By Kurtis Bright
Pop on Hops: Beer Drinkers May Have Some Protection From Liver Disease
If you’re one of those people who has difficulty deciding what to order at a busy bar with a mob of people waiting behind you, two things:
One, stop it. Make up your damn mind before you engage the bartender. There are thirsty, decisive people waiting behind you.
Second, you might consider a nice India Pale Ale or another hoppy beer--for the sake of your liver.
Although the hoppier beers are a bit advanced for beginners--they have a bit of a bite, a bitter flavor that is interesting but not overwhelming, when done right--a new study has shown that hops might be just the thing for your health.
According to the study, it may well be that the hops in these types of beers are useful in protecting the liver from damage. The mechanism behind this phenomena seems to be that the hops help protect the liver against the buildup of hepatic fat, a process which normally leads to fatty liver disease and is also a precursor to cirrhosis and other liver disease.
A mystery that has puzzled doctors and other researchers for years is the observable fact that liver disease seems to strike more people who drink heavily of hard liquors and wine, but not so much those who prefer beer. This study may go a long way toward explaining it.
The researchers looked at three groups of very lucky mice and fed them either regular beer, beer without hops, or pure ethanol.
The team then examined the livers of the mice twelve hours later (okay, so maybe they weren’t so lucky after all, but at least they died happy.) What they discovered was that the mice who had consumed either hopless beer or ethanol had similar levels of liver fat, whereas the ones who got regular beer had significantly lower levels.
Published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism, the researchers’ findings conclude that hops are the key to protecting the liver against he build-up of fat, which also explains how heavy beer drinkers on average have fewer health problems related to the liver than those who are addicted to other alcoholic beverages.
Another interesting tidbit that emerged from the research was that the mice who drank regular beer had less damage from what is called oxidative stress, which indicates a connection to the hops, although they do not yet have a specific understanding of how this works.
Clearly further study is called for. Perhaps some close studies involving a pint or two on the weekend are in order.