For this article, I have skimmed through scientific theories and findings to determine the impact of beer consumption on probiotics and if it is wise to pair them both together.
Beer is one of the oldest alcoholic drinks that is devoured by many around the world. A recent survey revealed that in the US alone, people consume more than 40 gallons of beer per annum.
So, seeing how popular this beverage is among most adults, it may affect gut health in one way or another.
But gladly, although the alcohol content of beer may kill the probiotic bacteria, this effect is not as pronounced if it is consumed in moderation. Furthermore, as beer is made by fermenting hops and barley, so it has some phytochemical compounds and bacteria that promote the abundance of probiotic species in the gut.
In this article, I’ve talked about how beer positively impacts gut health despite its alcohol content and if you can take your probiotic supplement with it.
Plus, by the end of this read, you will also find tips for regaining your gut health after beer or alcohol over-consumption.
How Does Beer Affect Probiotics?
Beer contains certain compounds that support the growth of friendly gut bacteria and may also deliver certain probiotic organisms there.
For instance, ferulic acid is the most abundant phytochemical in beer (6.5 mg/L) that is contributed by barley, and it helps to prevent gut microbiome dysbiosis.
However, most of beer’s polyphenol content is derived from dried hops, which contain around 4–14% polyphenols.
Furthermore, in some cases, beer may retain some good bacteria that were involved in its fermentation process, which may also expand the population of friendly gut commensals.
So, here are some research-based explanations of how beer has a positive effect on probiotic bacteria in the gut.
Beer Is Rich In Polyphenols
Multiple studies have assessed the effect of the antioxidant properties of beer on the gut microbiota and found a positive correlation between the two.
For instance, a recent 2022 clinical trial performed by Claudia et al. concluded that the rich polyphenol content of both alcoholic (5.2% alcohol content) and non-alcoholic beer increases the gut microbiome diversity irrespective of its alcohol content.
Additionally, various studies suggest that beer consumption may increase the population of probiotics such as Enterobacteriaceae, Akkermansia, Bifidobacterium lactis, Bacteroides, Lactobacillus, and Bifidobacterium species and repress harmful bacteria like Clostridium species.
In another 2019 research, scientists reported that the moderate daily consumption of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beer increases the Bacteroidetes to Firmicutes ratio because of the ferulic acid in it, which translates into a preferable microbiome balance.
Therefore, beer helps to improve the integrity of the intestinal barrier and imparts other positive health outcomes.
Scientists Are Exploring Probiotic-Containing Beers To Support Gut Health
Scientists have explored beer as a potential drink for delivering probiotic lactic acid bacteria such as L. brevis and L. farciminis to the gut.
In addition to this, professor Eric Classen shared in a conference hosted by Yakult that strong Belgian beers such as Hoegaarden, Westmalle Tripel, and Echt Kriekenbier have plenty of probiotic bacteria as in yogurt or kimchi because they undergo double fermentation.
So, if you are still wondering, does beer kill good gut bacteria? Then no, because the benefits of its antioxidant compounds and probiotics may outweigh the harmful effect of its alcohol content.
And if you want to know how much beer is ‘not too much,’ then according to the researchers quoted by the Independent.co.uk, drinking beer once a day might not disrupt your gut health a lot.
Beer With Probiotic Supplements – Is It OK To Have Them Together?
No, beer may increase the stomach pH, which may kill the bacteria and reduce the efficacy of the probiotic supplements, so it is better to allow adequate spacing between the two.
Nonetheless, the probiotics encapsulated in delayed-release capsules are protected from the acidic environment, so they survive better than those in tablets.
Correspondingly, a study found that alcoholic beverages with a low ethanol content, such as beer, stimulate higher gastric secretion, which may raise the stomach pH.
For a fact, the stomach pH varies between 1.5 to 3.5, and studies show that most probiotics are unable to tolerate this pH which may be why there are just about 104 CFU/ml bacteria here.
In contrast, the pH in the distal part of the intestine and colon varies between 5-8, and they have the highest bacterial density, about 1011 to 1012 CFU/ml.
Another proof of this hypothesis can be found in a study that assessed the survival rate of different commercial probiotic strains at pH 1.5, 3.0, and 7.2.
The results suggested that the probiotic counts remain constant at neutral pH of 7.2 but decrease at lower pHs of 1.5 and 3.0.
Furthermore, gastric emptying and movement of the stomach contents into the small intestine takes approximately 2-4 hours.
So, if you take probiotics just before beer, immediately after it, or take them both together, in all three cases, beer may prove detrimental to the probiotic survival.
As a rule of thumb, you should wait at least 4 to 8 hours before having a drink so that the probiotics you dosed on have safely reached the intestines.
How To Restore Gut Health After Alcohol/Beer?
Have you overdosed on alcohol/beer, and now your upset gut is making you uncomfortable? Stress not because here are a few tips that will help you redeem your gut health.
Some of the corrective measures you can take are to dose up on good bacteria, make some healthy food choices and modify your routine a bit.
Here is how you can do it.
You Should Start Taking Probiotics
Oral probiotic supplements are a great way to re-inhabit the gut with good bacteria and heal gut dysbiosis.
In contrast to probiotic foods, probiotic supplements provide a calculated dose of specific probiotic strains in quantities that are suitable to generate their beneficial effects.
According to internationalprobiotics.org, research suggests that a dose of about 10 billion CFU per day is considered to be the breaking point of probiotic effectiveness.
Even so, what is the use of these figures if the bacterial strains don’t reach the gut alive?
For this reason, supplements that ensure that they will deliver viable bacteria to the gut make them stand out from the rest.
