The Beer Diet

Health advice for those of us who enjoy tipping back a few brews...
or sometimes a few too many!

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Gary's Natural Health Blog

To fully enjoy drinking beer for as long as you can, you have to take good care of your body.
And that's best done the natural way.

Cheers to Nature's Creepy-Crawlies

 By Gary Greenberg 
  SuperWriter, Inc.

    Normally, we like to enjoy beer with family and friends. For me, this includes my best furry friend Roxanne. She’s mostly American Staffordshire terrier (aka pit bull) with maybe a little boxer thrown in.

Roxanne's hoppy hour

    Roxanne always joins me for my “hoppy” hour beer out by the turtle pen. While I quaff a high potency craft beer or homebrew, Roxanne enjoys chewing up beer cans, as depicted in The Beer Diet Guy YouTube video, Roxanne, You Don’t Have to Chew That Can Tonight.

    And while we sip and chew, we feed some super-worms to our red-spotted turtle pal Dottie, who is a reptile. In general, reptiles are quite misunderstood. Just because they are not soft and cuddly, and a very small percentage of them are poisonous, people tend to be fearful or even repulsed by them.

    I happen to like reptiles because they are cool-looking and make for good, low maintenance pets. Of course, the anoles, bearded dragons and turtles I have befriended are all non-venomous. But ironically, venomous reptiles have actually benefitted mankind the most.

    Take the Gila monster for example. This southwestern American desert-dweller could almost kill you with its looks, and it’s one of only two North American lizards with a venomous bite. Yet the Gila monster is your friend, especially if you’re diabetic.

Gila monster
Gila monster

    That’s because an injectable drug derived from the Gila monster’s venom helps diabetes sufferers maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

    “Since the Gila monster sleeps all winter without eating, its pancreas shrinks and has to wake up in the spring,” says Dr. Leslie Boyer, Ph.D., founding director of the Venom, Immunochemistry, Pharmacology and Emergency Response Institute (VIPER) at the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine. “The chemicals in its venom that stimulate the metabolism of its own pancreas also work on humans. So the same thing that helps the Gila monster enjoy its lunch can help diabetics.”

    Like the Gila monster, venoms from various reptiles and other creepy-crawlies can also be used to heal. They are fast-acting and efficient in targeting molecules that cause disease, all due to how venomous creatures evolved alongside mammals.

Dr. Leslie Boyer
Dr. Leslie Boyer

    “As prey developed more complex systems to ward off venoms, the venoms adapted to become more efficient in doing something to nerves or the heart or to make blood vessels leak,” explains Boyer. “Now, these venoms are like a key for unlocking many targets in the human body. In large doses, they cause harm. But if we dole them out in little spritzes, they can become drugs to treat nerve pain or heart problems or blood clotting.”

    Here are some of Mother Nature’s creepy critters whose venoms and other biological compounds help heal humans from what ails them:

     Cone snail: The potent venom from this is fish-eating mollusk has as many as 200 different compounds, making it a veritable motherlode for possible pharmaceutical uses. In 2004, the government’s Food and Drug Administration approved a pain medication derived from one of the venom’s peptides. And scientists hope that other compounds may lead to drugs for epilepsy, heart disease and stroke.

Brazilian viper
Brazilian pit viper
Brazilian Pit Viper: The venom from this South American snake was used by scientists to develop one of the first ACE inhibitors, a type of medication to treat hypertension and congestive heart failure.

    Caribbean Sea Sponge: Two chemicals found in this large, shallow-water sponge have been used in developing anti-viral and anti-cancer medications, including AZT, a breakthrough AIDS treatment.

    Coho Salmon: Besides offering a wealth of nutrition when eaten, a hormone that Coho secrete to regulate their calcium levels led to the development of drugs called calcitonin-salmon that help aging humans prevent bone loss.    

Sea anemone
Sea anemone
    Sea Anemone: Peptides from the venom of this saltwater invertebrate block selective potassium channels, which tend to be defective in autoimmune disease sufferers. Early trials of a medication derived from these peptides show promise in treating multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and other autoimmune conditions.

Horseshoe Crab: After surviving for more than 200 million years, horseshoe crabs have seen it all as far as pathogens go. Their blue blood reacts to dangerous microbes and toxins by coagulating. Scientists today use this blood reaction to detect contamination in vaccines, antibiotics and implanted devices.  

    Maggots: These fly larvae feast on decaying matter and thereby gross out most humans. But they can be a lifesaver for people with chronic wounds and infections. By eating away diseased tissue, maggots can help save body parts from amputation. “I call them micro-surgeons,” says Oregon-based dermatologist Dr. Edgar Maeyens Jr. “Those little guys can (clean) a wound better than any guy with a knife.”  


    Leeches: The bloodsuckers have been used medicinally for more than 2,500 years. In olden times, they removed “bad” blood which was thought to cause disease. These days, they are mainly used in body part reattachment. While doctors repair arteries, small veins are left traumatized and unable to carry blood back into the circulatory system. Leeches serve as makeshift veins to sop up blood until the body can produce new veins.

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