As is commonly known, throughout history there have been times when beer was a more salubrious potation than the water of a given region. Reasons for this abound, the most common being E. coli and other such contaminants found in untreated drinking water. Beer, on the other hand, utilizes boiling in the fermentation process and hence contains a more purified liquid. This, in essence, made the final product the healthiest option for quenching one’s thirst in those troubled times of yore.
In our day and age (at least in the more developed parts of the world), the vast majority of publicly-available water is treated in some way or another and generally does not get people sick. Nonetheless, even in absence of a pressing need for potable hydration, the health effects of alcohol have been rigorously studied and regular consumption is found to have undeniable benefits. Not being a doctor, my understanding is that the booze helps improve circulation and/or heart health, improving one’s general well being. More comprehensible to the non-scientist layperson is a study reported by Time magazine showing heavy drinkers actually live longer than people who abstain from alcohol. The researchers point to primarily social reasons for this finding: drinkers are drunker, and thus happier and more social than abstainers, and this helps us stay healthy.
So we can conclude beer is healthy both for physiological and social reasons. But if one is fortunate enough to have a supply of purified water available, is beer still the more wholesome choice? A couple years ago a study came out showing that beer actually hydrates people more effectively after heavy exercise than water. The Granada University researchers had participants repeatedly run around in 100+ degree temperatures over a period of about three months. Half the participants got water after each exercise session, and half got beer. The results? Beer drinkers enjoyed more effective rehydration from their beverages than the water drinkers.
It’s official: beer is healthier than water. Yet another reason to keep drinking. A glass of wine a day helps your heart. Grandpa’s famous cough medicine (read: whiskey) is a great way to fight back acute coryza. And beer hydrates more effectively than water. So be sure and head to the nearest bar after your next fun run to replenish your body’s water supply — rather than wasting time with low-pressure drinking fountains, those stupid paper cups or your buddy’s Klean Kanteen. (Phew!)