The Jakarta Post
Are there any benefits from drinking beer? Recent and past studies indicate, yes, there are. (Shutterstock/File)
There have long been debate and doubt over whether we should regularly drink beer, one of the oldest drinks in the world.
According to several estimates, around 2 billion people around the world consume beer daily or occasionally.
Beer is also the third-most consumed drink in the world after water and tea.
Thanks to growing incomes in Asia and Latin America, beer sales have increased significantly. However, alcohol consumption, including beer, is on the decline in Europe and the United States.
In 2016, people around the world consumed 186.89 million kiloliters of beer. Currently, the global beer market is estimated at US$281 billion and it may grow to $300 billion by 2020. Asia has been the largest beer consumer for more than two decades, thanks to giants like China, India, Japan, Vietnam and South Korea.
Are there any benefits from drinking beer? Recent and past studies indicate, yes, there are.
According to Belgium-based John Martin Brewery, drinking beer is good for the kidneys, better for digestion and controls bad cholesterol. Beer contains vitamin B, works as a cure for insomnia, reduces the risk of heart attacks, boosts memory, prevents blood clots and combats stress.
It is also said that beer is good for a woman’s skin, though beer is often considered a “man’s drink.” But actually, the first brewers of beer were women in Iraq and Syria around 6,000 years ago.
So what is beer and what are its main ingredients?
“Beer’s main content is water, up to 95 percent. The water should be of high quality. Beer is basically a fermented beverage made with barley,” Michael Bliss, corporate communications officer of Indonesia’s leading beer company PT Multi Bintang, told The Jakarta Post recently.
Beer is made from malted barley or other grains, hops, yeast and water, Michael continued.
It gets its color, flavor, Maltose, proteins and dextrins from grains, while hops add the bitterness, flavor, aroma and stability.
Beer comes in many types, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. For example, a small country like Belgium produces more than 250 types of beer in many flavors.
Not all beers are the same; there are ales, lagers, stouts, pilsners and malts. They normally have an alcohol content of between 4 and 6 percent.
Indonesia’s major beer producer, Multi Bintang, produces Bintang, Bintang Zero and Bintang Radler, while competitor Delta Djakarta produces Anker. We also have Bali Hai (from PT Bali Hai Brewery Indonesia) and newcomer Prost beer from Orang Tua group. These three major brewers also produce beer for global brands like Heineken, Carlsberg, San Miguel, Ashai and El Diablo.
Despite all the health benefits of beer, many countries have imposed restrictions on beer sales. For example, Indonesia banned the sale of alcohol, including beers, from mini markets in 2015. Thailand has barred beer sales near educational and religious places.
Singapore does not allow people to buy alcoholic drinks from mini markets and shops at night. Still, people can buy beer at bars, cafes and night clubs.
Meanwhile, Vietnam, the biggest beer consuming nation in Southeast Asia, has imposed a 65 percent tax on beer sales.
Granted, beer is not an entirely healthy drink as it can cause liver damage when consumed in excess.
Drinking beer is only good for you if you drink moderately.
“Drinking two beers a day is ideal for everybody,” Bliss said.
According to John Martin Brewery, there are 12 benefits of drinking beer and says on its website anthonymartin.be: “Convinced? Then let’s go! Two beers for memory, two for digestion, another for better bone density, one for your kidneys and the rest as a cold remedy […] Normally, this should guarantee good health, right? […] The idea is not to get drunk every night, but instead to enjoy a nice refreshing beer now and then, without any excess!”