As you nurse your St. Patrick’s Day hangover next week, you might not be thinking that Guinness is good for you at all. But the brand famously touted its wellness benefits in advertising campaigns for decades beginning in the 1930s as it launched some of the most well-known ads in history: the “Guinness is Good for You” campaign.
We launched a similar campaign a few months ago arguing (very unscientifically) that gin can help you detox. Do either of these campaigns hold any water - or hold any Guinness or gin for that matter?
At the origins of the famous Guinness ads, the “research” that went into the campaign was pretty straightforward: marketers asked people how they felt after drinking a pint of Guinness, the obvious response being, “Good.” This led to doctors prescribing it to people that had recently had surgery as well as to expecting mothers, both prescriptions that seem completely nonsensical today.
You probably don’t think that Guinness will cure your hangover on March 18th, but real scientific evidence that Guinness may be good for you came around in the early 2000s. A study at the University of Wisconsin on canine subjects determined that a diet of Guinness taken with meals lessened the risk of blood clots around the heart. The study has not been repeated on humans but the researchers claimed the effects came from Guinness’ “antioxidant compounds”.
What a coincidence! That’s exactly the major reason we found that gin might be good for you in terms of detox. Many of the botanicals in gin when taken separately, steeped in tea or mixed with food, have similar antioxidant benefits. In fact, the original Dutch recipe of what became gin was used as a medicine before becoming a spirit.
We don’t have any modern-day scientific proof that gin will detoxify your body. But the general scientific consensus nowadays is that alcohol in moderation can be good for you, primarily for heart disease-related reasons found in the Wisconsin study. Surely the many antioxidant botanicals of gin can’t hurt and are even better for you than the few antioxidants found in Guinness? So if you’re into drinking your craft gin in small doses for the pleasure of its taste, rest assured that you’re doing some good to your body.