Water, malt, hops, and brewer’s yeast – These are four simple ingredients that when combined create one of the world’s most consumed beverages, beer. In this blog we outline some of the current research about the relationship between the brewer’s yeast and our gut microbiomes – and they’re predominantly positive!
Beer: We love it, but what is it really?
Just like with every great science experiment, the quality of your result heavily depends on the quality and quantity of your raw materials. These differences are what ultimately single out beers from each other. But don’t be fooled, although the basic ingredients may seem simple the brewing process is not and brewers have been perfecting their methods for centuries shaping the multifarious nature of beer that we love today.
Beer, in its essence, is a result of successful starch-based yeast fermentation. Commonly, highly starchy barley grains are encouraged to partially germinate prior to being combined with water. Here is where the magic happens, traditional brewers release unicellular organisms, namely Saccharomyces cerevisiae or brewer’s yeast, into the solution and supply them with copious amount of sugar. A happy biproduct of yeast’s sugar dependency is alcohol – ethanol and CO2. The levels of each adorning some of our favourite beers in bottles, cans, and of course, from the draft. Modern-day brewing ordinarily includes (the conical flower of) hops, or Humulus lupulus, as well for three main reasons: stabilisation, clarification and of course to inject their unique flavours.
Lager, Pilsner, Ale, Stout, Bock, and so on…
We have already established that yeast plays an essential role in the production of beer, but what singles out each type of beer then? The answer lies not only in the way the beer is prepared but also in the specific strain that is used.
When it comes to Ale V.S. Lager, the differences lie in the way that the yeast ferments. Top-fermentation is the oldest method and refers to the cultures being added to the, you guessed it, top layer of the wort (liquid mixture made from boiling malted hop grains) and also being processed at a higher temperature. This method results in Ale.
So how does this tie in with our gut microbiome?
As a disclaimer we would like to point out that over-consumption of anything is always advised against. Having said that, the following sub-section will outline some of the current research about the relationship between brewer’s yeast and our gut microbiomes – and they’re predominantly positive.
For clarification purposes, your microbiome is collection of microorganisms in a particular environment. Strong links between you and your gut microbiome’s happiness have been identified, implying a variety of effects on conditions ranging from Depression and Anxiety to Multiple Sclerosis and Atopic Eczema.
Recent studies claim that beer, notably only the non-alcoholic versions, have a noticeable effect on our gut microbiomes. The conclusion was that moderate consumption (355mL per day) non-alcoholic beer has a positive effect on our overall health. The trick here is that the fermented beer which contains beneficial bacteria, can potentially enrich the gut microbiota diversity.
But why is an enriched diversity better for your microbiome?
The answer here lies in the intrinsic link between our gut microbiome and our immune system. Approximately 80% of our immune system resides in the lining of our all too precious gut and our gut microbiome, after having to send message through a reasonably sized mucus layer, is constantly communicating with it. In a scenario where your immune system is having to tackle a certain disease, it will draw on our little microbe friends to offer a helping hand. Here is where the gut’s diversity and richness comes into play – with high richness and diversity in your gut microbiome, your community is significantly more capable and resilient. In other words, with a greater variety of species for your immune system to reach out to, your chances of tackling certain conditions (and even in some cases avoiding them all together) are much higher. Obesity, Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes, Celiac disease, and Chronic fatigue syndrome are all the tip of the iceberg when it comes to conditions that have been found to have a correlation with your gut microbiome’s diversity.
So all-in-all this is both good and bad news for beer lovers around the world, since although beer can be beneficial for not only your gut microbiome but also your health as a whole, it does have to be alcohol-free. On the bright side, you can now say with confidence that although dry January was not the most enjoyable experience, you did in fact manage to take extra care of your gut microbiome in the process.
Are your microbes thirsty for more? Check out our other blogs about all things microbiome here: https://www.baseclear.com/blog/