A glass or two of beer can strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis, a disorder characterised by weak and brittle bones, the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture (JSFA) reported on Monday, but experts say the amount you have is critical.
More than 500 ml a day can cause fractures and aggravate other chronic diseases associated with age, such as heart disease and diabetes.
According to WHO, one in two women and one in three men in India over the age of 50 have low bone mass, which can lead to debilitating fractures in later life.
The new JSFA study supports previous research —such as a study from Spain in the journal Nutrition in August, 2009 — that found high level of silicon in beer slowed bone loss that led to fractures and boosted the formation of new bone.
Silicon is present in beer in the soluble form of orthosilicic acid, up to half of which can be absorbed by the body making beer a major contributor to silicon intake. Lighter beers brewed with a greater use of hops — a bittering agent that adds flavour and stability in beer — have the most silicon as the extra heat used in malting darker beers destroys some of it.
These studies, however, should not prompt you to hit the beer bars tonight.
“It’s far healthier to drink milk. With alcohol, the amount is the key and one unit — 500 ml of beer, 30 ml of whisky — is good, two units are acceptable. Anything more make bones brittle ... apart from aggravating other chronic diseases,” said Dr Ambrish Mithal, senior consultant endocrinologist, Apollo Hospitals and Medanta-the Medicity.
“Apart from calcium and Vitamin D supplementation, bones can be strengthened by increasing calcium intake by including milk and its products, soya and its products, broccoli, mustard greens, turnip greens, millet), cabbage, salmon, canned sardines, shellfish, almonds, dried beans and amaranth in the diet,” said nutritionist Ishi Khosla, director, WholeFoods.