You did it. You survived another holiday season of feasting on various roasted meats, consuming an entire gingerbread village and washing it all down with heaps of craft beer.
But you didn’t get through it unscathed. Your holiday war wounds are a thickening waistline and an intestinal track screaming for respite.
With New Year’s resolutions hanging in the collective unconscious, I thought it time to do a little research on ways craft beer drinkers can help their bodies.
There are a few approaches to detoxifying. You can go the extreme route: an intense juice cleanse where you cut out all beer and food and take yourself to the edge of sanity. Or you can go the more temperate course of making a few conscious adjustments to your everyday life. Below you’ll find that I eschewed the Puritan-inspired cleanses and went the moderate route. (Note: I’m not a health-care professional, I’m a beer writer, so be sure to consult your doctor.)
TAKE MILK THISTLE SUPPLEMENTS
Over and over in my research, milk thistle came up as a leading supplement for cleansing the liver and kidneys. As with most supplements, the jury’s still out on whether it actually works, but the University of Maryland Medical Center reports that milk thistle may protect the liver from toxins, while having antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. I picked up a bottle at Whole Foods. It was a bit pricey, but my liver and kidneys have earned it.
Kombucha is tea fermented in a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (also known as SCOBY). This ancient beverage is loaded with probiotics, antioxidants and B vitamins that aid in detoxifying the body. It does contain trace levels of alcohol, but only about 1 percent. Luckily, Portland’s Urban Farm Fermentory brews a delicious lineup of kombuchas. Owner Eli Cayer explained to me that UFF’s kombucha contains all the known health benefits. “We at the UFF believe that directly detoxing the body reduces the load on your liver and is the number one thing a truly raw kombucha does for you,” he said. Don’t be scared by the word ‘raw.’ UFF’s kombuchas are clean and delicious. My favorite is the ginger. (Even my non-alcohol-drinking mother loves it.)
WATER, WATER, WATER
If you’re looking to flush your system of toxins, forget the “eight 8-ounce glasses a day” maxim. To really detoxify our kidneys and livers, most research suggests consuming closer to 100 ounces of water daily. According to “The Conscious Cleanse,” a person should drink half their body weight in ounces each day. That’s a lot of hydrating, but craft beer fans owe it to their kidneys and livers. Adding fresh, organic lemons to your water will further help detoxify your gut, boost vitamin C levels and give an energy bump.
DRINK (SOME) BEER
“The Nutrition Bible” states: “Moderate drinking lowers your risk of dying of heart disease by 30 percent.” Here’s some more good news: moderate drinking may also lead to 60 percent fewer colds. When I read this, I was like, “I knew it. All this beer drinking is good for me.” Then I read on: “A problem with alcohol is that few people can limit themselves to one or two drinks a day.” Ain’t that the truth. But it seems that the answer to being healthy isn’t to cut all beer from our diets. Two delicious craft beers a day, and I’m still living a healthy life? I’m in.
I’m happy to report that the Maine craft beer we drink isn’t as harsh on our bodies as some macro beers that contain GMO corn syrup and rice, along with other modified ingredients. Drinking locally is healthier — as long as you’re not slamming back a fridge-full of double IPAs, of course.
With a number of new Maine breweries set to open in 2017, we need to take care of our bodies so we can keep imbibing in this golden age of beer. Cheers!
OTHER BEER HAPPENINGS
Celebrate 6 at The Thirsty Pig
6 to 10 p.m. Friday, 37 Exchange St., Portland.
Without the beer-forward thinking of Allison Stevens, the Portland beer scene would not be as great as it is today. As the owner of The Thirsty Pig, Stevens has helped spearhead many Portland Beer Weeks and works tirelessly to keep a cutting-edge lineup of Maine beers on tap. On Friday, head out to the Pig and celebrate its sixth anniversary with Stevens and her talented crew. Expect beer on draft from Austin Street, Orono Brewing, Bissell Brothers and Mason’s, along with plenty of house-made sausages, plus live music from Mosart212 and 32French.
Brewers takeover at Urban Farm Fermentory
Noon to 7 p.m. Saturday, 200 Anderson St., Portland.
Inspired to pick up a growler of kombucha from Urban Farm Fermentory after reading this week’s column? On Saturday the UFF brewers who make their komuchas, ciders, meads and gruits will be on hand to discuss the process of bringing you this wide-ranging lineup of fermented beverages. This is a great excuse to get to the tasting room and experience one of Portland’s best fermentation houses.