Posted by Theresa Moses, Lagos | 30 November 2015 | 3,426 times
Incredible but true! That could be the reaction of both teetotallers and most lovers of beer to the news from health experts and professional nutritionists, that moderate drinking has obvious health benefits, while its regular consumption, contrary to popular belief, is not responsible for lower abdominal obesity (pot belly).
These were some of the revelations at the recent seminar/workshop with the theme ‘Beer and Lifestyle’ organised by the nation’s leading brewer, Nigerian Breweries Plc, held at the ultra-modern Intercontinental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos. In his paper, ‘Healthy Lifestyle and Beer Consumption: Any Nexus?’ Tola Atinmo, a Professor of Human Nutrition, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Oyo State and consultant to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), answered the question by presenting the various connections between moderate beer consumption and healthy lifestyle.
His words: “Beer provides vitamins, minerals, and flavonoids. Beer is rich in many B-group vitamins and minerals such as magnesium. The barley and hops used in the production of beer are rich in flavonoids, which have powerful antioxidant effects and lowers risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). There is quite strong evidence that light-to-moderate alcohol consumption has cardio-protective properties. Many studies demonstrate a lower coronary heart disease incidence among moderate beer drinkers. Moderate drinkers are at lower risk of CHD-related mortality than both heavy drinkers and abstainers. The vitamin B6 in beer also seems to prevent the alcohol-induced rise in blood homocysteine: a probable heart disease risk factor and helps produce good cholesterol. Moderate alcohol drinking affects many processes in the body, one of which is the significant increase in the good cholesterol. There is evidence supporting beer’s cardio-protective effect and it helps in altering the ratio of beneficial HDL cholesterol and reduces risk of kidney stones. Beer consumption may reduce the risk of developing kidney stones.”
Prof. Atinmo also cited another finding from far-away Finland, where researchers found that there was a 40 per cent lower risk of kidney stones among beer drinkers. “A healthy lifestyle is achieved through healthy eating and drinking, adequate rest and stress management, physical and spiritual exercise, abstinence from smoking, hygiene and sanitation. Indeed, a healthy lifestyle is by choice and not by chance,” he said.
Experts who participated at the symposium included conference chairman, Prof Emevwo Biakolo, former dean, School of Media and Communication, Pan Atlantic University, Lagos; Dr Henik F.J. Hendriks, Institute for Food and Nutrition, Netherlands; Tony Agenmonmen, Senior Strategy Manager, Nigerian Breweries Plc; Mrs Dolapo Coker, renowned Nutrition Consultant and former National President, Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology; Tola Atinmo, Professor of Human Nutrition, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Oyo State and consultant to FAO and the Government of Rwanda, on Food and Nutrition, and Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, lawyer and media personality.
Speaking on ‘Beer, women and healthy living,’ Dr Coker noted that special attention should be given to women, because they are classified as belonging to the ‘risk group.’ She explained: “In this group, micronutrient shortages are most likely to occur during their different stages of development. From adolescence, a woman should be well-nourished, both for their immediate development and for the future stress of child-bearing. Because of the monthly loss of blood, anaemia and calcium deficiency are common problems. As they grow older, they might have problem of arthritis and osteoporosis, where the bones become fragile. They need adequate intake of vitamins and minerals. Even if taken in small amounts, the effect of alcohol on women is more than on men. Women are more sensitive to alcohol. On the average, women are smaller than men, so equal measure of alcohol will give higher levels of concentration in her body and she might get tipsy. The average woman carries more body fat than the average man. Body fat contains little water that will otherwise dilute the alcohol, leaving a higher concentration in the woman’s body.”
Dr Coker advised women to cultivate the habit of eating “a balanced diet, drink a lot of water, then you can top it up with your beer and adopt a physical exercise regime, which is crucial to healthy living.”
Ebuka, who addressed the issue of ‘Beer and youth culture,’ said: “We are a generation of alcoholics, plain and simple. I doubt that the consumption of hard liquor has ever been higher in history than it is right now. It is cool to be able to afford bottles of expensive booze. It is even cooler to be able to finish endless bottles at a go. Then on top of that, the real heroes are the ones who mix Brandy and Champagne, Vodka and everything else in between - and are still able to stand. That is where we are these days. Sadly, I also don’t think we have had more young people suffer and die of heart, liver and kidney-related conditions than we have right now. More and more people are having cardiac arrests before 30. Livers are getting damaged more often these days. Everyone here without a doubt, knows someone who has either had a kidney transplant or is going to have one soon. Why have these diseases become so clear and present amongst young people these days?”
Ebuka then asked rhetorically: “Isn’t there a link between our newfound alcohol culture and the rise of internal organ damage? Leaving the audience to ponder over the question, he enthused that one of the health benefits of drinking beer in moderation is a healthier heart.”
The unique one-day beer and health symposium organised by Nigeria’s biggest brewer, focused mainly on telling the story of beer in relation to its health and nutritional properties. One of the most memorable instructions of the day, which was emphasised by each of the speakers, was that moderate drinking is key, while excessive consumption and abuse of beer should be avoided. The event had in attendance dignitaries from all walks of life as well as journalists, entertainers Nollywood stars.
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