Archive for the ‘Health’ Category
Monday, May 31st, 2010
By Micah Hanks
Tequila aficionados are no longer the only ones lauding the present over-abundance of Agave, a plant used in the distillation of the Southwestern liquor famously used in Margaritas (and hangovers). Now, the Agave plant has also been associated with beneficial prebiotic bacteria, according to a new study.
Researchers with Reading University and the National Autonomous University of Mexico suggest in the study that Agave displays prebiotic activity, as observed in samples of inulin extracted from the plant. The beneficial bacteria present in the samples, according to experts, may provide both a useful and cost-effective alternative to chicory inulin, which presently dominates the market. However, Inulin extracted from Agave tequilana managed to similarly boost levels of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, two bacteria that are commonly used in commercial inulins, as well as a host of other components.
Tuesday, April 13th, 2010
By Christopher McCollum
In a recently concluded study of more than 22,000 people, lead by Yangmei Li of Cambridge University, results have shown moderate drinkers who also smoke are almost two thirds more likely to have a stroke than their moderate drinking, non-smoking counterparts.
There have been a bounty of recent studies showing the moderate consumption of alcohol having positive affects on heart health, blood pressure and circulation, and bone density. Studies have also surfaced showing that alcohol appears to reduce stroke risk in individuals, and this study from Ms. Li seems to support that.
The results show that out of all the combinations of smokers and drinkers, the lowest risk of stroke came in the 7 – 14 drinks per week demographic, followed by 3 – 7 per week. Those who consume a fewer amount of drinks (0 – 3 per week) appear to be 31% more likely to succumb to a stroke, while those who drink the most (more than 28 drinks per week), are 75% more likely than those who average 1 to 2 drinks per day.
The smoking contingent of the study has another mixed bag of results, with non-drinking smokers being 32% more likely than our aforementioned moderate drinker, while the most at risk demographic were those who both smoke and drink, who are a staggering 218% more likely to suffer a stroke.
So with these results in mind, it looks like the healthiest vice to have is drinking, but in moderation of only 1 to 2 drinks per day. In relation to some of the previous studies that we have written about here at Culture of Spirits, it seems that a pint of Guinness alternated daily with a pint of an IPA, backed up with a glass of Champagne or red wine would be the logical choice to optimize the health benefits of some of our favorite beverages.
Until next time, sophisticated ones!
Tuesday, March 30th, 2010
By Micah Hanks
A new study appearing today at the Web MD site suggests there is a link between heavy drinking and people who consume lesser wholesome foods. Specifically, diets consisting of heavier alcohol intake appear to lack consistent (and recommended) amounts of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and milk, according to researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the National Cancer Institute, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Interviews performed by these agencies among 8,155 men and 7,715 women in the U.S. sought to learn about their individual drinking and dietary habits. The findings, reported in the April 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, suggest dangerous dietary habits are certainly more consistent among the more regular drinkers. Immediately, one must consider whether other factors, some of which are less obvious, might be contributing to such statistics; if so, what are they, and how might they influence trends that exist between alcohol consumption and the quality of foods being eaten by these individuals?
Sunday, March 14th, 2010
By Christopher McCollum
Greetings, Cultured ones! It’s been awhile since my last post, and for that, I am regretful. However, I am getting back into the swing of things, and will start it off right with an article for health conscious ladies around the world.
A recently concluded study from the Archives of Internal Medicine, conducted by Doctors associated with Divisions of Preventive Medicine and Aging, and Harvard School of Public Health has shown a correlation between moderate drinking and body shape. The results of the study come from a nearly 13 year study in which 19,220 women aged 39 or older were kept up with about once a year, with weight and alcohol consumption being provided by the participants.
What the researchers noticed at the conclusion of the study, is that women who imbibed light to moderate amounts of alcohol were found to have little to no weight gain, and a much decreased likelihood of becoming obese. Other mitigating factors were not included in the results, such as activity levels, diet, and family history. These test results are very interesting, and further studies should go into these women to see if the alcohol intake had any direct affect on them, or if it is just a coincidence.
