This week I’m writing about that critical ingredient in sane parenting: beer. Not only is it mama’s nightly equilibrium enhancer, but this nectar is good for mama, too. Turns out that beer is the popcorn of beverages: economical, healthy, and an excellent mealtime complement, particularly when small children are underfoot.
In past Januaries, I’ve attempted the torture I call “beer fast.” Because I adore beer, and I drink five to seven pints per week, cutting out brewed calories often rids me of the extra pounds of sugar I pasted around my hips over the holidays. Beer fast works, kind of, although I rarely last longer than two weeks without beer. Wine just doesn’t compare and hard liquor makes me sicker.
This year, I’ve decided that beer fast isn’t the way to go. Not just because quaffing a beer relaxes me so I don’t whack my kids during “hell hour.” You know the hour when you’re trying to pull dinner together and the kids are tired, hungry and whiny, and there’s no way you’re all going to survive another minute without violence? That’s when the beer comes out. But also, I’ve been reading that beer, in moderation, is good for you. Like disease-prevention good for you.
The latest study, from Spain, suggests that the silicon content of beer may protect against the effects of aluminum buildup in the brain. Aluminum is a nasty neurotoxin that’s been linked to Alzheimer’s. The study, published in Food and Chemical Toxicology last month (great bedtime reading), reports that silicon in your digestive tract helps keep the aluminum from uploading into your bloodstream and traveling to your brain.
Silicon is a mineral found at high levels in grains such as oats, barley and rice (barley being a key ingredient in beer). It’s not the same as silicone, which can be found in cookware, breast implants, and anatomically correct, life-sized dolls.
The researchers, who hail from the University of Alcalá in Madrid, offer the caveat that consumption of alcoholic beverages must be limited and shouldn’t be promoted as a way of increasing certain nutrients (duh). They don’t mention its ability to increase numbness while cooking plain noodles for the 10th time in a week.
Another study from Tufts University showed that beer consumption protects bone density. Again, thank silicon. The high levels of silicon in beer increase the uptake of calcium and other minerals into bone tissue.
Another study (lots of folks seem to want beer to be healthy, don’t they?) touts the high levels of antioxidants, B6 and folate in beer, which can help protect against heart disease. Beer works a bit like my other favorite treat, chocolate, in that the darker the beer, the higher the levels of antioxidants. Recommended amounts tend toward one beer per mom per day and no more than two per dad. This is good, because two is all it takes to give mama a headache and a sour tummy, thus negating the positives.
We’ve got silicon, B6, folate, and antioxidants floating throughout the amber liquid of equilibrium. We have no fat or cholesterol. We do have carbs and alcohol. Although neither, in moderation, are inherently evil.
So, it seems that consuming beer can potentially help KO three persistent old-age ailments: Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis and heart disease. All this while protecting my kidlings against crazy mama. Clearly, beer is magic. Go beer!
And guess what? We live in Beerville, U.S.A. With all the excellent craft breweries, brewpubs and specialty beer sellers in the Asheville area, how could I not partake regularly? My favorite hell-hour spot is Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company—pizza and video games for the kids and locally brewed beer for parents. APBC almost turns hell hour into happy hour again.
Here’s a toast to the healthful and equilibrium-enhancing attributes of beer! Be gone, beer fast.
Anne Fitten Glenn is a freelance writer based in Asheville. She covers a number of topics (including parenting) on her blog, www.EdgyMama.com.