Certain beers could be considered “very healthy” thanks to the amount of gut-friendly bacteria they contain, according to scientists specialising in gut health.
Professor Eric Claassen, who works at Amsterdam University, explained that strong Belgian beers, including Hoegaarden, Westmalle Tripel and Echt Kriekenbier, are rich in probiotic microbes that offer a range of health benefits.
Presenting his research at an event held by probiotic drink maker Yakult, Professor Claassen said that unlike most mainstream beers, which go through a single fermentation process, these beers are fermented twice.
The second fermentation not only creates a drier flavour and boosts the strength of the beer, but it also uses a different strain of yeast found in traditional pints.
This strain of yeast produces acids that kill harmful bacteria in the gut that can make us ill.
“You are getting a stronger beer that is very, very healthy,” he said.
While the professor stressed that the research does not mean it’s OK to start guzzling pint after pint, it might mean that those who consume these beers in moderation could see major health benefits.
“We don’t want to give people a licence to drink more beer,” he added. “Those of us who advocate good health know it’s very difficult for people to stop at one.
“In high concentrations alcohol is bad for the gut but if you drink just one of these beers every day it would be very good for you.”
The health benefits of probiotics are well-documented.
While they can be found in foods such as yoghurt, kimchi and kefir, they are most commonly taken in capsule form as food supplements and are thought to restore the natural balance of bacteria in the gut after periods of illness, when taking a course of antibiotics might’ve irritated the stomach and intestines.
The NHS claims that probiotics may also help reduce bloating and flatulence in IBS sufferers.