Leave it to a college student to turn beer into a health food.
A student from the National University of Singapore (NUS) spent nine months creating a beer that contains the probiotic lactobacillus paracasei L26, which offers a host of health perks.
Researchers from NUS wanted to expand the traditional choices for getting probiotics in the public’s diet. Currently, dairy is the primary source for this “good” bacteria, and for many people, dairy isn’t an option (about 65 percent of human adults are lactose intolerant to some degree).
Beer might be a more effective way to introduce probiotics to adults.
Alcine Chane, a food science and technology student, chose to focus on beer as part of her studies. Chane set out to produce a craft beer that could act as an alternative source of probiotics.
Her brew contains a billion units of probiotics per three ounces of beer. For comparison, the recommended daily amount is 250 million units, according to the Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics.
Probiotics have a number of positive effects on health, particularly in the digestive system. A properly balanced gut biome can reduce diarrhea, improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, and help manage various types of infections. Good bacteria can also strengthen the immune system, reduce allergies in children, and prevent brain disease.
Keeping probiotics alive requires a delicate touch.
The goal of the project was to create a good-tasting, unpasteurized, and unfiltered beer. The pasteurization and filtering process would have killed the good bacteria, so Chane decided to use old-fashioned methods.
She told the New York Post:
“For this beer, we used a lactic acid bacterium as a probiotic microorganism. It will utilize 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.”
Chane’s supervisor, Liu Shao-Quan, worked with Chane to create the probiotic brew. Professor Liu believes that consumers will respond favorably to her and Chane’s creation—if the drink ever comes to market.
“The general health benefits associated with consuming food and beverages with probiotic strains have driven demand dramatically,” Liu said. “In recent years, consumption of craft or specialty beers has gained popularity too. Alcine’s invention is placed in a unique position that caters to these two trends.”
Of course, beer does not typically rank as a healthy beverage. Overconsumption of alcohol can cause pancreatitis, liver damage, and cancer. Given the high dose of probiotics in just 3 ounces of Chane’s beer, however, drinking in moderation still benefits the health of the beer drinker.
The unusual health benefit combined with the finely crafted taste could make Chane’s creation a hit. We’re guessing that the beverage will do especially well on college campuses where students might look for a healthy way to drink (again, we stress that binge drinking is never healthy).
“I am confident that the probiotic gut-friendly beer will be well-received by beer drinkers, as they can now enjoy their beers and be healthy,” Liu said.