Can Beer Make Your Brain Better?

Have you heard that beer makes your brain better? If you enjoy beer, that’s one good reason have a drink this 4th of July.

We already know that moderate amounts of beer can reduce the chance of heart disease by 41% and even lower the risk of cancer.1

Now a new study that shows drinking beer can help you improve your mind by increasing your ability to solve problems. And it brings out your creativity.

Here’s the story of how they discovered this, and how you can use what they found to increase your brainpower and creativity…

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago set up a problem-solving game with 40 people. 20 people drank two pints of beer. 20 people didn’t drink any alcohol at all.

After their drinks, both groups played some rounds of word puzzles and brain teasers. The people participating played a word association game. They were given three words and then asked to complete the pattern with a fourth word. For instance, if the words were “blue,” “cottage” or “Swiss,” the answer would be “cheese.”

People who drank before playing not only answered 40% more questions correctly, they answered the questions 3.5 times more quickly than those who hadn’t had anything to drink.2

It doesn’t prove cause and effect, but what the scientists figured out is that drinking alcohol can allow your brain to enter a more flexible state of attention. And can help you come up with more creative solutions your problems.

When you drink a beer, the alcohol reduces your ability to pay attention and focus – also known as your working memory capacity (WMC).

Now this may seem counterproductive, but when your WMC slows down, your brain relaxes. It doesn’t respond to nagging outside interferences. This can allow your mind to be more creative.

This is contrary to the belief that you need to focus in order to be innovative. And it could explain why some of the most creative people in history were known drinkers like Ernest Hemingway and Vincent Van Gogh.

So Should You Go Pick Up a Six-Pack?

By no means am I saying this is a reason to go overboard with drinking. In fact, the study concluded that while beer may be helpful with problem solving, it doesn’t do much for your memory.

If you drink too much alcohol of any kind, it inhibits your absorption of B vitamins – specifically B1, thiamine, B6 and B12.

If you become vitamin B deficient, it can cause something called Wernicke’s aphasia. It’s why drinkers can have trouble remembering simple things like the name of the artist that “sang that song” or what a common object is called.

When I worked in the ER, I saw many alcoholics come in who couldn’t even remember where they lived. And for most of them, all they needed to get back to normal was a cocktail of B vitamins through an IV to help them recover from such a profound vitamin deficiency.

But that’s not always the case. Lack of memory can become permanent if you drink too much.

Wernicke’s aphasia can also cause something called confabulation. Confabulation is not a medical term, but also not a widely used term. It’s a certain type of lying that’s evident when you watch videos of police pulling over an intoxicated driver who makes up a story of nonsense to explain where he’s been.

Get Your Creativity Flowing

If you like to have a beer every now and then, you can have one without worrying.

I recommend you try low-carb beer. Each new one seems to outperform the last, in terms of flavor and fullness. Notice I didn’t say low-calorie beer. Some of the low-calorie beer might also be low-carb, but check the label to be sure. Michelob Light, for example, has lower calories, but has almost 12g of carbs. It’s low-carb cousin, Michelob Ultra, only has 2.6g of carbs, but the calories are higher.

I recommend the lower carb because I know it’s carbohydrate intake is more important when it comes to the long-term effect on your fat-building metabolism.

If you don’t currently enjoy beer, you don’t have to start drinking to boost your creative thinking. There are two other ways you can get your creative juices flowing:

  1. Boost a basic brain building block. Your brain has a huge appetite for a special nutrient called choline. It’s the primary building block for acetylcholine – the compound your brain uses 24/7 for all the basics like movement, thought, memory and sleep. It’s also lets you make faster, more accurate decisions, boosts your creativity and improves your memory. That’s why I added choline to my Better Than Coffee formula.
  2. The best way to get more choline is to eat animal products like cage-free eggs and grass-fed red meat. Animal liver is the best source. Two ounces of beef liver have 174 mg of choline. One large egg (also about 2 ounces) has 141 mg. Women need at least 425 mg of choline a day and men need at least 550 mg.

  3. Relax your mind. Meditation is one of the most overlooked but powerful tools you can use to relax your mind and think more clearly. When you meditate, you train your brain to release all distractions which can heighten your learning ability and increase your creativity.
  4. Meditation is safe, easy and best of all, it’s free. The technique is exceedingly simple. The most natural object of meditation is your breath. For beginners, I recommend mastering your focus on your breath before you try any other object of meditation. Here’s an exercise you can try today:

  • Find a quiet comfortable place to sit.
  • Rest your hands in your lap and close your eyes.
  • For the first few minutes, focus on the natural rhythm of your breath.
  • At first, don’t try to change it. Just follow your breath.
  • The next step is to gently make your breath, quieter, slower, deeper and more regular.
  • If your attention drifts to other things redirect it to your breath.

Try to meditate at least 10 minutes once a day. Twice a day is even better.

If you’d like other tips on how to improve your brain’s performance, click here.

1. Kontou N, Psaltopoulou T, Soupos N, Polychronopoulos E, Xinopoulos D, Linos A, Panagiotakos D. “Alcohol consumption and colorectal cancer in a mediterranean population: a case-control study.” Dis Colon Rectum. 2012 Jun;55(6):703-10.

2. Jarosz A, Colflesh G, Wiley J, “Uncorking the muse: Alcohol intoxication facilitates creative problem solving,” Consciousness and Cognition, Volume 21, Issue 1, March 2012, 487-493.