Beer for Better Brain Health?

Beer for Better Brain Health? about undefined
New research emerges all the time about the benefits of drinking wine… The findings about fermented grape juice got some folks so excited, they started testing the benefits of beer too. And for good reason: when it comes to amount consumed, beer ranks #3 among all the beverages in the world, after water and tea.1 So far, researchers have not found that drinking gallons of beer will help your health, but they have discovered some healthy (and previously overlooked) phytonutrients in the raw ingredients used to make beer. Read on to discover how you can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline with these powerful new compounds… What I’m referring to is a compound in hops flowers called xanthohumol(pronounced "zan-tho-hue-mahl"). It’s found in resin inside the lupulin glandsof the hops plant. Hops are flowering vines grown in northern climates. The pinecone-looking flower heads are used in beer – which contains "a kiss of the hops" as an old commercial used to put it. Xanthohumol is a prenylflavonoid, a sub-class of flavonoids found in the plant kingdom. Prenylflavonoids are adaptogens, chemicals that help decrease cells’ sensitivity to stress. The hops nutrient has been hailed as a "master molecule" because it does so many beneficial things for the body… In fact, xanthohumol is said to be 200 times more powerful than resveratrol, the antioxidant found in grapes, red wine and dark chocolate… In addition to that, elements within this micronutrient have been shown to prevent inflammation and reduce cognitive decline.

How Xanthohumol Can Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease has been called “type three diabetes” because it’s often a result of high blood sugar or metabolic syndrome. Alzheimer’s shares symptoms and features that overlap with both type one and type two diabetes, such as chronic inflammation and endothelium dysfunction (usually defined as when the inner lining of the blood vessels is too constrictive, limiting blood flow).2 In studies of diabetic mice, researchers find that xanthohumol can decrease inflammation and free radical damage, and improve blood circulation.3 Improved blood circulation and less inflammation help keep the brain healthy, reducing the risk of ischemic stroke and cognitive decline brought on by dying neurons starved of nutrients. One study, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, found that alpha acids (iso-α-acids; also known as isoxanthohumol, the chemical formed when hops is boiled in the beer-making process) can suppress inflammation and control overactive microglia.4 Microglia, as I’ve mentioned before, are the "janitors" of the central nervous system. They clear out old cells and cell debris. Chronic inflammation causes microglia to go into overdrive, damaging healthy neurons. In the study, the researchers fed alpha acids to Alzheimer’s-model mice and found that it reduced beta amyloid plaques by as much as 21%. The study concluded that "the suppression of neuroinflammation and improvement in cognitive function suggests that iso-α-acids contained in beer may be useful for the prevention of dementia."

How to Get More Xanthohumol in Your Diet

Even though xanthohumol is found in the hops plant, and hops are common in beer, drinking beer isn’t a practical way to get a clinical dose of the nutrient. While there is a small amount of xanthohumol in beer, especially in "hoppy" beers like India Pale Ales (IPAs), by the time the raw hops flowers have been mashed, boiled, fermented and strained into beer, the amount of xanthohumol left is tiny. You’d have to drink 300 beers a day to get the full benefit. Definitely not recommended. The best way to harness the power of this micronutrient is to take 5 mg daily of concentrated liquid xanthohumol. Liquid is best, as the body has trouble absorbing powdered or tablet forms. There are several patented or patent-pending xanthohumol supplements available on the market. Shop around for the best products, and check the label to be sure you get one free from preservatives, alcohol and additives. Based on the evidence we have, a xanthohumol supplement looks to be another way to keep your brain healthy and help to prevent cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. When taken in healthy doses, xanthohumol is completely nontoxic.
  1. Determination of isoxanthohumol, xanthohumol, alpha and beta bitter acids, and trans- and cis-iso-alpha-acids in beer using HPLC with UV and electrochemical detection.
  2. Alzheimer’s Disease Is Type 3 Diabetes–Evidence Reviewed.
  3. Xanthohumol Modulates Inflammation, Oxidative Stress, and Angiogenesis in Type 1 Diabetic Rat Skin Wound Healing.
  4. Iso-α-acids, Bitter Components of Beer, Prevent Inflammation and Cognitive Decline Induced in a Mouse Model of Alzheimer's Disease.

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