Beer – the new medicine? Research shows how the nation's much-loved drink can protect our brains against disease

 
Sarah Spickernell
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The healthy compound comes from hops - the flowers used to flavour beer (Source: Getty)

Cheers, beer-drinkers – we have some good news for you.

The cool, refreshing beverage doesn't just bring moments of happiness to millions of people at the end, or indeed the middle, of a hard-working day – it also protects our brains against diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
It turns out a certain chemical in hops, the flower used to give beer its bitter and tangy flavour, protects against the degeneration of brain tissue and so keeps our minds in tip-top condition.
Called xanthohumol, it stops oxidation taking place – this is the process by which too much oxygen damages cells, and mounting evidence suggests that it is a major contributing factor to the development of diseases that originate in the brain.
If xanthohumol is present, then oxidation is less likely, and so too are the diseases caused by it. Not only that, but the compound is known to be able to protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease.
The discovery was made by a team of scientists (whose hard work we very much appreciate) in China, and the results have been published by the American Chemical Society.
We've already heard time and time again that wine can be good for us in small amounts, so it's about time those preferring its barley-based cousin had a dose of good news.
So next time you're nursing a pint down at the pub, you'll have a new, extra reason to toast.

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