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It’s OK, Have a Beer

There are a few things in life that I have found to have the same satisfying results as a tall, chilled glass of beer. I’m not speaking purely of the physiological affect of the alcohol, in fact that’s pretty far down on my list. I’m speaking of all of the other wonderful aspects of what a glass of beer is or what it represents. Having a beer usually means I’ve accomplished a task, and it’s time to relax. Then there is the social aspect, perhaps I’ll be with friends, sharing what’s going on in their lives, maybe we’re at an event or just hanging out. The exploration of the immense variety of beer is enough of a hook for me. I see it as a virtual vacation. A glass of beer often represents the traditions, culture, and history of its point of origin.

Some of my favorites have been made from breweries that have been in operation since the mid 1600’s! There are very few things in life, so easily obtainable, that can claim that sort of provenance. According to the Beer Judge Certification Program; there are 28 styles of beer, mead, and cider, and hundreds of sub-styles within. The brewers association states that 1,753 breweries operated for some or all of 2010, the highest total since the late-1800s. That’s just craft brewers, throw in imports and the major brands and you’d have what I’d say is the best time in our history to be a beer lover in this country!

By now, you are wondering what the heck does this have anything to do with midlife health. It seems like the entire healthcare industry has been looking down their collective noses at beer for years; why are you putting it on a pedestal? Well I think we have to look at things at face value, and after water and tea, beer is the world’s most consumed drink. Just that fact is enough to bring it up for discussion. I also look at this from the concept of balance. What is the point of being healthy and living a disease free life if you can’t enjoy it?  I’m not saying is it’s perfectly ok to down a 6 pack after work everyday. In the wise and ancient words of Chilo, one of the Seven Sages of ancient Greece, “meden agan” or “nothing in excess” certainly applies with this subject.

Please by all means; heed your Doctor’s advice, strive to eat healthy foods, and avoid the fast-fried-super-sized American diet that is racing half of our population an early grave with pit stops at the emergency room. Exercise to the point of breathing hard and breaking a sweat, at least three times a week. But also, take an hour or two every so often; to enjoy just sipping a brew, or whatever your pleasure, with a few friends at the end of the day. We as humans need that social interaction, to let our guard down among those we trust; to share our problems and our triumphs. It’s tribal. I used to do this from time to time on Wednesdays after work, it was a joyful tradition that I truly miss. Admittedly, it’s much easier when you don’t have kids to take to sports 4 days a week or your job demands that you work until the sun is setting, or it takes you an hour to drive home from work each evening. Try though; schedule it as an appointment if you have to, even if it’s once every three months.

It’s so easy to get caught up in what seems important in our lives. We dwell on it and can carry around a tremendous amount of stress, not realizing it. That is until you sit back, relax with friends, and have a beer. Cheers to a Healthy Midlife!

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