It’s clear that alcohol is not a necessity for health. However, a great deal of research shows that moderate alcohol consumption has its benefits. We all know about the pros and cons, and today’s article is not about sorting through them. The reality is that for many of us, being able to enjoy a glass of wine, beer or a cocktail once in a while is part of a healthy lifestyle and social life.
Men Should Drink Wine
Alcohol in general, especially when it is abused, increases estrogen levels and decreases testosterone: two negatives for men. But beyond that, we have to look at a particular substance found in beer: hops.
Hops are the female flowers of the hop plant. When beer is made, hops are used to impart the bitter flavor, which is essential to beer’s good taste.
Centuries ago, people noticed that young women who worked in the fields harvesting hops had their menses earlier than normal. At the same times, male brewers who handled hops suffered from the “brewer’s droop,” a sort of sexual dysfunction caused by being exposed to high levels of phytoestrogens. Hops also has a sedative effect, and in fact hops pickers would often fall asleep while working.
Hops contain a substance called 8-prenylnaringenin which acts as a phytoestrogen, mimicking the effects of natural estrogen in the body. Being sedative, hops may actually help with insomnia. But for a male, the combination of “sedation” and “high levels of estrogen” are deadly, leading to low sex drive, lower energy, man boobs, and abdominal fat. The liquid calories in beer also contribute to the much feared “beer belly.”
Beer used to be made without hops. Instead, a variety of herbs were used to impart the bitter flavor. In 1516, the Beer Purity Act was enacted in Germany to insure’s beer’s purity, stating that all beer had to be made with hops. Some people see a conspiracy in this, fomented by the protestants at the time, who were thrilled to see that beer made men sleepy, less aggressive, more feminine, and lowered their sex drive. All good things for the protestants at the time.
Women Should Drink Beer
While hops in beer will have a negative impact on men’s hormonal balance, it may actually be positive for women. Hops has aphrodisiac-like qualities for women, as because of the phytoestrogen it contains, which mimic natural estrogen. Low sex drive in women is often cause by low levels of estrogen.
Consuming beer, especially hop-rich varieties like IPA, could actually help restore hormonal balance and help with libido and also alleviate menopausal symptoms of fatigue, irritability and hot flashes.Of course, hops can be taken directly as an herb as an infusion, but isn’t it more fun to drink a beer instead?
While not 100% backed by science (although some studies corroborates these findings: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh22-3/220.pdf), there’s enough evidence out there to make us think twice before picking up our favorite drink of choice.
Having taken a few classes about wine, I enjoy the role of wine in cuisine and to me it’s the perfect beverage to have with good friends and good food, when you want to enjoy a civilized dinner that pleases all senses. But like most men, I love beer!
Moderate alcohol consumption has some positives and negatives, although abstinence is the smartest choice for many. If you’re going to drink alcohol socially, why not try something different?
Women, feel free to enjoy a hops-rich beer like an IPA, a pleasure that may impart some health benefits.
Men may be better advised to drink a glass of wine…
Question of the day: do you drink socially and what’s your beverage of choice?