Enjoy a beer or two? New research suggest that drinking beer could prevent damage of the brain thus slowing down the development of disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Research by Dr. Jianguo Fang and his team at Lanzhou University's School of Chemistry shows a compound called xanthohumol or Xn present in the beer is observed to have anti-carcinogenic, anti-oxidation and cardiovascular-protection properties. Lanzhou University is a major research university in Lanzhou, Gansu Province, China.
The oxidative damage to the neuronal cells is responsible for the development of brain diseases, according to the research, said Fang. Brain defects like Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and other neurodegenerative conditions could be prevented or slowed down by the preventing the oxidative damage to these neuronal cells.
Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that causes interruption in memory, thinking and behavior, whereas Parkinson’s disease is a chronic and progressive movement disorder due to the death of vital nerve cells or neurons.
This is not the first study that claims beer could be helpful. Researchers from the University of Alcala in Madrid, Spain, in a report published in the January, 2008 issue of Food and Chemical Toxicology, pointed out that aluminum is neurotoxic and has been implicated as a causal factor in Alzheimer’s disease. But beer contains silicon, a substance that affects the bioavailability of aluminum. The study, which involved giving both an aluminum compound and beer to mice and later analyzing aluminum concentrations in brain tissue, found that the silicon in “moderately high” levels beer intake – the equivalent of two beers per day - limited the ability of aluminum to damage the brain.
Other research also makes this same suggestion. An analysis of research published in 2011 in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment Moderate, reported alcohol consumption may help stave off memory problems and/or Alzheimer's disease.
Researchers at that time reviewed 143 studies comprising more than 365,000 participants from 19 countries. Overall, moderate drinkers were 23% less likely to develop signs of memory problems or Alzheimer's disease. These benefits were seen in 14 of 19 countries, including the U.S., the study showed. Moderate drinking was defined as a maximum of one drink daily for women and two drinks daily for men. A standard drink is defined as 1.5 ounces of spirits, 5 ounces of wine, or 12 ounces of beer.
"This study is not the final word, but it does provide the most complete picture out there," says study researcher Michael A. Collins, PhD, of the department of molecular pharmacology and therapeutics at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, as quoted in the 2011 story on WebMD.
Heavy alcohol consumption or more than three to five drinks per day did show a trend of increased risk for memory problems and dementia in that study, but the finding did not reach statistical significance.
Christy Tangney, PhD, an associate professor of clinical nutrition at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, said that moderation is the key.
"It is a friendly balancing act," she explained.
"Social drinking can be a very positive thing as long as it is not excessive and doesn't exceed a drink per day for women or two drinks for men," Tangney says. "Light-to-moderate drinking appears to benefit cognitive performance."
This new beer research, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, shows that people who regularly drink beer might be better able to ward off the progression of neurological diseases.
Dr. Fang wrote: “Hops from dried female clusters of the hop plant are widely used in beers and a few types of soft drinks. In traditional Chinese medicine, hops have been used to treat a variety of ailments for centuries. The presence of a high concentration of Xn in beers might be linked to the epidemiological observation of the beneficial effect of regular beer drinking. Xn has attracted considerable interest because of its multiple pharmacological functions, including anti-oxidation, cardiovascular protection, anticancer and cancer chemoprevention, antivirus, anti-obesity, and anti-inflammation.”
His team isolated Xn molecules and tested them on brain cells from rats in a series of laboratory experiments.
Dr. Arthur Roach, director of research at Parkinson’s UK, quoted on parkinsonsresource.org, said, “Many drugs have their origins in natural products. Xn, the molecule in beer this study focuses on, appears to have protective effects on cells grown in the lab similar to those lost in Parkinson’s.”
Roach was quoted saying, “It certainly does not suggest drinking a pint a day could stave off the condition.”
He explained that this is a very early step and addition research is required to determine potential new drugs for Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Alzheimer’s, dementia and other memory issues, as well as Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, cause Long Term Health Care issues. Long Term Care costs impact families monetarily as well as cause tremendous burden on loved ones.
Health Insurance and Medicare in the United States and many other nations will not cover the cost of care unless someone has little or no assets.