Many turn to cold drinks like beer to quench their thirst when the heat hits, but is it really hydrating?

Toast with beers.

With the arrival of summer and holidays we relax our daily habits. This leads to excessive consumption of some foods and beverages that we do not abuse as much the rest of the year. One of them, with the heat that surrounds us these days, is beer. A cold beer (or several) is the preferred option of many consumers to mitigate the effects of heat and enjoy a pleasant time in company.

It is common that this more frequent consumption than usual is tried to justify. For example, saying that beer helps hydration. This idea is deeply ingrained in consumers as a proven fact, but it is a completely wrong perception. In my book The false myths of food I explain this and other food legends.

Beer it can’t be good to hydrate us because alcohol has a diuretic effect that leads to high dehydration. For the same reason, beer also does not help the body recover after an intense sport. At least the conventional one. One without alcohol could have a greater hydration potential, although the most effective is water.

Non-alcoholic beer harbors another widespread myth: just like beer normal, contains folic acid (vitamin B9). Since it is important during pregnancy to prevent problems with the neural development of the baby, the consumption of beer without alcohol is recommended for pregnant women.

However, the Recommended daily allowance that a healthy non-pregnant person should consume folic acid is 200 µg, while beer contains about 30 µg / L. A 200 mL sugarcane will provide 6 µg of folic acid, 3% of the total needed daily. Is this fame then justified? It seems obvious that not. It would be much more advisable to take vegetables and fruits that, together, will offer a significant contribution.

Beware of soft drinks

Another component consumed in excess in summer is sugar. Glucose, the most common of the simple sugars, is an essential substance for the proper functioning of the body. But nevertheless, excess can be very harmful, by increasing the level of glucose in the blood. This can lead to diseases such as diabetes and obesity. Also cavities.

In our current lifestyle it is common to consume processed foods, soft drinks, juices and other products with a significant amount of added simple sugars. Therefore, the sugar consumption per person has skyrocketed compared to a few years ago.

The World Health Organization (WHO), after carrying out the analysis of numerous scientific documents, launched a dietary recommendation: that the daily amount of free sugars ingested does not exceed 50 grams. This equates to about 10 teaspoons.

It is a quantity very easily surpassed as soon as one takes a soft drink (35 grams of sugar) or a chocolate shake (25 grams of sugar), to give a few examples. Keep in mind that the recommended 50 grams they also include the sugars that foods naturally present, so maintaining those levels is a challenge.

Brown sugar is no better

To curb sugar consumption, some substitute common (white) sugar for whole brown cane sugar. Many people believe that the latter is healthier because the fact of being less refined, when by refined we mean purified. In either case, we are talking about the same product: purified sucrose crystals after an industrial process.

The only difference is that white sugar is 100% sugar, while whole cane sugar is 97%. In other words, practically everything is sugar. In addition, that difference of 3% makes it sweeter less, so some add more and make the situation worse.

Therefore, there is no difference appreciable in terms of the use of white or brown sugar. Even when the latter contains some minerals and vitamins in very small amounts.

What if we use honey instead of sugar? Honey is a good product, but it must be consumed in moderation. It contains 1% of minerals and vitamins and up to 2% of proteins, but more than 80% are simple free sugars such as glucose, sucrose and maltose. The rest is water.

For health and glucose metabolism purposes, adding honey is equivalent to adding 80% sugar and 20% water. That is, five teaspoons of honey are equivalent to four of sugar. In addition, the sweetening effect will also be reduced.

Does this mean that sweeteners are the best? Its use is safe and does not entail metabolism problems In a direct way. But if they are abused, the body gets used to sweet flavors, which increases the intake of these types of products. Therefore, the most effective thing would be to get used to foods with a lower level of sweetness.

These are some of the examples of myths related to food that constantly surround us. Luckily, science holds the key to unraveling them.

* This article was originally published on The Conversation.

*Miguel Herrero, cSenior Scientist at the Food Science Research Institute