When someone says beer is good for you they're usually in a bar on their second or third pint and toasting their mates. But when this message comes from one of the most respected voices in nutritional medicine, it holds a whole other meaning. That's exactly what Jeffrey  Bland, Ph.D, wants us to know,  in this time of COVID-19. In fact, if he had his way we would all be drinking more beer -- which he says also helps you burn fat -- and drinking oat milk. If this is a prevention approach or diet plan, sign us up.

If you don't know Bland by name, you've likely felt his impact. If you've ever taken a naturopathic remedy, eaten a food for a specific purported health benefit, or read a label to better understand the structure or function of an ingredient, it may be because of Bland. Considered the "Father" of functional medicine, this Linus Pauling disciple has been instrumental in bringing awareness to what—and why—we eat.

Dr. Bland has been instrumental in bringing natural medicine into the limelight over the last three decades as a biochemist and former professor of biochemistry at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington.  When it comes to practicing the best functional medicine, Bland says look to plants for your healthiest options.

"If we go back to the cultures that have respected longevity and ask what they ate, we find that they're eating very hearty plants," he said on a recent podcast episode.

Healthy Drink 1: Oat Milk

Now, he has some additional recommendations on what to eat, and these may surprise you: oat (milk) and beer.

Okay, so Bland takes his oats in the warm bowlful topped with cinnamon or berries. But there's nothing wrong with the frothy espresso-topped kind, either, he adds.

"Oats have a lot of beta-glucan, which is a really important modulator of your microbiome," he says. That's right, eating or drinking oats keeps your gut healthy. Oats are also rich in vitamin E, phytic acid, and certain antioxidants that may help to reduce inflammation in the body.

Healthy Drink 2: Beer (Yes, Really)

Quarantine or not, having a beer now and then can take the edge off your stress levels. But it may have more benefits than just a gentle buzz. When it comes to beer, the hoppier, the better.

"Beer has hops in it," Bland says. "Hops are not only a bittering agent, but they are a bioactive member of the phytochemical families that stimulate insulin sensitivity and cause lipid metabolism."

Hops have been revered for their ability to help you sleep. You can get hops to extract on its own if you don't want the buzz (or calories) of beer. Consuming hops has also been linked to reducing the risks of metabolic syndrome.

But don't just grab any old beer. Look for something that's extra hoppy, says Bland. This flies in the face of conventional wisdom that you can get a "beer belly" or a gut from drinking beer. The moderate drinker appears to come out ahead. Studies on whether beer makes you fat are inconclusive since a moderate amount (17 ounces or less) does not appear to lead to increased body fat.

"Go for an IPA, because you have more of those isoflavones and humulones from the hops." But don't overdo it. "Just as with wine or tequila, it has to do with magnitude," he says.

No surprise that the father of functional medicine recommends balance.

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