The beer contains hops, which may have a positive effect on health. © Givaga/ iStock.com
Cheers to health: two ingredients found in beer could turn out to be real medicine. Researchers report that the hop components xanthohumol and iso-alpha acids appear to have numerous health-promoting properties. According to this, they act, for example, against inflammation and obesity. How great the potential of these beer ingredients really is, however, remains to be seen in further studies.
As an alcoholic beverage, beer should only be consumed in moderation – and is no good as medicine. Nevertheless, the hop drink is always said to have health-promoting properties. For example, it is said to have a mood-lifting effect, protect against heart attacks and even have rejuvenating effects, at least on yeast cells.
But which ingredients in beer are responsible for such positive effects? Scientists led by Claus Hellerbrand of the Friedrich Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg have now taken a closer look at two components: the polyphenol xanthohumol and the bitter iso-alpha acids, both of which are found in hops.
Particularly good in combination
Their research showed that xanthohumol can prevent fatty liver caused by obesity and malnutrition and prevent scarring of liver tie. In addition, the substance seems to kill cancer cells in the liver. In addition, it can also counteract weight gain, as the researchers report. They also found evidence of healthy effects in iso-alpha acids. Accordingly, these acids inhibit liver damage and positively influence fat and sugar metabolism.
According to the preliminary results, both substances seem to have a particularly positive effect when used in combination. Together, for example, they inhibit inflammatory processes even more effectively. According to the study, even very low concentrations significantly slow down the production of inflammatory factors in liver and blood cells, as Hellerbrand and his team report.
Further research needed
Further studies must now show which molecular mechanisms underlie these effects – and to what extent the beer ingredients could actually be suitable for combating disease patterns such as obesity, diabetes and cancer. If the positive effects are confirmed, there will be another reason for beer lovers to have a glass regularly in the future – but in the non-alcoholic variety, as the scientists emphasize.
"It is conceivable that a positive effect can be achieved by consuming non-alcoholic beer or other hop-containing foods and beverages such as hop lemonade or hop tea. Xanthohumol and iso-alpha acids seem to be very promising for the treatment or prevention of liver damage caused by obesity," says Hellerbrand. The biochemist concludes that there may be a grain of truth in the Italian proverb "He who drinks beer lives a hundred years.