suggest that the results of both studies differ due to different study designs. According to their findings, drinking a single bottle of beer, regardless of its alcohol content, may be beneficial for the gut microbiome and gut health in men. This effect is mediated not by the alcohol itself, which is harmful even in small amounts, but by the polyphenols contained in the beer, so non-alcoholic beer is the best option.