Ok, by now you’ve all probably seen the study that was released yesterday linking beer drinking to improved marathon recovery. If you’ve been under a rock and haven’t heard about it, check out one article from the NY Times blog here.
The catch? It was non-alcoholic beer that they studied. Apparently they wanted to study the polyphenols in beer, but were worried that the negative effects of alcoholic beer (read: hangover) would cancel out what they presumed would be the positive effects of the polyphenols. I don’t get this quote from the article: “Furthermore, it is not possible to drink one to one and a half liters of alcoholic beer per day, especially not during strenuous training.” I believe that is the equivalent of 3 pints of beer a day. While that probably isn’t ideal during strenuous training, I know many a runner who could take on that challenge and do well in a marathon!
What are these polyphenals? They are a chemical substance found in many plants that, among other things, “suppress viral replication” and “influence the innate immune system positively,” which are all beneficial for fighting off a cold.
Anyway, they apparently had a bunch of runners in their early 40’s who were training for the Munich Marathon to participate in the study and drink 2-3 pints of non-alcoholic beer a day during the 3 weeks of taper and 2 weeks post-marathon. They had a control group drinking a placebo (read: fake, fake beer).
The results: those runners that drank the beer:
- Reported far fewer illnesses (upper respiratory infections)
- Had significantly less inflammation
- Had markers of a better immune system