It seems fairly unlikely, given all that we know about alcohol and calories, that these results actually have anything to do with alcohol, and instead it is pretty easy to assume that it just happens to be a facet of the already active lives of many women. A very interesting thing to know is the type of alcohol that these women in the study were imbibing in; Beer and it’s empty calories, or Red Wine and it’s already well known health benefits.
Perhaps a likely scenario is more of a social one than a health one, as cocktails and wine are imbibed at events by women who are already image conscious within their social circles. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to say. Until another study is done that provides more details about the alcohol aspect, we can do nothing but speculate. However, it must be heartening to us to learn that we are not guaranteed to gain weight from alcohol’s empty calories, as some would lead us to believe.
Sunday, February 14th, 2010
A new study conducted by researchers at the University of California-Davis has discovered that naturally occurring silicon found in malted barley and hops has bone strengthening qualities that can prevent the bone disease osteoporosis. The researchers have found that pale-colored beers, especially IPA’s, have the highest concentration of silicon due to the ingredients used and the brewing process.
While India Pale Ales have the highest concentration of silicon at an average of 41.2 milligrams per liter, wheat beers have the second lowest concentration at 18.9 mg/L, just above light beers at 17.2 mg/L.
This study adds to the list of things that beer is good for in the health of adults, lining up with blood pressure and heart disease. Although there do indeed appear to be notable benefits to drinking beer, it has to be stressed more than ever that the benefits only outweigh the negatives when consumed in moderation. Experts have not back down from their stance that one to two beverages a day should be the maximum consumption, however unrealistic that may sound to the drinking crowd. Just remember, as with most indulgences, too much is not a good thing.
So with osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and heart disease being combated by different types of beer, one has to wonder what the ultimate healthy beer would taste like. Taking a pale ale and a stout, then mixing them together into one concoction certainly doesn’t sound very appealing, but maybe a surprise is in order. Many stouts, of course, do contain some very fine roasted hops, but in order to get the bone strengthening silicon, it needs to be a pale ale, preferably an IPA.
What would this drink be called? A Pale Black? Has it been done before? I challenge you, dear readers, to give me your ideas for the ultimate health-conscious beer.
Until then, in the immortal words of the Most Interesting Man in the World, stay thirsty my friends.
Saturday, December 19th, 2009
By Christopher McCollum
Two evenings ago, Micah Hanks and myself were spending the evening interviewing brewers, and tasting beer. The following morning, there were 6 inches of snow on the ground. While we had seen the forecast that called for several inches of snow, we figured that, like usual with mountain weather reports, it was grossly over-exaggerated. Little did we know, we would receive what would become known within hours as the worst winter storm of the decade in this part of the country, and we would receive some 11 to 17 inches of snow in Asheville, within a 20 hour period.
As the afternoon went by at my house, one tree came crashing down in the backyard, missing the house by no more than 4 or 5 feet.
This led to a frantic next couple hours, with my roommate and I doing our best to knock snow off the lower branches of trees, trying to keep them from snapping and causing potential damage to the house. These frantic efforts relieved the stress on the trees and they rose back up to the sky, with hundreds of pounds of snow dropping to the ground, down our sleeves, and down the open collars of our coats. But fortunately, our power stayed on, even though thousands around the city were already flickering out.
We stayed inside, ate ham sandwiches and drank some beer, until 11:15pm. Right after the basketball game we were watching ended, the power finally flickered once and died, for the rest of the night. After gathering all the flashlights together, lighting some well placed candles, and watching the eerie scene out the window, of a bright snowscape that breathed beauty.
At around midnight, we finally decided that since we weren’t going to be going to sleep that early, we might as well make some cocktails. So we did it in the style of Culture of Spirits, with cutting boards, oranges, limes, lemons, tequila, bourbon, and vodka.
Sunday, December 13th, 2009
By Christopher McCollum
Over the years, Red Wine has developed the reputation as being a beverage beneficial to health, whether it be the ability to ward off Heart Disease and high blood pressure, or Cabernet Sauvignon’s specific reputed ability to ward of Alzheimer’s Disease, there have been many clinical studies that have suggested that moderate consumption of Red Wine is good for you. One of the major healthy elements are chemicals called polyphenols, which restrict the dissipation of nitric oxide in the blood stream, which in turn keeps blood pressure low, reduces the risk of strokes, as well as other heart problems. White wine has not shown the same positive properties, and before recently, Champagne was an unknown. British and French scientists have conducted studies that now show Champagne to be just as beneficial as Red Wine, carrying high levels of polyphenols that improve vascular performance and reduce the potential of the aforementioned diseases and conditions.
