Nonalcoholic Beer Reduces Inflammation and Incidence of Respiratory Tract Illness.

Scherr J, Neiman DC, Schuster T, Habermann J, Rank M, Braun S, Pressler A, Wolfarth B, and Halle M. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 Jan;44(1):18-26. 

Long duration, strenuous exercise, such as marathon running, has been shown to increase the incidence of upper respiratory tract illness (URTI). Other research regarding nutritional interventions and disease, has revealed that long-term consumption of fruits and vegetables decreases the incidence of diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. This effect is believed to be attributed to the presence of phenolic compounds which have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore, Scherr and colleagues performed a prospective, double-blind placebo control trial to determine if the consumption of nonalcoholic beer polyphenols (measured between 326 and 489 mg of gallic acid depending on amount of nonalcoholic beer consumed) attenuated post-race inflammation and decreased URTI incidence. 227 subjects were randomized into 2 groups (intervention – pholyphenol containing beverage or control – non-polyphenol containing beverage). Subjects consumed 1.0-1.5L of beverage per day for the 3 weeks leading up to, the day of the race, and for 2 weeks following the Munich Marathon race. Telephone interviews and training diaries were performed by the subjects on a bi-weekly basis to ensure compliance. Subjects were requested not to use NSAIDS or any polyphenol containing foods. To evaluate inflammation, interleukin-6 (IL-6) was measured through fasting blood samples taken at 5 times (4 weeks before, 1 week before, 1 hour after finishing the race, and 24 and 72 hours post-race). Total blood leukocyte count and incidence of URTI (score greater than 7 on the Wisconsin Upper Respiratory Symptom Survey) were measured 1 week prior to and 2 weeks following the race. Data for 121 subjects (58 – intervention, 63 – control) were analyzed (55 lost to follow-up, 101 excluded from full analysis due to non-compliance of protocol). Immediately following the race, IL-6 levels in the intervention group were significantly lower than the control. Post-race incidence of URTI was also significantly lower in the intervention group. This data indicates that consumption of nonalcoholic beer with pholyphenols, 3 weeks prior to the Munich marathon did reduce postrace inflammation and incidence of URTI.

The results of this study present an interesting look into pholyphenol supplementation in marathon runners. Some interesting thoughts do arise from these results though. Firstly, the proper consumption methods must be studied. The author listed the amount of liquid needed to be consumed as a limitation and suggested another method of administration be used. Future studies should expand to look at other polyphenol rich substances (to ensure that outcomes are due to polyphenols and not other substances in the beer) and other inflammatory markers throughout the body. Nonalcoholic beer can also be argued as it may lead to gastrointestional distress during the training phase, and therefore may not be the best option for athletes in training. Another question which arises is the actual amount of pholyphenols actually absorbed in the gastrointestinal track. While the results determine that the mechanism exists, further analysis would clarify how much substance is needed to be consumed to maximize its effects. What have you found? Have you had any exposure to polyphenol supplementation? What methods of administration have you used? Have you seen any significant results?

Written by: Kyle Harris
Reviewed by: Stephen Thomas
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Scherr J, Nieman DC, Schuster T, Habermann J, Rank M, Braun S, Pressler A, Wolfarth B, & Halle M (2012). Nonalcoholic beer reduces inflammation and incidence of respiratory tract illness. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 44 (1), 18-26 PMID: 21659904