Non-alcoholic beer seems to be a great alternative when it comes to staying sober, and there are often circumstances that require that. Let’s say you have to drive home after a large picnic with friends, but you don’t want to avoid drinking completely. Someone carries a baby under one’s heart and, as taste preferences really change during this time, a sip of beer becomes so desirable that not having it really makes life worse. For example, someone struggling with alcoholic dependence or trying to get rid of an increasingly large beer belly.
One way or another, the option to have a non-alcoholic beer is taken. It seems to have the same taste, but without doing substantial harm to your health like actual alcohol. Right? Well, let’s take a look at some common myths about non-alcoholic beer.
Myth #1 — the most important: Alcoholic beer is more dangerous than non-alcoholic beer
This isn’t true. To find out why, it’s enough to simply examine the ingredients of both. In a best-case scenario, you’ll see that the contents are completely the same. At worst, the manipulation of the technology for producing non-alcoholic beer causes manufacturers to add various taste additives and stabilizers. On the label of non-alcoholic beer, you can see information about its alcoholic content. It’s usually not equal to zero, as non-alcoholic beer can contain up to 0.5% of alcohol — still less than regular beer though.
Nevertheless, to be fair we should add that non-alcoholic beer contains less alcohol than Kvass (0.7%-2.6%) and Kefir (up to 0.9%). Such low content of spirits isn’t particularly harmful to the body, unless you drink Kvass or Kefir to the extent that often happens with regular beer. Most things are okay in moderation, and numerous studies show that quality wine, as well as moderate beer consumption, are actually healthy for the body. Unfortunately, moderation is not always observed when it comes to drinking.
Myth #2: Non-alcoholic beer doesn’t cause alcohol dependence
Busting this myth should start from the fact that virtually no beer is completely free of alcohol. As it contains small amounts of alcohol, it does have an effect on the body by influencing the level of dopamine in the blood. Dopamine is a neuro-mediator that activates the pleasure centers of the brain.
Researchers from the medical faculty at Indiana University demonstrated that even the mere taste of beer alone can stimulate the production of dopamine, thus people can still become addicted to the brain-fog and pleasurable experience it brings.
The situation with low-alcohol beer is worse because people from various social groups become accustomed to drinking it, e.g. adolescents and those trying to quit drinking. Both have violated the mechanisms responsible for alcohol tolerance. After sipping a “non-alcoholic” beer and feeling a light dizziness effect, people are often drawn to amplifying this effect and typically move to alcoholic beer or even stronger liquor.
Myth #3: Non-alcoholic beer does not cause the same diseases as alcoholic beer
This popular misconception concerns the cardiovascular system as the primary victim. People believe that moderate doses of alcohol are good for the heart, as there appears to be a decreased risk of ischemic disease among moderate drinkers. This is true for alcohol-containing beverages like beer and quality wine. Consumption of non-alcoholic beer does not play any part in improving heart function, and abuse of this beverage can even be fatal. One should know that both non-alcoholic beer and alcoholic beer are absorbed by the human body fast and a large amount of alcohol can provoke varicose veins and enlargement of the heart.
The effect of non-alcoholic beer on our overall hormonal levels is equals to the effect of alcoholic beer. They both depress production of testosterone (a fundamental male hormone) and provoke the growth of fatty tissue.
The most sensational result of the research about the influence of non-alcoholic beer on the human body is that non-alcoholic beer is an anti-cancer remedy. Scientists from Japan conducted an experiment on two groups of mice. They fed one with plain water and the other with non-alcoholic beer, and then injected cancer-provoking agents into their bodies. The mice that were given water developed cancer more quickly than the mice that were given non-alcoholic beer.
Myth #4: Non-alcoholic beer is OK for pregnant women and drivers
Well, although they can drink it, they shouldn’t — the same case as regular beer. Some doctors believe that pregnant women are better off drinking 0.33 centiliters of ordinary alcoholic beer than non-alcoholic beer, if the desire to drink is overwhelming. As already mentioned, non-alcoholic beer contains a small amount of alcohol too and may also contain some harmful (unnatural) preservatives and dyes that can be endanger the body.
As for drivers, they should know that the smell from drinking non-alcoholic beer may still cause problems with police officers, and an breath test will likely show more than zero content of alcohol in the blood. The same goes for a glass of Kefir or Kvass, so please take that into consideration.