This is great news for Culture of Spirits, as many of our favorite libations include Champagne as the primary ingredient. In fact, just a couple evenings ago, Black Velvets were the order of the day, as Micah A. Hanks and myself enjoyed the the health benefits of a certain Irish Stout mixed half and half with Champagne. In addition to the Black Velvet, there’s also the Mimosa, which has obvious Vitamin C benefits, and also the Poinsettia, which has additional cranberry benefits of raising good cholesterol (HDL), reducing cancer risk, preventing bladder infections, and a variety of others including but not limited to oral health.
With the imminent dates of Christmas and New Year’s Eve nearly upon us, this is particularly good news, as Champagne becomes the ritualistic celebratory beverage of choice. Now when you raise that flute to the sky and make your toasts, you will also have the warm, bubbly knowledge that you’re lowering your risk of heart disease!
New Zealand Herald
World’s Healthiest Foods
Wednesday, December 9th, 2009
By Micah Hanks
Drink to your health!
It’s true… here is the news most guys out there have been sweating over: Beer, coffee are two beverages that studies link to prostate health among men. Exercise is a third non-liquid ingredient that experts recommend, but before you start sweating over the notion of physical activity, as little as fifteen minutes per-day will show expected results. eFitness Now gives us the scoop:
Studies now show that drinking coffee and beer with a normal exercise routine may be healthy habits for men after all. Men who workout at least 15 minutes a day and drinks more than 6 cups of coffee a day reduces their chances of getting prostate cancer by 19%. The same combination reduces the risk of men developing an aggressive form of prostate cancer by 41%.
Wednesday, November 25th, 2009
By Micah Hanks
With more than a decade in online coverage of cardiology, medical website TheHeart.org now reports that a study among Spanish citizens found that regular consumers of alcohol are less likely to suffer from coronary heart disease. “Spain is the world’s third largest wine producer and ninth largest beer producer,” the report says, according to Dr Larraitz Arriola with Spain’s Public Health Department located in Gipuzkoa. “In 2003, Spain was also in sixth position in the world ranking of alcohol consumption,” he says. Deaths resulting from coronary heart disease in Spain rank among the lowest in the world, along with countries like China, Switzerland, and France.
Studies linking alcohol consumption and heart conditions have been issued before in the past, although “There are numerous discussions regarding whether this association is causal or biased,” Arriola an his colleagues say. Questions including whether diet may also affect this, in addition to the specific types of alcohol were being consumed, and how the results varied according to gender are questions worthy of further inquiry.
Monday, October 5th, 2009
Something that is particularly enjoyable for me about the arrival of cool weather and the colorful change in seasons is getting to visit beer tastings here in USA’s Beer City (East) that feature one of my favorite seasonals: the pumpkin ale.
After a fairly slow rise in popularity, there are now a good variety of these available on the market, ranging from those offered by smaller crafters across the country, to more mainstream companies like Blue Moon, who offers their own Harvest Moon pumpkin ale for purveyors of the pulpy punkin pour.
Recently, Culture of Spirits writer Christopher McCollum joined my girlfriend, my younger brother, and I in attending a generous sampling of different pumpkin beers at our neighborhood brew supply shop Hops and Vines. Among the beers Alex, Chris, and the gang supplied us with, we tried an 8.0% ABV imperial pumpkin ale made by Weyerbacher, cited as “the mother of all pumpkin ales.” Indeed, Weyerbacher’s brew is spicier, more caramelly, and offers a bit more pronounced pumpkin flavor than many of the others. “We have added lots of pumpkin along with Cinnamon, Nutmeg and a touch of cardamom and clove giving this beer a spicy, full-bodied flavor,” the company’s website states. “This truly is an Imperial Pumpkin Ale.” Indeed, this was one of the most interesting pumpkin beers I’ve tried to-date, but there were a variety of others that presented spicier, more fruit-filled (or rather, vegetable-filled, since pumpkins are in the squash family) surprises.