Beer to Slow Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease

Having a beer or two may ward off Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s according to a study.

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Beer to Slow Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease
6 Min Read October 23rd, 2015 Updated:September 11th, 2022

Do you enjoy a beer or two? A research study from China suggested that drinking beer could prevent damage to 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.

According to the research, said Fang, oxidative damage to the neuronal cells is responsible for the development of brain diseases. Brain defects like Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and other neurodegenerative conditions could be prevented or slowed down by preventing the oxidative damage to these neuronal cells.

Alzheimer's disease is a type of dementia that causes an 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.

Many Studies Say Beer Could Be Helpful

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 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 of beer intake – the equivalent of two beers per day - limited the ability of aluminum to damage the brain.

German researchers followed more than 3,000 people across Germany for three years and also saw less dementia. Other research also makes this same suggestion. An analysis of research published in 2011 in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment reported that moderate alcohol consumption might 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."

Michael A. Collins, Ph.D., of the department of molecular pharmacology and therapeutics at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, 

Heavy Alcohol Use Leads to Increased Cognitive Decline Risk

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, Ph.D., 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. 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. 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, from Lanzhou University's School of Chemistry, said that hops have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. 

"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 U.K., explains that this research is a very early step, and additional research is required to determine potential new drugs for Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative diseases.

"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. It certainly does not suggest drinking a pint a day could stave off the condition."

Memory Problems One of Many Reasons That Lead to Long-Term Care

Alzheimer's, dementia, and other memory issues, as well as Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative diseases, cause long-term health care issues. The costs of long-term care services adversely impact families monetarily as well as cause a 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.

He explained that this is a very early step, and additional 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. The costs of long-term care services adversely impact families monetarily as well as cause a tremendous burden on loved ones.

LTC Insurance Provides Quality Care and Asset Protection

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.

Many American families are planning for the future costs and burdens of aging. Cognitive decline, changes in our bodies, and declining health all come with getting older. You can protect income and assets and reduce the stress and burdens that are otherwise placed on family members due to a long-term care situation. The solution for many American families is affordable Long-Term Care Insurance. However, policies must be obtained prior to your health declining.

Learn about your options before you retire and experience declining health. A qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist can help you find affordable options. The best time to plan is before you retire, ideally in your 40s or 50s.

Find a trusted and experienced specialist by clicking here.

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About the Author

An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

LTC News Contributor James Kelly

James Kelly

Contributor since August 21st, 2017

Editor's Note

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You might be eligible at younger ages as well. 

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