Beermance: Why Men Fall so Hard for BeerAlcohol
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
Like many of you, I was riveted by the testimonies in the recent U.S. Senate hearing to confirm a new Supreme Court Justice. At one point during the proceedings, I found myself wondering why a man would say he loves beer 30 times over the course of a few hours. And, as a woman, I began to wonder what about beer would generate such intense loyalty and enthusiasm among some men to where they can be as passionate about their “brew” as they are about their sports teams.
According to a recent poll, 62% of American men say beer is their preferred choice of an alcoholic beverage. So as it turns out, the love affair between men and their beer may be a bit complex. Men tend to enjoy beer more than women, and they may sometimes go on and on when extolling its virtues. And when you consider the psychological benefits that beer offers, it’s not surprising that men would love beer.
Why Men Love Their Beer?
Here are a few reasons:
- Male Bonding: One of the most common reasons that men love beer is that it plays a key role in male bonding and creating a sense of community. This socializing has been shown to release endorphins, which improve mood. Mood improvement is so powerful that one study showed that smiles are contagious in a group of men sitting around drinking alcohol. Interestingly, beer did not have a similar effect on women.
- Dopamine Rush: The ingredients in beer have been shown to release dopamine in the brain. This is the same chemical that helps give runners their “runners high” and that certain foods and activities release in a man’s (and a woman’s) brain. Apparently, hordenine, a substance present in beer, is able to stimulate a dopamine receptor and may cause a prolonged effect in the reward center of the brain. Once this link between drinking beer and feeling better is established, it usually remains for a long time. This would help explain why research shows that even smelling or tasting beer can trigger the release of dopamine which, in turn, can improve a man’s mood. As an added bonus, beer also tends to be high in vitamin B6, which helps the body produce serotonin, which is a mood stabilizer.
- Beer Buzz: Beer is usually lower in alcohol than other alcoholic beverages, so it takes a lot more to cross the line between having a “buzz” and getting drunk. This means that men can drink longer in a social setting, which most find appealing and attractive.
- Masculinity: If you ever wondered why men prefer beer over a wine spritzer, the answer is that beer is seen as “masculine” and “manly,” especially when compared to “girly drinks.” Do you think most men want to hold a strawberry daiquiri or a fruity drink with an umbrella? This masculine aspect of beer can be so compelling that some men will drink beer even if they don’t necessarily like the taste, in order to be perceived as “real men.” This link between masculinity and beer is reinforced in popular culture in any number of ways, but especially in advertising which often depicts men enjoying beer while at or watching a sporting event. A popular beer commercial circulating now stars rugged “Jurassic Park” star Chris Pratt.
- Justification of Drinking Behaviors: Since beer doesn’t pack the punch of “hard” alcohol, it is not seen as being as “bad” as other distilled beverages. How often have you heard someone respond to “Have you been drinking?” with the answer, “ I only had a couple of beers.” You very rarely will hear someone say,“I only had a few martinis.”
There are some reported health benefits of drinking beer in moderation. These include improved heart health and kidney function. It also has been said to help cognitive function and reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. One of the key ingredients in beer, called hops, has also been shown to be a powerful antioxidant, which is associated with brain protection. There are studies which suggest that having a few beers may increase creativity and problem solving. Memory has also been shown to benefit from beer. Drinking to the point of inebriation or drinking too frequently, however, does negate these benefits, so “I want to be more creative” or “I want to have better memory” won’t justify drinking beer in excess.
On the other hand, beer does have some health and physical drawbacks, some of which may be especially important for men to know about it. One is that hops, which also give beer flavor, contain high levels of plant estrogen, which is a female hormone. Drinking too much beer, according to some research, can promote the development of female physical characteristics, such as larger breasts. Maybe all this time, “man boobs” was really referring to “beer boobs!” It also can contribute to what is euphemistically called “brewer’s droop,” or erectile dysfunction. Some men also experience premature aging, sluggishness and the all-too-common beer belly. Too much brew can also damage the liver as well as other organs.
Other health issues from drinking too much beer may be the loss of critical nutrients, like water, vitamins, minerals, including iron, selenium and magnesium, which alcohol depletes from our bodies if we overdo it. Furthermore, people who drink heavily tend to have poorer diets, lacking nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables.
How to Enjoy Beer While Protecting Your Health
One of the important things to keep in mind when enjoying beer is the adage of “all things in moderation.” Some other suggestions include:
- Staying Hydrated: While beer can be quite refreshing, it, as does alcohol in general, promotes dehydration, which carries its own set of health risks. So, it’s important to have your beer with a water chaser and make sure that you keep your water intake adequate.
- Don't Mix Beer with Sports: Just as beer does, sports are a way that many men bond. Combining the two seems like the perfect combination, but there are health risks in doing so. The combo of the two could lead to accelerated dehydration from both drinking alcohol and sweating. It may also affect physical performance and cause a slower muscle recovery. And let’s face it, if you are feeling that beer buzz you may be more likely to injury yourself while playing that sport.
- Maximize Antioxidant Value: The more hops used in the beer, the more antioxidants there are. Also, be careful with “light” beers, which may be higher in calories and carbohydrates then you may think.
The bottom line is that the love affair between men and their beer is not going to end and nor should it. There are many social and perhaps health advantages of sharing a brew with your buddies. But if you drink beer, think about doing it in moderation and be proactive about maximizing the benefits and minimizing the risks.
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.