I have never been a fan of non-alcoholic beer. Perhaps it is because the brands offered are bland and tasteless. This issue of the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Medicine demonstrates that low alcohol beer can be healthy for you. Researchers at the University of Munich (where else) gave low alcohol beer to marathon runners. Subjects consumed between 1 to 1.5L of low alcohol beer for three weeks before and two weeks after the Munich Marathon. The beer used in this study was alcohol-free Erdinger Weissbier.
What the researchers found was that runners given beer had a 3 fold reduction in the incidence of upper respiratory tract illnesses (URTI) after the marathon. They also had lower blood levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6) and high-sensitive c-reactive protein (hs-CRP); both are blood markers for inflammation in the body. This is a big deal for high intensity athletes. These athletes are known for URTI and inflammation due to the physiologic stress associated with prolonged exercise.
So how did beer help? Beer is a major source of phenolic compounds in the diet. Plant based phenolics possess anti-viral, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Remember beer is an extract of plant based materials (barley and hops). Other notable sources of plant based phenolic are green tea and the immune boosting botanical Echinacea. It is thought that products with multiple phenolic compounds work better that individual ones. More than 50 polyphenolic compounds have been identified in barley and hops.
Apparently you can be sponsored as an athlete by Erdinger. My German is not that good, but that is what their website looks like. So enjoy your low-alcohol wheat beer in good health. It sure won't help me; I only run when chased
Other beer and health articles