Non-alcoholic wheat beer promotes health

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Non-alcoholic wheat beer promotes the health of athletes and protects against infections

Active athletes have always guessed it: the daily enjoyment of wheat beer after sport protects and activates health. However, the drink should be alcohol-free, as researchers at the Technical University of Munich found for preventive and rehabilitative sports medicine. Regular consumption reduces the development of inflammation, supports the immune system and has a preventive effect against influenza infections. A glass of wheat beer is an ideal drink after sport.

Typical infections after top athletic performance
In the largest international marathon study “Be-MaGIC” (beer, marathon, genetics, inflammation and the cardiovascular system), sports doctors at the Technical University of Munich were able to show that non-alcoholic wheat beer has a positive effect on the body of athletes. The study showed that, in particular, herbal active ingredients called polyphenols were able to reduce infections and disease risks, such as may occur in athletes after strenuous peak performance. Under the direction of Dr. Johannes Scherr from the TUM Chair for Preventive and Rehabilitative Sports Medicine examined doctors from the Klinikum rechts der Isar at the TU Munich 277 study participants three weeks before and two weeks after the big marathon in Munich in 2009.

Participants drank 1.5 liters of wheat beer a day
The participants were divided into two equal groups. While one group drank one to 1.5 liters of non-alcoholic wheat beer a day, the other group received a drink without active ingredient (placebo). The test drink differed significantly by the factor polyphenols. The participants were selected at random and assigned to the respective test groups according to the randomized standards. This means that neither the accompanying sports physicians nor the group participants knew which group they were in.

Herbal wonder substances polyphenols
The main focus of the study was primarily the health risks of running a marathon and the effective effects of aromatic compounds, so-called polyphenols. Polyphenols are aroma compounds and count as secondary plant substances. Naturally occurring polyphenols occur in plants as bioactive substances such as colors, flavors and tannins. They protect the plants from external influences and are antioxidative. Due to the filtering of high-energy UVB radiation, some plants serve as protection for the photosynthesis complex. Many of the polyphenols are considered health-promoting. Plants that have a high proportion are, for example, apple berries, grapes, mangoes, ginkgo, tea, rock roses and in the Asian lemon balm. In addition, polyphenols (flavonoids) are extracted from the bark of pine and from larch wood for medical and naturopathic use. Several studies had already found a protective effect, especially against cancer tumors. The Munich marathon study examined for the first time worldwide the combination of different polyphenols as contained in beer in a large number of test subjects.

Marathon running provoked inflammation and weakened the immune system
At first, the evaluated study data showed that a marathon runs on the strength of the body. Increased inflammatory reactions were found in the runners. The body's defense system suffered from the exertion and the athletes increasingly complained of colds and infections of the upper arm ways. However, these observations are nothing new and are also referred to as "open windows" in sports medicine. A significantly lower inflammatory reaction in the blood picture was found in the group of wheat beer drinkers. In addition, infectious diseases occurred significantly less often, and if so, with significantly fewer symptoms. "Examination of the white blood cells, which are one of the most important parameters for inflammation, showed that the test group had 20 percent lower values ​​than the comparison group," explained Dr. Johannes Scherr. The plant substances contained in beer could therefore also strengthen the immune system. The researchers were able to determine that the test drink had a balancing effect on the immune system. "We were able to demonstrate that an immune system weakened by physical stress is strengthened." An excessive system, however, was slowed down significantly.

Lower susceptibility to colds
If the runners drank wheat beer, they were three times less susceptible to colds than the comparison group. “If you drink the non-alcoholic test drink, your risk is reduced to a third that you will get a cold.” It was striking that the cold beer test subjects had a much smaller cold than others. Overall, the infections were milder and shorter.

Surprisingly positive results
The scientists rated their study as a success. In several scientific studies, the positive effects of polyphenol on athletes could be demonstrated, “nevertheless, we were sometimes surprised by how clear the result was. We have now scientifically confirmed the assumptions for the drink examined with its special mixture of polyphenols, vitamins and minerals. ”The researchers emphasized that the study was carried out according to purely scientific standards, although the brewery company“ Erdinger Weißbräu ”supported the study financially. All data were randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled. The results will be presented at the world's largest sports medicine convention in the United States. In January 2012, the study will be published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (MSSE). (sb)

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Image: Wandersmann /

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