Wearing Green…..

… Beer Goggles

St Patrick's Day shenanigans

St Patrick’s Day shenanigans

Celebrating St Patrick’s Day on 17 March always includes wearing green and drinking (green) beer. The celebration is synonymous with shamrocks, leprechauns and Guinness beer from the emerald island of Ireland. The oldest distillery of whiskey, Bushmills, was founded in 1608 in County Antrim, Northern Ireland and Guinness Stout Beer in 1759 in Dublin, Ireland.

Nutrition facts for Guinness Beer. Courtesy: http://www.guinness.com/en-us/thebeer-process-ingredients.html

Nutrition facts for Guinness Beer. Courtesy: http://www.guinness.com/en-us/thebeer-process-ingredients.html

Drinking beer dates back to the 5th millennium BC. Today, the 2014 forecast for beer revenue according to Beer: Global Industry Guide is over $496, 614 million from 160,319.8 million liters sold worldwide.

The multi-million dollar beer sales show it may even have an impact on human health. Though wine has always been thought of to be a more healthy conscious choice, beer has some nutritional advantages. Beer contains more proteins and B vitamins than wine. The antioxidant content of beer is equivalent to that of wine, but the specific antioxidants are different because the barley and hops used in the production of beer contain flavonoids different from those in the grapes used in the production of wine. There is no evidence to support one type of alcoholic beverage over another for health benefits. (1,2)

Studies evaluating the benefits of wine, beer or spirits suggest that moderate* consumption of any alcoholic beverage is associated with lower incidence of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, some cancer and diabetes.

Standard drink chart. Courtesy of http://www.completefitness.com.au

Standard drink chart. Courtesy of http://www.completefitness.com.au

Since the main ingredients for alcoholic beverages are plant derived such as grapes for wine and barley and hops for beer, phytochemicals have been discovered beneficial to human health such as quercetin, catechin or resveratrol in red wine or flavonoids** in beer that possess anti-oxidant properties. The barley and hops used in the beer fermentation process provides beta-glucans, or bran fiber and minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and vitamin B12. These are the main active compounds in current studies’ research objective that show to have a positive effect against chronic diseases in human health.

Anti-oxidant **Flavonoids-

  • Quercetin (a flavonol in vegetables, fruit skins, onions)
  • Xanthohumol (a prenylated chalcone in hops and beer)
  • Isoxanthohumol (a prenylated chalcone in hops and beer)

To read more about how beer can help your health.

**Moderate drinking (1 drink/day for women and 2 drinks/day for men)


1. Denke M., Nutritional and health benefits of beer. Am J Med Sci. (2000) Nov;320(5):320-6.

2. Arranz, Sara et al. “Wine, Beer, Alcohol and Polyphenols on Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer.” Nutrients 4.7 (2012): 759–781.


Littera… Litteratus… Literacy

Does all this information add up to knowledge?

Does all this information add up to knowledge?

When information is limited to 30sec soundbites or 140 characters, its difficult to accurately convey necessary knowledge en masse.  Whether it is found in social media platforms or in peer-reviewed journals, the outlet targets a specific type of reader and they are not one and the same. Therefore, the public’s general knowledge on specific topics eg. science issues, are limited. For example, are foods safe to eat when grown with pesticides? Do you need to eat a multi-vitamin supplement? A wide space of information is lacking for the public to understand the benefits or the detrimental effects of scientific topics such as fracking, world population, or prevention of non-communicable diseases (cardiovascular disease, diabetes etc). A Pew Research study show 40% difference between the public’s opinion and scientists in the safety of eating foods grown with pesticides.

Despite multiple public health campaigns for smoking cessation or lowering heart disease, the sales profit in the tobacco industry still flourishes and the increased consumption of fruits and vegetables are not seen in the school canteen or the most popular ordered item on a restaurant menu. We don’t hear about the next “it” restaurant opening serving braised kohlrabi and flax. The average American only eats one fruit and one or two vegetables a day which is substantially lower than the recommended 5/day or the “at least 8” servings of fruits and vegetables touted by some current researchers. The average UK adult eats 4 portions of fruits and vegetables.

Improved behaviours are documented as a result of intervention studies -where an action is taken to improve a situation-  are dependent of varying degrees of intervention intensity  either via primary care givers or community support. Interventions by the way of primary care were more effective for smoking cessation when compared with diet and physical activities using community support group intervention methods. Information to a specific targeted group whether it is focused for pregnant women, men with gray hair or diabetic children should be clear and concise. BUT the onus of comprehending the information and taking action is upon each individual because no matter how many pictures or recipes for kohlrabi* are shown, it does not translate to a greater consumption of the vegetable. TAKE ACTION!






Leshner AI. Bridging the opinion gap. Science 30 January 2015: 459.



Taggart J, Williams A, Dennis S, Newall A, Shortus T, Zwar N, Denney-Wilson E, Harris MF. A systematic review of interventions in primary care to improve health literacy for chronic disease behavioral risk factors. BMC Fam Pract. 2012 Jun 1;13:49.