Three men at a bar drink beerShare on Pinterest
Researchers say beer can help diversify the gut microbiome. The Good Brigade/Getty Images
  • Researchers say a beer a day, whether it’s alcoholic or nonalcoholic, can help diversify men’s gut microbiome.
  • Experts say while gut diversity is generally beneficial, what type of bacteria is flourishing is also important.
  • They note that kimchi, sauerkraut, ginger, onions, and garlic are also microbiome-building foods.

A beer a day might keep your gut flora healthy, new research suggests.

Researchers report that 22 healthy men who drank 330 ml — around 12 oz — of alcoholic or nonalcoholic lager beer daily for four weeks had greater bacterial diversity in their gut microbiome and better markers of intestinal health than they did before the beginning of the study.

Moreover, a single daily beer did not appear to increase body weight, body fat mass, or other negative cardio metabolic markers, according to the study that appears in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Your gut microbiome is crucial for your health, and prior research suggests that a diverse gut is often a healthy one, although not always.

“Diversity in and of itself isn’t necessarily good or bad,” said Dr. Vincent B. Young, a professor at Michigan State University’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology. “All that means is that you have lots of different kinds of microbes there. Diversity increases the chances perhaps that you have ‘good’ microbes present, but you can have a diverse microbiota that is lacking a critical function. That is the key thing. It isn’t just what is there, but what they are doing.”

However, researchers have said in the past that they have at least some inkling of what these bacteria are doing.

In a 2015 study, researchers said they observed an increase in fecal alkaline phosphatase activity, a deficiency of which appears to “increase the risk of disease through changes in the microbiome, increased intestinal inflammation and permeability thereby leading to systemic inflammation and potentially sepsis.”

However, it might be difficult to draw firm conclusions from this study because of its size and the fact that so much about the microbiome is still unknown.

“Our understanding of the population of the microbiome in the gut is just like having a telescope on the moon and looking at the people on Earth and asking, ‘What is the role of each individual in their family in their environment and their personality?’” Dr. Ashkan Farhadi, a gastroenterologist at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, told Healthline. “Our understanding is so crude.”

“One thing we know is [drinking beer] increased diversity, and we know many diseases reduce diversity,” he added. “We see a lack of proliferation and diversity of germs in association with many conditions, systemic as well as gut conditions. So diversity, in general, is typically a good sign, but I don’t read more than that into it.”

While you shouldn’t necessarily start slamming beers to increase gut health, if you enjoy the taste and want the most healthful option, researchers say drink nonalcoholic beer, which is just as beneficial to the gut as the alcoholic version.

Other microbiome-building foods include kimchi, sauerkraut, ginger, onions, and garlic.

But like with drinking alcohol, moderation is key here, too.

“Too much probiotic or prebiotic food can result in a lot of germs flourishing in the gut, and that may result in bloating because these bacteria are making a lot of gas from all the nutrients they are receiving,” Farhadi explained. “It can be a double-edged sword in that sense. So moderation is the key, particularly when our science is lagging behind all the actual things that are happening in your gut.”