It’s National Beer Day, and many of our pint-loving friends are enjoying a glass of their favorite brew – at home, of course.
While studies show that beer has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years, grabbing a bottle of your favorite lager on the daily isn’t that great for our health.
Here are some of the ways that long-term beer drinking can harm our bodies.
#1: Beer Can Cause Weight Gain
That infamous beer belly is more than a myth.
Beer can be very high in calories, depending on the type you buy and the number of bottles you drink – according to Nutritionix, one 12-ounce bottle of Stella Artois has 153 calories! Drinking multiple bottles of beer per day can add a significant number of calories to your diet, and excess calories cause weight gain.
Plus, some experts suggest that drinking beer on a regular basis can prevent your body from burning stored fat. This is because your body prioritizes breaking down harmful substances, like alcohol, over fat – and long-term beer consumption can lead to excess fat building up on your body over time.
#2: Drinking Beer Raises Your Glucose Levels
If you have diabetes or prediabetes, drinking too much beer could have an impact on your blood sugar levels – working hand-in-hand with its impact on your pancreas.
Since beer is made from barley, which is a grain, it is very high in carbohydrates – according to Nutritionix, one 12-ounce bottle of Coors Banquet contains 12 grams of carbs.
The more bottles you drink, the more carbs you consume. The more carbs you drink, the more glucose enters your bloodstream – leading to a blood sugar spike.
Frequent blood sugar spikes can raise your baseline blood sugar over time, which can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes. If you have diabetes, drinking too many carbs in a short period of time can raise your risk of developing hyperglycemia.
#3: Beer Consumption Can Harm Blood Sugar Control
According to Healthline, long-term alcohol consumption can harm your liver and your pancreas – two incredibly important organs necessary for insulin production and blood sugar control.
Insulin is a hormone that helps move glucose molecules from your bloodstream into your cells, so the cells can convert the glucose to use as energy. The pancreas produces insulin, while the liver stores excess sugar for your body to use when you need the energy.
Heavy beer drinking can lead to damage to both your pancreas and your liver. Since a damaged liver can’t function normally, your body won’t receive the stored glucose you need – leading to a higher risk of hypoglycemia, or dangerously low blood sugar.
If your pancreas is damaged and cannot function properly, your body will fail to produce enough insulin to move your glucose from your blood into your cells – which can cause hyperglycemia, or dangerously high blood sugar.
#4: Long Term Beer Drinking Can Lead to Liver Damage
Possibly the most well-known consequence of long-term alcohol consumption is liver damage. Our liver is the organ that is responsible for removing toxic substances, like alcohol, from our bodies.
If we drink heavily, the liver has to work constantly to remove beer from our system – and it can become damaged, inflamed, and swollen over time. In severe cases of alcohol abuse, you might develop cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver.
If your liver isn’t functioning, many bodily processes are affected – you may experience a loss of brain function due to toxin build-up in the blood, high blood pressure in your liver, and permanent loss of liver function.
How Much Beer Is Safe to Drink?
The effects that heavy drinking can have on your body expand past your blood sugar and liver – you may also experience an increased risk for heart disease, a weakened immune system, damage to your digestive system, and many other issues.
While the negative impacts of alcohol are apparent through extensive research, it is safe to have a beer – every once in a while.
The American Heart Association recommends that we drink in moderation – less than one drink per day for women, and less than two drinks per day for men. For beer, one 12-ounce serving of your favorite brew counts as one drink.
Drinking alcohol heavily on a regular basis can lead to significant health consequences. For celebratory days like today, remember to enjoy beer in moderation – a bottle or two should be enough!