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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Study shows alcohol may be beneficial for runners

Alcohol has a huge effect on an athlete’s performance.

When associated with athletes, beer in particular has been stamped with a social stigma.

However, research indicates that for many athletes, beer plays a significant role in recovery and illness prevention.

Training for a marathon is tough and strenuous work, and in most cases, finishing the actual race is an accomplishment in itself.

Therefore, there are usually big post-marathon celebrations where vast amounts of beer can be found. This comes as no surprise as it is common to find runners who drink beer frequently.

In 2009, Dr. Johannes Scherr conducted a study on 277 contestants three weeks before and two weeks after the Munich Marathon.

Later known as “Be-MaGIC,” (Beer, Marathons, Genetics, Inflammation and the Cardiovascular system) the study explored the influence of polyphenol in wheat beer.

According to, “Polyphenols are a group of chemicals found in many fruits, vegetables, and other plants, such as berries, walnuts, olives, tea leaves and grapes. They are classified as antioxidants, meaning that they remove free radicals from the body. Free radicals are chemicals that have the potential to cause damage to cells and tissues in the body.”

The website goes on to say that “Polyphenols have been found to possess a variety of potential health benefits, including cancer prevention and reducing the risk of getting heart disease. Some studies have also found that polyphenols lower LDL cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol, in the body.”

Dr. Scherr separated his subjects into two groups, the beer drinkers and the non-beer drinkers. The first group drank 1.5 liters of non-alcoholic wheat beer each day and the other group drank a substance that smelled and tasted like wheat beer, but lacked the polyphenols found in it, that can help with inflammatory response after running a marathon.

Research has determined that athletes generally experience an inflammatory response after running a marathon.

Heightened stress placed on the body, due to a strenuous event like a marathon, has been cited as a cause for inflammatory responses.

Inflammatory responses can overpower the body’s immune system. This can lead to colds, viruses and other illnesses that can attack the body. Dr Scherr’s study determined that the beer drinkers experienced less of an immune response, and in turn, experienced fewer illnesses and infections than the non-beer drinkers.

In the end, Dr. Scherr’s experiment proved that beer ultimately supports the immune system.

As a result, beer drinkers will most likely experience fewer colds than non-beer drinkers.

Lastly, beer drinkers who did get sick were not sick for long, and had milder colds and infections than non-beer drinkers.

While most people like to explore the reasons why beer is bad for the body, there are some benefits to beer consumption, especially for athletes.

Just remember that if you are putting your body through intense and strenuous conditions, drink a few beers.

However, do not get too carried away and drink too much and remember that a moderate amount will be just fine.

As long as the beer is rich in polyphenols, it will benefit the body and support the immune system.


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