In that regard, Biotics8 and Yourbiology gut+ are two of the best probiotic supplements among many.
They not only shield the bacteria by MAKtrek technology and in HPMC capsules, respectively, but they also contain pre-biotics that support the colonization of live bacteria in the gut and help to restore the microbiome balance.
Introduce Some Necessary Lifestyle Changes
Excessive stress and lack of sleep play major roles in shaping and modulating the gut microbiome.
So, if you have already done one wrong of overdosing on alcohol, make it right by taking out the second wrong of pursuing health-damaging habits from your life’s equation.
Recent studies have found that our gut and brain communicate with each other via the gut-brain axis.
Hence, not only can your gut microbes brighten you up, but a bad mood can also encourage the growth of pathogenic bacteria and trigger gut inflammation or diseases and vice versa.
For instance, scientists observed that increasing stress in university students throughout the semester was directly proportional to decreasing diversity of good bacteria in them.
So, when you are stressed, try to change your mind by going out for a walk, working out, meditating, taking deep breaths, and engaging in activities like cleaning, cooking, painting, etc.
Similar to the bidirectional effect of mood with gut bacteria, your sleep also affects the gut microbial diversity and vice versa.
In a 2019 study, Robert et al. reported that better sleep positively correlates with a more diverse microbiome in the subjects, whereas disturbed sleep has a negative impact on it.
This explains why you might get digestion problems after pulling all-nighters.
So, to prevent further damage, try to catch up on 7 to 9 hours of effective sleep after beer/alcohol.
Cut down on unhealthy foods.
If your diet is pre-dominated by junk and processed foods, then you need to replace them with nutritious foods immediately to let the burden off your gut while it is healing from the alcohol overdose.
According to a 2019 study, processed foods have high sugar and fat content, have harmful food additives like emulsifiers or artificial colors, and are low in fiber which alters the gut microbiome and causes inflammation.
So, try to incorporate organic fruits and vegetables in your diet because your choice of food is, in fact, the feed for your intestinal friends or foes.
Beer With Probiotics – 3 Options To Try
The general perception of beer is that it is not a copious source of probiotics. And it is justified because many commercial beers, except the craft ones, are sterilized and filtered to prevent contamination and enhance preservation.
Plus, nowadays, most beers are made with hops which produce α-acids that give them their characteristic bitter taste and have a preservation effect as they inhibit the growth of many bacteria, including some probiotic strains, e.g., Lactobacillus spp.
However, you might have an idea from the information I provided above that not all beers are devoid of probiotics (remember Belgian beers?).
Scientists are also working on new versions that carry a fairly better proportion of good bacteria.
Therefore, I researched some of the healthiest beers for your gut and came up with the following recommendations:
Red Billion Probiotic Raspberry Sour beer
It is the world’s first gut-friendly probiotic beer that is injected with over 1 billion CFU of Lactobacillus paracasei bacteria that is in accordance with the ISAPP (International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics) recommended minimum effective range of probiotics.
This beer is unique because its health benefit has been scientifically validated in clinical trials by the National University of Singapore (NUS).
Additionally, it has just 4.5% alcohol by volume (ABV) and doesn’t pose a serious threat to gut microbial diversity.
You may buy this beer from this website for now, but it may also become available in markets and stores soon.
Hoegaarden White Beer
Hoegaarden is a modified version of traditional ‘Witbier,’ and it may retain some probiotics because it is ‘bottle-conditioned’ and un-filtered.
Here, Witbier is a traditional white beer that has been around for more than six centuries and has a rich probiotic profile since it uses non-hop botanicals such as gruit (a combo of herbs and/or spices).
Nonetheless, this Belgian-style witbier is also low in hops and is mostly brewed by using un-malted wheat, oats, or malted barley and spiced with coriander or orange peels so it may retain some good bacteria in it.
Plus, when this beer is filled in the bottle, the probiotic yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) is added to it, which initiates a second round of fermentation, also referred to as bottle conditioning.
Since this beer is not filtered, it contains wheat protein and suspended yeast which gives it a white, cloudy appearance when chilled, which is why it is characterized as ‘white beer.’
Apart from this, Hoegaarden has an alcohol percentage of just 4.8% (which is quite low for a Belgian and wheat beer); thus, it may pose less damage to the gut microbiome.
If you are tempted to try it, then winesearcher.com mentions its average price as $4 per 750 ml.
Echt kriekenbier, aka real cherry beer, may contain a nice ratio of probiotic bacteria because it undergoes mixed fermentation and is free from hop α acids.
This beer contains the probiotic yeast (S. cerevisiae) and is soured and fermented in oak wood barrels for a good one to three years before reaching your table.
Additionally, since it is based on cherries, it may also be rich in phytonutrients and polyphenols that support the growth of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species in the gut.
If you want to purchase it, 750 ml of this beer would cost you an average of $11 in the US.
Final Thoughts – Beer doesn’t kill probiotics unless…
Drinking beer in moderation may not damage the gut probiotic bacteria too much.
One of the many reasons might be that although alcohol is the prime probiotic killer, beer has a milder alcoholic content than other beverages like wine.
In fact, a standard beer drink (12 ounces) has 4%-6% alcohol by volume, whereas a standard drink of wine (5 ounces) has around 14% alcohol by volume.
Other reasons could be that it has abundant polyphenols and may also deliver probiotics, which makes it less detrimental for the gut microbes.
Nonetheless, an excess of everything is bad, so don’t go overboard with the booze.
And if you avoid having more than one drink a day and take probiotics daily, you may not develop any concerning side effects.
But still, if you face any symptoms, always consult your doctor for his advice.
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