Philly Beer Week: Good for Your Health?
Sure, we’ve been called the fattest city (we know that rap all too well). But recently, Philly was also named Best Beer City – an award we will accept a lot more willingly. As Philly Beer Week approaches (June 4-13), I’ll take a shot an explaining why and how beer can be part of a healthy diet. As if you needed your arm twisted, right?
Now, before I get started, let me just preface the following information with this: Of course, I am not condoning the massive amounts of consumption that take place at frat parties or tailgates across the city; nor am I suggesting you start drinking if you don’t currently; and finally, this is certainly a matter of quality, so cheap beers chock full of extra sugar and additives are not part of the discussion.
So, here’s the story. At its best, beer is normally made from a few simple ingredients: water, malted barley, hops, and yeast. Just like when it comes to food, the less ingredients on the label, the better. Unfiltered beer can be even more beneficial, as it does not lose the ample supply of B vitamins often found in yeast. These vitamins help to calm the nervous system (Hello! Anyone ever reach for a beer when they were stressed?). In November of 1999, The New England Journal of Medicine stated that light to moderate beer drinkers decrease their chances of suffering a stroke by 20 percent. Interestingly enough, it has been reported that beer has just as many polyphenols (antioxidants) as red wine, and up to three times more than white wine. That’s huge news when it comes to heart disease.
Beer is also a major contributor to silicon in the diet, a nutrient that helps minerals and calcium deposit in bone tissue, thus preventing osteoporosis. Adults over age 65 who drank one to six alcoholic beverages over the course of the week turned out to have a lower risk of dementia than non-drinkers or heavier drinkers, according to a 2003 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. And since stress and sleep go hand in hand, the relaxing effect of beer has also been proven to improve sleep.
But let’s switch focus for a minute. Something that is even more interesting, at least to me, is the emerging craft beer culture and its union with the local food scene. Local breweries are popping up everywhere. Chefs and restaurants all over the city and the suburbs are all promoting the use of local food ingredients, as well as local beers. Hipsters and suits alike are embracing the local scene. The Whole Foods Plymouth Meeting location has a pub attached to the grocery store, specializing in local and craft brews. And the clientele is eating (or should we say drinking) it up.
Me? I am lucky enough to live with one of my sisters, Joanna, who happens to be a ranked beer judge. When she starting making and bottling her own beer, I was thrilled. It went perfectly with my CSA-food-pick-up, yoga-teacher, hippy-healthy-happy organic image! I’ll be following her around Beer Week and reporting back to you on the cool health info I pick along the way.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “‘Beer, if drank in moderation, softens the temper, cheers the spirit, and promotes health.’ Cheers to that!
Maura Manzo is the Managing Director of RYAH Yoga and Health in Conshohocken. She is also a certified health coach and yoga teacher. To learn more about her classes and workshops, visit mauramanzo.com or ryahyoga.com. Read her full bio here.