Wednesday, June 19, 2013

"Manly" Drinks & Your Dental Health - Beer

Beer is one of those things like red wine -- it's great for you in moderation, but bad in large amounts. Beer may not have the heart-protecting Resveratrol that makes red wine so popular, but it does have something that few other foods have in great quantities; dietary silicon. Yes, the human body uses silicon to help grow and firm up your bones.

If you're a menopausal woman worried about osteoporosis, for example, drinking a less-processed beer like ale (as opposed to a lager) every day can do huge amounts to keep your bones strong. Beer also has a surprising amount of bioavailable calcium, though nothing like a glass of fresh milk.

On the other hand, for your oral health, beer isn't the best thing to finish a meal with. Beer is acidic, much like cola, and has similar -- if weaker -- effects. To put a technical side on it, acids start demineralizing your tooth enamel at a pH of about 5.5. Coke comes in at a very acidic 2.5. Depending on the darkness of the malt, beer can check in around 5.4 for a weak brew like Budweiser all the way down to 3.2 for a true sour like Rodenbach Grand Cru.

Beer, however, compounds the acidity problem by adding alcohol and sugars to the mix. If you think about it, beer is created by bacteria that consume the barley and hops, fermenting it and turning it into alcohol. Of course, then, it's a great environment for bacteria to grow in, especially once it gets warm in the mouth. Now, not much beer remains in the mouth for hours at a time, but on the molecular level, if it's the last thing you eat or drink before you start working or get otherwise distracted, the alcohol and sugar that's left behind will promote the growth of 'bad' oral bacteria quite readily.

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