As if anyone needed any excuse to drink more beer, a team of researchers have managed to produce an alcoholic beverage that also contains probiotics. In a novel breakthrough, they claim that the beer could help improve gut health and immunity, though the science is still out on that last one.
There are plenty of dairy-based probiotics, but currently there are no beers that also contain probiotics, mainly because beer contains something known as hop acids, which limit the growth and survival of potential probiotics. This spurred the researchers at the National University of Singapore to see if they could manage it.
They succeeded in developing a sour beer that can support the probiotic strain known as Lactobacillus paracasei L26. This particular probiotic is already found in the human gut, and there is some evidence that it might be able to regulate the immune system.
“For this beer, we used a lactic acid bacterium as a probiotic microorganism,” explains Chan Mei Zhi Alcine, who developed the beer, in a statement. “It will utilise sugars present in the wort to produce sour-tasting lactic acid, resulting in a beer with sharp and tart flavors. The final product, which takes around a month to brew, has an alcohol content of about 3.5 percent.”
The evidence on whether or not we should be taking probiotics is mixed. Some doctors recommend taking them if you are also taking heavy doses of antibiotics, in order to protect your gut bacteria and hopefully prevent diarrhea. It may also help reduce the risk of developing Clostridium difficile infection, and may help in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome, amongst other ailments.
While it might be beneficial for people with health problems to take probiotics, the evidence is far less settled when it comes to healthy individuals. The researchers say that the new beer could help “boost immunity”, but this has been a contentious assertion. In 2011, the European Food Safety Authority found that these claims were unsupported by science, and actually banned companies from making such claims.
Either way, with the recent and expansive growth of the craft beer market, there is sure to be a market for the probiotic beer. The researchers have already taken out a patent on their discovery to stop others from copying their recipe, and they hope to eventually produce the beer commercially.