Why having a strong, Belgian beer might be a form of self-care

Strong Belgian beers are rich in probiotic microbes that kill harmful gut bacteria

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If you enjoy a nice, cold beer after a long day, you might actually be practicing self-care — if you pick a strong, Belgian one, that is. Those beers have “very healthy” gut-friendly bacteria, a scientist said.

Professor Eric Claassen of Amsterdam University specializes in gut health. He explained that stong Belgian beers like Hoegaarden, Westalle Tripel and others are rich in probiotic microbes — bacteria and yeast credited with health benefits ranging from combating obesity to getting a better night’s sleep.

The difference between these “healthy” beers and most commercial beers is they are fermented twice instead of just once.

“The second fermentation increases the strength of the beer and creates a sharper, drier taste,” the Telegraph reported.

The second fermentation "also uses a different strain of yeast found in traditional pints. This strain of yeast produces acids that kill harmful bacteria in the gut that can make us ill," the Independent reported.

The bacteria in this beer is the same as that found in yogurt and kimchi.

“You are getting a stronger beer that is very, very healthy,” Claassen told attendees of an event held by probiotic drink maker Yakult.

Don’t think this research means it’s OK to drink a lot, however.

“We don’t want to give people a licence to drink more beer,” Claassen said. “Those of us who advocate good health know it’s very difficult for people to stop at one. In high concentrations alcohol is bad for the gut, but if you drink just one of these beers every day it would be very good for you.”

Researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel might disagree. They conducted a study in September 2018, published in the Cell journal, to determine the effectiveness of probiotics, which are live bacteria meant to boost the immune system, prevent disease and repair the adverse effects of antibiotics by colonizing the good bacteria along the digestive tract.

The scientists learned that the probiotics’ gut colonization prevented both the host gut’s gene expression and their microbiome from returning to their normal pre-antibiotic configurations months later.

“Contrary to the current dogma that probiotics are harmless and benefit everyone, these results reveal a new and potentially alarming adverse side effect of probiotic use with antibiotics that might even bring long-term consequences,” senior author Eran Elinav said.

The researchers concluded that “probiotics should not be universally given as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ supplement. Instead, they could be tailored to the needs of each individual.”

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