If your idea of relaxing at the end of the day involves cracking open a beer, you’re not the only one. According to Statista, in 2021, the U.S. beer industry had around $109 billion in revenue, and, on average, consumers drank about 68 liters (18 gallons) within the year.
Compared to other alcoholic beverages, beer is easy to come by in stores due to its low alcohol by volume (ABV) — many beers are under 5% ABV, making them sellable in grocery stores in states with strict liquor laws. While those low ABV numbers may make drinking beer seem like a better option than other alcoholic beverages, it’s important to note how drinking a beer every day can take a toll on your overall health — both immediate and long-term.
Nutrition information for beer
According to the USDA, one 12-ounce can (355 mL) of regular beer contains:
–Protein: 2 g
–Total fat: 0 g
–Carbohydrates: 13 g
–Fiber: 0 g
–Sugars: 0 g
–Alcohol: 14 g
–33Niacin: 2 mg
–Riboflavin: <1 mg
–Choline: 36 mg
–Folate: 21 mcg
–Magnesium: 21 mg
–Phosphorus: 50 mg
–Selenium: 2 mcg
–Vitamin B12: <1 mcg
What happens when you drink it daily
Could disrupt your sleep
While drinking beer — as well as other types of alcohol — is popularly known for making the consumer feel relaxed and experience feelings of euphoria, intoxication can affect your brain’s long-term health.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA) states that alcohol can affect your brain’s communication pathway, and even affects your brain’s ability to process information.
Sleep can easily be impaired, even if you consume a light amount of alcohol during the day. A 2018 study published in JMIR Mental Health compared the sleep quality of participants who consumed different amounts of alcohol, and found that even light drinkers (drinking two or fewer servings for men, one or fewer for women) experienced a 9.3% decrease in sleep quality. When consuming alcohol, the liver kicks into high gear to metabolize the alcohol, which can result in a fitful night of sleep.
Slows down your weight loss process
When consumed, alcohol goes to the “front of the line, because the liver is prioritizing getting rid of that toxin first,” said Kimberly Gomer, M.S., RD, LDN. Because alcohol is prioritized, if you are in the process of trying to lose weight, it can slow down the entire fat-burning process.
“The liver’s job is to filter circulating blood and destroys toxic substances, including alcohol. The liver can handle a certain amount of alcohol, but as a person continues to drink, it can become stressed to the point of causing permanent damage,” said Gomer.
May cause digestive issues
When consumed in large amounts, alcohol can cause intestinal inflammation and cause issues within the gastrointestinal tract and the liver, according to a 2017 publication in Alcohol Research. Alcohol can negatively alter the bacteria in your gut and permeate the lining of the intestine (leaky gut syndrome), making the body even more susceptible to alcohol-related diseases — including alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Could dehydrate you
“The alcohol in beer can result in dehydration. The kidney is responsible for regulating fluid and electrolytes, and alcohol can disrupt hormones that affect kidney function, which can affect the kidneys and the body’s ability to regulate fluid and electrolytes. It also disrupts hormones that affect kidney function,” said Gomer.
However, one study published in 2017 in Nutrients found that when drinking moderate amounts of low-alcoholic beverages, such as beer, the diuretic effect of this drink was not as strong as other alcoholic beverages like wine and liquor. So, if you drink beer moderately and make sure to drink water as well during the day, that may help you avoid dehydration — which is known to be a contributing factor to the morning-after hangover, according to the NIAAA.
Can increase your risk of chronic diseases
Limiting the number of drinks really does matter when it comes to taking care of your long-term health — particularly when it comes to lowering your risk of several chronic diseases.
Although a small 2018 study published in Nutrients found some connections between moderate drinking and improved heart health due to alcohol’s potential ability to decrease HDL (“good”) cholesterol, a 2022 systematic review published in The American Journal of Medicine concluded that many observational studies may have overestimated the benefits of alcohol consumption — mainly wine in cardiovascular health — by not considering other factors such lifestyle and genetics.
Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that excessive drinking can increase your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, and even cardiomyopathy (a disorder that affects the heart muscle).
Along with heart-health risks, the CDC also states that drinking alcohol has been linked to increasing the risk of certain types of cancer, such as mouth and throat, voice box (larynx), esophagus, colon and rectum, liver, and breast cancer in women. The American Cancer Society says that alcohol consumption accounts for 6% of all cancers and 4% of cancer deaths in the United States.