Welcome to Big Old Goofy World . . . a place where I can share my thoughts, hopes, and dreams about this rock that we live on and call home.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Better Living Through Chemistry

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
-Benjamin Franklin
 "We old folks have to find our cushions and pillows in our tankards. Strong beer is the milk of the old."
-Martin Luther

Passing the half century mark came with a few new "quirks"--primarily dealing with the physical side of life.  True, the hair makes an exit--but that has been pretty common place in my life since the early twenties.  The hearing goes--but the wife tells me that the hearing loss seems to be selective, to which I usually respond, "Huh?  Did you say something?"  The equator expands, but I can cover that with the next size up and lots of baggy clothes.  The sight goes, but that is why they tri-focal glasses--now I can't see in three different ways.  Yes, as one gets older the body seems to go.  Plus, there seems to be more aches and pains that accompany the aging process.  As I have said over and over, getting older is not for wimps.

With the advance of age I have now discovered places on and in my body that never used to have aches and pains, but now they do.  Now I can understand aches and pains that come from exertion, exercise, and hard work--three things I have not been accused of in the past couple of years.  But these pains just appear out of nowhere--appear during the night--and they hurt.  My knees hurt.  My elbows hurt.  My hips hurt.  My gut hurts.  My back hurts.  Everything at one time or another hurts.  Sadly, I did nothing to earn these aches and pains except live.  Those older and wiser than me tell me that "it just comes with getting older."  The only thing that they did not tell me is that "old" starts when one starts on the downhill side of fifty!

Sometimes good news comes from the most unexpected places.  Though I do not spend a lot of time lamenting this old age phenomenon of aches and pains, it does cross my mind from time to time--especially when one works on a university campus where there seems to be an abundance of healthy and non-pained individuals walking around on campus.  Today I stumbled across an article from Men's Health magazine reprinted on the MSN website that brought to me hope.  The title of the article was To Bounce Back Faster, Try a Beer.  According to this article beer is healthy for you--especially for all of those little aches and pain.  As one who has entered into that phase of life where there are mysterious aches and pains that accompany daily living, this was good news!  Heck, it was great news!  I like beer!

The article states that beer--especially wheat-based beer--is good for you.  It is good for you because it contains polyphenols.  Polyphenols are are an antioxidant chemical found in many plants and fruits. Polyphenols have antiviral properties, they help regulate the immune system, and they help to down-regulate genes that are related to turning on inflammation and stress.  One researcher stated that beer has lots of these!  Researchers also stated that research that shows polyphenols can act as a more-effective substitute for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen.  Polyphenols are most effective when ingested in combinations. That’s why wheat beer, which contains many different types of polyphenols, was perfect.    And, get this, the alcoholic wheat beer was double the non-alcoholic beer in polyphenols.  Now, tell me, does that sound like a godsend for someone over the age of fifty, who experiences aches and pains, and likes beer?  Is that not good news?  I think so! The news made me so happy that I went right out and opened up a beer to celebrate.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking out there--if anyone drinks enough beer he or she will never feel any aches or pain.  True, but there is the little thing that often accompanies an over indulgence of beer consumption--the hangover.  Which, in reality is really no big deal--a couple of beers and that too disappears.  According to the study beer is even better than ibuprofen--a couple of micro brews and who is feeling a headache?  The reality is that the researchers are not endorsing excessive beer drinking.  Instead they say that a pint (maybe two) is good for the body.  Who am I to argue with medical researchers with more degrees and letters after their name than I have?  The old theologian Martin Luther said it best:  "We old folks have to find our cushions and pillows in our tankards. Strong beer is the milk of the old."  I imagine he was speaking from experience as he was an experiential theologian in my estimation.

So, I lift my frosty mug to the wonders of beer to ease the aches and pains of getting older.  I toast the mysterious healing touch of a fine ale that makes getting older easier.  I once heard the phrase, "Better living through chemistry"--this sounds like the results of this research.  When the researchers are ready to do a little research on the magical, wonderful, healing powers of beer on the geriatric--well, I am ready to volunteer.  Here's to beer!

(For those who would like to read the article:  http://onit.msn.com/story?ocid=hpep.)

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