Nutrition researchers at the Griffith Health Institute (GHI) have found that it’s possible to improve the hydrating effects of beer, without killing off its taste. Therefore people who enjoy a cold one at the end of a hard day’s labour won’t be at risk of dehydration.
While beer has long been known to contain positive nutrients resulting from its plant origins and fermentation process, the alcohol content means it goes out faster than water, which increases dehydration and its obvious neurological effects.
The consumption of alcohol by people who are dehydrated is also known to increase the likelihood of risky behaviour.
Associate Professor Ben Desbrow from GHI’s Centre for Health Practice Innovation has been looking at improving the health qualities of beer by combing electrolytes and reducing alcohol to find if hydration can be improved. He says that the answer is yes, by a substantial margin.
“We basically manipulated the electrolyte levels of two commercial beers, one regular strength and one light beer and gave it to research subjects who’d just lost a significant amount of sweat by exercising. We then used several measures to monitor the participant’s fluid recovery to the different beers,” he says.
“Of the four different beers the subjects consumed, our augmented light beer was by far the most well retained by the body, meaning it was the most effective at rehydrating the subjects.”
The ‘improved’ light beer was actually a third more effective at hydrating a person than normal beer.
Neither GHI nor Associate Professor Desbrow think it a good idea to drink beer after strenuous exercise.
“This is definitely not a good idea, but what we’ve found is that many people who sweat a lot, especially tradesmen, knock off work and have a beer; it’s pretty normal. But alcohol in a dehydrated body can have all sorts of repercussions, including decreased awareness of risk.
“So, if you’re going to live in the real world, you can either spend your time telling people what they shouldn’t do, or you can work on ways of reducing the danger of some of these socialised activities.”
The results of Associate Professor Ben Desbrow’s work have recently been published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.