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Boffin blends benevolent beer

Hydration hack hinders hangovers by adding sports drink ingredients

It's not a hangover cure, but it could help retain the beneficial effects of beer while mitigating some of its damage. A researcher from Queensland's Griffith Health Institute has found a way to make beer work like electrolyte drinks without ruining its taste.

Associate Professor Ben Desbrow is working on the idea that beer actually has some beneficial nutrients, courtesy of its plant origins and fermentation. However, if you're reaching for an ale whenever you're sweaty and dehydrated, you'll be running through the beer (or, rather, the beer will be running through you) too quickly to get the benefits.

With a couple of simple tricks to manipulate electrolyte levels and alcohol strength, Associate Professor Ben Desbrow of GHI has created what, if it tastes acceptable, would have to be an Aussie holy grail: a beer you can use as an electrolyte replacement.

“We basically manipulated the electrolyte levels of two commercial beers, one regular strength and one light beer and gave it to research subjects who’d just lost a significant amount of sweat by exercising. We then used several measures to monitor the participant’s fluid recovery to the different beers,” Desbrow says in this release.

“Of the four different beers the subjects consumed, our augmented light beer was by far the most well retained by the body, meaning it was the most effective at rehydrating the subjects.”

The point is this: even though it's not a good idea, the habit of celebrating the end of strenuous effort with a beer is deeply ingrained in Australian culture. One brand's (Victoria Bitter) “a hard-earned thirst needs a big cold beer” ad campaign worked so well, it's continued long after the death of the narrator via the wonders of digital sampling.

Back to associate professor Desbrow: “So, if you’re going to live in the real world, you can either spend your time telling people what they shouldn’t do, or you can work on ways of reducing the danger of some of these socialised activities.” ®

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