Does drinking beer actually help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s? Several current media reports point to this. And in fact, the decisive effect is probably in the hops. The backgrounds.

More than 1.8 million people in Germany suffer from dementia, most of them from the special form of Alzheimer’s. The disease is considered incurable, so prevention is all the more important. Numerous research papers deal with the topic. In addition to classic pharmaceutical studies, so-called nutraceuticals (also: nutraceuticals) are also examined. Nutraceutical means a food or part of a food that has a medicinal or health benefit.

One example is hop blossoms, which are also used to flavor beer. Previous studies have already indicated that they could help in the fight against Alzheimer’s.

Italian scientists working with Cristina Airoldi and Alessandro Palmioli from the University of Milan-Bicocca have now taken another close look at hops. They recently published the study in ACS Chemical Neuroscience. The result: the hop inflorescences can inhibit the clumping of amyloid beta proteins, at least in the laboratory. These proteins are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. However, the study does not refer to beer, but to chemicals obtained from hop blossoms.

To do this, the scientists examined the properties of the chemical compounds contained in the hops. The goal was to identify those that have an anti-beta amyloid effect. To do this, the researchers examined extracts from four well-known hop varieties (Cascade, Saaz, Tettnang and Summit).

According to the researchers, the most effective was the extract from Tettnang hops, which comes from Germany and is found in many lager and light beers as well as in some herbal teas and soft drinks. The scientists also tested the extract directly on the approximately one millimeter long nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, a well-studied model organism. Its genome is similar to that of humans. And indeed, it protected the worm from Alzheimer’s-related paralysis.

Despite the study, the researchers warn against using it as a justification for higher beer consumption. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to cognitive problems – and also increase the risk of dementia, as a study again showed in July 2022.

To classify: According to the Federal Center for Health Education should

drink alcohol per day. The following applies to everyone: avoid alcohol completely for at least two days a week so that drinking does not become a habit.

“Our results show that hops are a source of bioactive molecules […] that help counteract the early processes of Alzheimer’s development,” the researchers summarize. Instead of drinking beer, they recommend considering hops when making supplements for Alzheimer’s prevention.

The empowering help book for those affected and their families

There are also other measures that reduce the risk of dementia. The most important factors include: