Beer Good For Our Brains: Chemical In Beer Prevents Alzheimer's And Parkinson’s

Scientists have confirmed what men claimed all along – beer is good for your brain.

A group of Chinese scientists have determined what you always knew deep down in your heart: Beer is good for the brain. The beer draws its superpowers from hops, the female flowers of the hop plant Humulus lupulus, which are used primarily as a flavoring and stability agent in beer. However, apart from contributing to the signature taste of the beer, hops releases a chemical -- Xanthohumol -- that has the potential to fight off neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

Xanthohumol, commonly referred to as Xn, has successfully fought off cell damage that could have ruined the brain. Though wine may have been touted as the great protector and healer of cells in the old age, Xn has been previously proven to fend off cancer, viruses, obesity, and inflammation. Its brain-boosting benefits though haven't been seriously studied — until now.

Five scientists (Juan Yao, Baoxin Zhang, Chunpo Ge, Shoujiao Peng, and Jianguo Feng) isolated the compound and tested its effects on cells from rats. They observed a "previously unrecognized mechanism underlying the biological action of Xn," which suggests that Xanthohumol "might be a potential candidate for the prevention of neurodegenerative disorders."

The study, recently published in the American Chemical Society's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, indicates Xn can not only fight free radicals but also jump-start signaling and protect cells from neurotoxicity. In simpler terms, it helps maintain the spark in the brain. These "sparks" are the signals that are fired by the brain cells in between various sections of the cerebrum.

So how much beer is good for you? That's the all-important question, the scientists explain. As with everything in nature, moderation is the key, they caution. Drink traditionally-made organic beer with no artificially added alcohol. These naturally alcoholic beers have the optimum amount of Xn that is beneficial to the brain.

Hops have been used in Chinese medicine for centuries. However, its efficacy to prevent Alzheimer's and Parkinson's was discovered only recently. Neuronal cells — which are in the brain, spine, and nerves — are in limited supply over one's lifetime. These cells are especially susceptible to stress. This stress is thought to be one of the ways brain-related disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's begin.

As all men know, beer is known to relieve stress. Though that is not how the beverage fends off the diseases of the brain, this study helps justify raising that pint more often.

[Image Credit | Birgitkorber/Getty Images]