Brewers highlight health benefits of beer

In a bid to correct the growing negative perception some may have about beer, brewers within and outside the country are rallying together in a sensitizing campaign to correct the notion that beer is bad for ones health.

Beer makers are concerned that if the negative views held by some about beer  are not countered, it would have an adverse effect on the industry.

Brewers say that widely held beliefs that beer gives pot belly, is made from chemicals, is bad for the heart, bad for the aged, impairs judgement and causes accidents among others, are wrong and have been dispelled by science.

As part of the sensitizing campaign, Nigerian Breweries Plc recently organized a media tour of one of its plants and held a seminar on the subject.

Speaking at the seminar, the Senior Strategy Manager, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Mr. Tony Agenmonmen, said that many positive things have been said about beer just as there have been many misconceptions and negative campaigns.

He added that reputation matters and how people view the role of beer in society and the role of brewers matter to the long term sustainability of the industry.

He noted that beer had been scientifically proven to be better for the heart than red wine.

Addressing the wide held belief that beer drinking makes one gain weight, he cited an article that was published in the UK Telegraph Newspaper in 1995, which said, “Interestingly, scientists have found that moderate drinkers, who drink regularly but only in small amounts had lower body weights than their non-drinking peers and those who drank a lot at once (bing drinkers).”

He said calories were responsible for weight gain and belly fat and not beer which have 90 percent water.

Agenmonmen referred to a research published by the US Department of Agriculture, where it was observed that table wine contained 77 calories per serving, spirits held 250 calories, apple juice had 47 calories. Beer, interestingly, contained less calories than all of them with 41 calories per serving.

A Professor of Human Nutrition at the University of Ibadan, Professor Tola Atinmo, supported Agenmonmen’s claims, stating that the ingredients used in making beer (yeast, barley, hops and water) were natural and good for the body.

He added that “Hops is better and good for the liver and kidney, yeast is good for the eye, barley provides energy for the body, while water is naturally recommended for the body.”

Atinmo further cited a 1994 research from the US Human Nutrition Research Centre. He explained that consuming moderate amounts of alcohol did not contribute to weight gain or excess body fat. Rather, alcohol might help the body to regulate appetite.

He added “Direct studies in which alcohol was ‘control fed’ to humans showed that, under normal living conditions, moderate alcohol consumption ( e.g. 60 – 75 g alcohol per day, which is equivalent to approximately two litres of average strength beer daily) had no measurable impact on energy balance and body weight over a period of approximately one month.

“Beer is essentially fat free. It is largely water, and most beers contain very few insoluble solids.”

He said that although beer contained some protein, the levels were much lower than in many other food items.

“Beer contains the essential amino acids, at levels of the order of 5 – 10 mg per 100g, he said, noting that beer was preferable to other beverages because it contained water soluble vitamins like folate, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine and niacin.

Atino added, “As much as 10 percent of daily intake of folate might come from beer in some countries. The fat soluble vitamins do not survive in beer and are lost with insoluble components in processing. “Some beers contain vitamin C, because the vitamin is added to protect the beer from oxidation. Beer is rich in magnesium and potassium, but relatively deficient in iron, zinc and calcium.”

He concluded by saying, when taken in moderation, beer provided anti-oxidants, selenium, fibre and other essential nutrients that the human body needs.

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