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Why You May Want To Consider Nonalcoholic Beer For Some Surprising Health Perks!

Updated: Sep 2, 2020

Since I started drinking beer, I loved it. I was always a big IPA fan, and red wine? <3 After a big car accident, and 4 months in the hospital, and minus 1 kidney, I was told I should no longer consume alcohol. When I called the doctor after leaving the hospital, I asked if I could occasionally consume alcohol for special events, celebrations, and things like these. The doctor responded by asking, "do you want to live?", I answered, "yes" and the doctor responded with, "then don't drink any alcohol." Flat out.

This wasn't an easy transition for me. I knew socializing, having fun, and confidence to always be accompanied by alcohol, like it helped me be "me". I miss red wine with a friend or just after a long, rough day. Or drinking a cold beer on a hot day.However, becoming sober lets me wake up feeling more mentally clear and with more energy to be ready for the day to come. Before becoming sober, I had, for a long time, suffered from "chronic depression". Maybe it's the feeling of a clearer mind, but taking alcohol out of my life seems to let me shed much needed positivity on my own life.

After conquering this new (prescribed) life goal, I can honestly say I feel better about myself, and proud, having been able to tackle something so difficult to give up. Although I still get pressure from friends, I no longer crave alcohol after a hard day.

Now, I have never tried nonalcoholic beer (I had heard years ago that it doesn't taste great), I have heard since that there are a lot more options and the taste is pretty darn good! When I saw an article about the health benefits related to nonalcoholic beer, I was excited and thinking, maybe I should give it a try --- "the alt-drink is steadily rising in popularity and proving to be much more than a trend. The explanation for this explosion of interest? It could be a new delicious option for the 30% of Americans who don't drink or the number of health-conscious drinkers who have embraced nonalcoholic craft beer"

In his mbg article Richie Crowley writes:

Whatever the true catalyst, there has certainly been an increase in the public appeal of nonalcoholic beer in recent years. Before we dive into the potential health-promoting perks of this beverage, let's take a look at some recent history of these popular brews.

A little background on nonalcoholic beer.

For decades the only alternative options were flavorless beers for the nondrinker. No one had a clue that nonalcoholic beer could taste good, and certainly not that it was good for you.

In 1973, German beer companies originally marketed nonalcoholic beer as the "car driver's beer," and more recently European nonalcoholic brands are leading with the performance-enhancing properties of their brews.

Heineken's 0.0 promotes that "there is no limit to what the human body can achieve," and Bavarian brewery Erdinger has adopted the motto "100% Performance. 100% Regeneration." Domestically, leading nonalcoholic brewery Athletic Brewing Company uses the phrase "Beer for the modern adult" stamping "Brewed Without Compromise" on every can.

Despite the accessibility of information today, when Athletic launched in 2017, most Americans weren't well-versed in health-promoting properties of nonalcoholic beer. But in Germany, Erdinger handed out more than 30,000 bottles at the 2017 Berlin Marathon. Then in 2018, athletes on the

German Olympic teams consumed nonalcoholic beer, in efforts to reduce post-exercise inflammation, reports the New York Times.

More recently, the USA Triathlon became the first U.S. national governing body in the Olympic and Paralympic camp to team up with a nonalcoholic beer producer, Athletic Brewing Company. In June 2020, USA Triathlon chief marketing officer Chuck Menke said in a news release, "Nonalcoholic beer is an ideal option for endurance athletes" and "USAT can't wait to ultimately introduce them to the wider multisport community."

The benefits of nonalcoholic beer.

To better understand why athletes jumped on the nonalcoholic beer bandwagon, along with its rise in popularity among health-conscious consumers, it's important to understand the potential benefits of this alt-beverage:

1. Nonalcoholic beer may enhance athletic performance and reduce inflammation.

A 2012 study paid for by beer brewery Erdinger Weissbraeu, set out to better understand the relationship between nonalcoholic beer and inflammation. This research was the first to indicate that consuming 1 to 1.5 liters of nonalcoholic beer with polyphenols for three weeks before a marathon reduced inflammation in athletes after the race.

The same study also found that ingesting nonalcoholic beer with polyphenols decreased upper respiratory tract infection rates in athletes during the two-week period after the race. The reason? Researchers believe it has to do with the presence of phenols in nonalcoholic beer, which are immune-supporting chemicals that come from the plants beer is brewed with.

Phenol-rich diets "tend to lower inflammation and have a unique molecular structure that can actually regulate the genes that control inflammation," says David Nieman, DrPH, FACSM, a biology professor at Appalachian State University.

Nonalcoholic beer isn't beneficial for only athletes, though. The same 2012 study found that polyphenol-rich beverages may reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Not to mention, a 2016 study found that the more a person drinks, the greater their risk of developing cancer, especially head and neck cancers. In June 2020, for the first time in 20 years, the American Cancer Society updated its guidelines to remove alcohol consumption in any moderation. It's important to acknowledge that all beer (alcoholic or otherwise) does have similar health properties, but alcohol can negate the positive effect.

2. It may also help promote hydration.

Drinking enough water each day is crucial for your health—it supports energy, immunity, mood, cognition, and organ function.

Beer with alcohol is a diuretic, which increases the flow of urine to promote the removal of excess water, salts, poisons, and accumulated metabolic products from the body—which may also accelerate dehydration. Nonalcoholic beer, however, is not a diuretic.

One 2016 study in Nutrients evaluated the effects of three beverages for pre-exercise hydration. The results suggested that drinking 0.7 liters of nonalcoholic beer before exercise could help maintain blood electrolyte homeostasis during exercise.

What's more, unlike many sports drinks, which have high sugar content, nonalcoholic beer often has zero sugar.

3. Its plant-based ingredients may support better health.

Nonalcoholic beer's plant-based ingredients may have a few health-promoting properties.  Due to its hops components, moderate consumption of nonalcoholic beer may promote better rest, according to a 2012 study.

Another ingredient in beer, barley, is rich in vitamins and minerals. Plus, it contains inulin, a prebiotic fiber that helps feed healthy gut bacteria. The beta-glucans found in barley may also lower cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease.

4. Nonalcoholic beer is a healthy option for anyone who doesn't drink.

Richie Crowley, an author with MindBodyGreen and former pro-athlete, shares that he first heard Andy Ramage, founder of OYNB and TEDx presenter, on the Rich Roll Podcast in 2019 share his journey from pro footballer to alcohol-free adult. "I drink alcohol-free beer way more regularly than I ever drank alcoholic beer," Ramage said. "The alcohol-free beers are much nicer, and they don't take away your time, energy, and momentum in life."

The bottom line: Nonalcoholic beer can be a great option for anyone and may boast a number of health benefits.

Want to learn more? Check out Upstream Brewing's blog to read about more about the benefits of drinking nonalcoholic beer.

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