Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The Dark Side of Your Brew

Arsenic, that murder-mystery staple, may be hiding in plain view


Bad news: Beer can leave behind more than a hangover. People who consumed an average of 2.5 beers per day raised their body’s arsenic content by 30 percent, according to new research from Dartmouth College.
You heard that right: arsenic—that potent poison worthy of murder mysteries. So what’s going on? The alcohol in beer could impair your body’s ability to metabolize the content present in the grains used in brewing, allowing it to linger in your system. Grossly enough, researchers discovered this by testing toenail clippings—markers of prolonged exposure to arsenic—finding that other foods including fish, rice, and Brussels sprouts are arsenic-containing culprits, too.
Arsenic occurs naturally in the environment, so it can end up in your ground water, which then works its way into your food and tap. And while you won’t suffer arsenic poisoning from overindulging with a few IPAs or eating sushi every now and then, consuming a diet of foods high in the stuff can cause it to accumulate in your system over time. The World Health Organization estimates that a prolonged exposure of 5 years or more can cause serious side effects, like kidney failure, skin lesions, and various types of cancers, according to the EPA. 
Keep your system clean by eating a varied, healthy diet and don’t rely too much one any one specific type of food, suggests lead researcher, Kathryn Cottingham, Ph.D. And stock up on antioxidants—a Columbia University study found that vitamins A, B, C, and E, as well as riboflavin and folic acid can help reduce your risk of arsenic-related skin lesions by up to 68 percent.