The beer ingredient that could prevent Alzheimer’s

It’s the sort of news that beer lovers would love to hear: “Beer could help protect you against Alzheimer’s disease.”

Given the mostly negative health outcomes usually associated with research into alcoholic drinks, such news would be welcome to lovers of lager and purveyors of pints.

But could it really be true? The answer is yes – sort of. As is so often the case with scientific research, there are caveats.

New research published by the American Chemical Society has found that beer hop compound extracts may inhibit the build-up of amyloid beta proteins in the brain.

Amyloid beta proteins have long been pegged as markers for the onset of Alzheimer’s. So, anything that inhibits their build-up is likely to be a good thing.

Read: How picking your nose could open the door to Alzheimer’s

How scientists came to even hypothesise about beer hops as a potential preventer of Alzheimer’s is an interesting story in itself.

Study co-author Dr Alessandro Palmioli said: “We started many years ago by studying some natural and synthetic molecules that were able to counteract the early stages of this disease.”

That led Dr Palmioli and his colleagues to wonder if these molecules could perhaps be taken as part of a regular diet.

“So our studies focused on the search for bioactive molecules present in food and edible plants,” he explained.

And, of course, there are many flower hops that come under the umbrella term ‘edible plants’.

Read: Is beer really to blame for that pot belly?

In the new study, researchers focused on four different hops commonly used in the preparation of beer and herbal tea: Cascade, Saaz, Tettnang and Summit.

Of the 42 compounds they identified, some were linked to reducing blood sugar levels and antioxidant activity.

They also analysed the ability of each hop extract to inhibit amyloid beta accumulation. They found that all four could inhibit the build-up of amyloid beta proteins.

One particular type of hop, called Tettnang, which is found in many lagers and light ales, provided especially promising results.

The researchers concluded that their results point towards the development of nutraceuticals that may prevent Alzheimer’s. For those who have long been hoping for their regular brew to be classified as a ‘nutraceutical’ (foods that have some type of medicinal or nutritional function) that sounds like great news.

Read: Eye scan can reveal early signs of Alzheimer’s

But – and sadly with alcoholic beverages there is almost always a ‘but’ – it’s not that simple. Dr Michael Alosco explains why: “Importantly, the message should not be that drinking hoppy beer can lead to brain-based benefits or prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The benefits of the hops chemicals are likely to be diluted when combined with alcohol and the caloric ingredients found in beer.”

The bottom line? Depending on the beer you favour, you may be taking in some compounds that help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s. But the amount involved will be very small and unlikely to counteract any known risks of enjoying an ale.

By all means raise a glass in honour and appreciation of this research if you so desire. But don’t be seduced into thinking you’re improving your health as you do so!

Has someone in your life been touched by Alzheimer’s? What impact has it had? Why not share your experience and thoughts in the comments section below?

Andrew Gigacz
Andrew Gigacz
Andrew has developed knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income and government entitlements, as well as issues affecting older Australians moving into or living in retirement. He's an accomplished writer with a passion for health and human stories.


  1. We are told that ‘early intervention’ is a great thing in helping to deal with alzheimers and dementia..However, if the cost of specialists is exorbitant, and help from Medicare is ‘non existent’ in a lot of treatment, can someone let me know how this is beneficial. If someone is diagnosed with either of the above, sees a specialist, then the ongoing treatment is beyond their financial capabilities, what is the solution…Im talking fact here..and talking of costs over $500+ and more..

- Our Partners -


- Advertisment -
- Advertisment -