Professor Pilsner on beer and health

Pete Mitcham

Pete Mitcham

It goes without saying that our health is probably our most important resource. Without it the rest is pretty useless, really. No health – no job. No job – no money. No money – no beer. And all the other essentials of a rich and fulfilling life like friends, family, travel, study, exploration and discovery.

But health is often the first thing we mess with when it comes to the modern world and its seemingly non-stop and frenetic pace. At best we take good health for granted and at worst we neglect it or punish it until it sends us the message that things need to change. Blokes, in particular, are their own worst enemies in issues of health and well-being and in taking seriously the consequences. We also tend to be a bit slow when it comes to tackling the solution.

When the crunch comes and the body calls for a bit of a ‘time out’ to readjust and get back to previous levels of health and fitness, we invariably look to a prescribed diet and/or exercise program. Whatever is trendy – sorry; ‘on-trend’ – or faddish or flavour of the month for whatever reason is the one that we select and promise to stick to for at least the length of the ‘introductory offer’ period.

Blokes – like many reading these pages – are also likely to enjoy the odd beer after work, at tastings and beer dinners or while wrangling snags on the BBQ. And it is usually beer which is deemed the most evil and the item which needs to be removed forthwith from the diet before any results will be feasible. We are reliably informed that the ‘beer belly’ is one of the major causes of everything from diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol and early death and that reducing or removing our intake is the only guaranteed option.

The other option, of course, is to drink specially designed low-carb beers as a part of a healthy lifestyle, but surely we all know by now that this is Marketing Bullshit 101 rather than scientific fact?

When given a choice between giving up the beer and all the foods that go so well with beer, or ‘accepting your fate’ is to be a little fat or slightly less fit, the beer wins most times. My uneducated guess is that this is at least partly behind the difficulties men have with strict diet regimes, the latest exercise trends and Nutri-Bullets. For goodness sake, be like Abraham Simpson and just; “Eat the goddamn orange!”

The other key problem with maintaining good physical health often arises later on in the game. When we are young and fit and healthy and seemingly bullet proof, it’s easy to keep livin’ the dream and convince ourselves that our bodies can be punished from time to time and will always bounce back. What doesn’t kill us, you know?

The reality is quite different. Age will have its way. When I knocked up my ‘half century’, I raised the bat, acknowledged the polite applause from the crowd, re-marked centre and got on with the business of accumulating the next fifty. But I soon realised that what once was ‘easy’ was now ‘a bit of a struggle’. Recovery took longer and the body had its own ideas as to how it could look. The weight stayed, where before it seemingly disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. A few hard days at work, the odd skipped meal and a late night and the waistline resumed normal transmission. Now? Not so much.

At six-foot-one and of reasonable health my whole life, I decided that with a waistline of forty inches and a weight knocking on the door of ninety kilos it was time I did something before the task got too difficult. A rusted-on cynic – and indeed, critic – of the many weight loss/diet-exercise/cheap-&-crappy-home gym equipment fads that come and go, I was not sure where to look for advice and inspiration.

I know, as do we all, that results will come from lifestyle. From habits, not isolated actions. From a plan that is achievable and realistic and that doesn’t involve a second mortgage to obtain real results. From a system that, after a few weeks of learning, can become a normal part of our daily routine. Most importantly, it needs to work.

Actually, most, most importantly, it needs to include beer.

Having decided to take a positive and active step to improve my fitness, I’ve now decided on the one that suits my lifestyle, time allowance and physical capabilities. In the next few instalments I will bravely share with you my efforts, my setbacks and struggles and, hopefully, my successes.

Wish me luck.

Back to Historical