Beer is one of the most widely consumed as well as the oldest known alcoholic beverage in the world.
Beer is prepared from a mixture of malted, rice, maize and wheat mixed in certain proportions.
When the fermentation of the sugar content of the same mixture is carried out, it produces ethanol and the carbon dioxide which results in the formation of beer.
It is extremely interesting to know here that one of the first mentions of beer in ancient history was found in the Code of Hammurabi where in laws regarding beer and beer parlors were put forth.
The Mesopotamian era also worshiped Ninkasi who was revered and worshiped as the Goddess of beer!
Egyptian sculptures of women and local folk preparing beer have also been excavated thus suggesting that beer was widely and commonly prepared and consumed even during that era.
Biochemically, the beers may be different in regards their nutritional value and may differ depending on the contents used to produce it.
A few nutrient components that are commonly found in beer are namely selenium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, chromium and the vitamin B group.
Owing to these nutritional properties, beer is also referred to as brewer’s yeast!
Beer also contains good proportions of phenolic acids such as vanillic acid, ferulic acid, sinapic acid and caffeic acid to name a few.
Barley also enriches the beer with tanins, phenyl ethanol, tryptophol and tyrosol.
Beer is now widely produced and is also consumed around many parts of the world.
Different countries use different proportions of a variety of ingredients to prepare a whole range of beers that are available for consumption.
Being an alcoholic beverage, the consumption of beer has its short term and long term side effects on the body, we shall now discuss the same in detail.
Short term effects
The immediate short term effects of beer are primarily seen due to the ethyl alcohol content in it and are the same as seen when beverages such as wine and whiskey are consumed.
These are mostly physiological and psychological in nature and may range from simple delusions to hallucinations to severe headaches, nausea and vomits.
The headache or heavy headedness continues to carry on till the next day in extremely severe cases and is commonly referred to as a hangover.
The onset and duration of the effect of the alcohol majorly depends on the quantity to which the same has been consumed and also the amount of food that has been consumed along with the alcohol.
Certain over the counter drugs as well as the anti depressant group of drugs react strongly with alcohol and may cause pronounced symptoms at the level of the mind.
Mental symptoms initially include a sense of happiness or euphoria and the patient seems excessively happy and excited. This is also accompanied by physical symptoms where in the face is flushed and turns red. There may also be excessive perspiration in some patients.
When beer is consumed in an excessive amount, the symptoms of confusion, slurring of speech and a loss of gait or an imbalance in the gait occur. This also leads to heavy breathing and the intoxicated individual becomes lethargic.
Importantly, here both sensory and the motor control and coordination is severely hampered and such people are not able to carry out mechanical tasks especially driving owing to the imbalance in the cognition.
This also follows nausea and vomiting and the same can be fatal is the vomit is aspirated into the lungs, thus causing grave danger to life.
Beer also has a direct effect on the kidney and leads to expulsion of large quantities of urine and especially the excretion of magnesium and other essential minerals is done through the same.
This sudden loss of fluid and electrolytes can also cause severe complications especially since sodium and potassium are also lost through this process and fluctuating potassium levels lead to cardiac arrhythmia’s or irregular heartbeats.
Long term effects
As we have already discussed above, beer being a form of alcohol will have all major side effects caused by alcohol itself.
Some studies have also shown that the intake of smaller amounts of beer is associated with a decrease in cardiac illnesses and diabetes mellitus.
The long term effects are majorly seen on the liver where in there might be the development of alcoholic liver disease or liver cirrhosis.
A common condition arising from the intake of excessive alcohol is the long term dependence and addiction of the same.
In such cases, symptoms can include mood swings, decreased hunger, tremors and a decline in cognitive function owing to the effects of alcohol on the brain and the senses.
End stage effects may include development of ulcers and liver disorders which eventually lead to death.
Studies have also shown that binge drinking of beer leads the accumulation of excessive fat especially around the stomach and the belly, this condition is commonly known as beer belly!
Thus we see that beer has long term side effects if it is consumed in excessive quantities and thus should be taken in small and limited quantities to avoid the same.
Xanthohumol is a compound found in beer which is believed to help prevent cancers of the prostate thus playing an extremely important role in reducing the occurrences of cancer especially in the elderly.
Vitamin B6 found in beer has beneficial effects on the heart as it helps improve the functioning of the same. B6 also helps reduce the cholesterol content in blood thereby preventing atherosclerosis and helping reduce the blood pressure.
Studies have linked increased bone density with intake of moderate quantities of beer, thus reducing the risk of fractures and also occurrence of diseases such as osteoporosis.
The presence of vitamin B12 and folic acid in beer also helps reduce anemia and helps maintain blood production in the body.
Beer contains vitamin E which is directly linked to keeping the skin healthy and free of disease. It also helps maintain skin tone and therefore help in delaying the aging process.
The power of beer to lower cholesterol levels also helps reduce the incidence of formation of gallstones, thus being of benefit to the gall bladder.
Beer is a known diuretic and helps increase the production of urine. It thus helps promote kidney function and also can help flush out any kidney stones that may cause obstruction in the urinary tract.
Barley acting as the main ingredient in beer also has a high fiber content and thus helps cleanse the intestinal tract. As a result, this helps prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and also helps maintain a good and healthy peristaltic movement of the intestines.
Thus we see the various features and the advantages and disadvantages of the consumption of beer.
It has to be noted here that this article does not promote or support the consumption of alcohol in any which way or manner.