How long could a human being survive on beer?

A few weeks? A few months?

Beer has plenty of water, so there’s no problem keeping hydrated. It also has protein, fiber and several B-vitamins. Would you be able to drink enough beer to get some nutritional benefit without ruining your liver?

What would kill you first, the inevitable vitamin deficiencies (A, C and E) or liver damage?

If the beer was weak enough, like it used to be in the old days (drinking ‘small beer’ instead of water was actually a way of avoiding nasty things like cholera, because the brewing process started off with the water being boiled), then you wouldn’t have to worry about the liver damage, well, not too much.

As a single food, it is rich in carbohydrates and probably contains a few interesting trace components, but it is lacking almost entirely in fats and protein, which are essential in the diet.

The obvious answer: four years of college.

Really, I think the vitamin deficiencies will get you quicker. Your cite doesn’t give enough information, but I’d be inclined (based on experience) to think that you’d actually probably starve long before. I think it takes a couple weeks of no food to do one in, so you’re probably looking at a month. Albeit a potentially very happy month, although one would probably sleep through most of it.

As with Cecil’s Can man live by bread alone? column, one needs to specify the details of the comestible … Certainly, some beers have much higher concentrations of nutrients, including proteins and complex carbohydrates (though I think the fat content will be very low in any type). One could theoretically last quite a while on a brew like this.

I give you a week on Bud Lite. :smiley:

Actually, IIRC, the problem is that your body actually uses more water to get rid of the alchohol than is in the beer itself. That’s why you wake up with so-called ‘cottonmouth’ after a night of drinking.

A few years at least, if you drink the right kind of beers. A good mix of Belgian Trappist Trippels, mixed with some Doppelbocks, ought to give you the calories you need, along with most of the nutrients. Add in some Berliner Weisse, other German Wheat beers, and some mutant American Fruit beers and you have your Vitamin C taken care of. Chocolate Stouts fill that candy craving, and a good Framboise cleans the palate. :smiley:

If this is a proposal for a Government Grant, I hereby volunteer as a test subject!

During the Middle Ages, Trappist monks in Holland and what is now Belgium fasted for Lent each year. Practically all they took in was their beer, a nice cloudy brew.

I’ve actually been particularly curious about this for some time. I would think that the low percentage of alcohol in beer (generally speaking) might result in a net gain of water (and thus no hangover). Certainly there has to be a percentage low enough when the hydrating effects dominate the dehydrating ones. Anyone know the percentage where net gain becomes net loss?

I always love passing this around:

Is it possible to live on Guinness and milk? Answer: no, you also need orange juice. And the lack of fiber can lead to other health problems.

So, if you drank only 47 pints of Guinness a day, you would only have to deal with a lack of calcium, vitamin C and fat. Is fat really necessary to survive? Guiness has 210 calories, so that would mean you’re taking in about 10000 calories per day, which wouldn’t be a “low cal” diet by any stretch.

I’d expect scurvy would get you before osteoperosis. This site says that scurvy occurs after 3 months without any vitamin C (probably depending on how much was “stored” in your body), although I couldn’t find how much longer after that death occurs.

ROFL :smiley:

I was also quite curious about this for some time, I just refused to believe that something which is mostly water could dehydrate you. But, a friend of mine says it is not the lack of water, but rather the fact that alcohol inhibits your body’s ability to use this water. It just flushes it out essentially. Apparantly caffeine does the same thing. I don’t have time to give the detailed information right now (have an exam very soon). I’m sure someone else will stop by to provide this before I get a chance to later, but otherwise I’ll post it when I get a chance.

Otherwise, I can say that Guinness does work as a substitute for dinner if you have to choose between eating and drinking as the money runs out at the end of the semester. Two days in a row of this is tough though. You start to feel awfully lightheaded…

I know what somebody’s planning on doing for their Summer Vacation! :smiley:

I’m not sure about alcohol, but it’s not true for coffee. It’s been discussed here a lot (eg Just caffeine that dehydrates in coffee?) and the conclusion is always that

Here’s another cite:

[ul][li]When consuming a caffeinated beverage, the body retains some of the fluid.[/li][li]Moderate caffeine consumption causes a mild diuresis very similar to that of water (water, when consumed in large volume, increases urine output).[/li][li]A person who regularly consumes caffeine has a higher tolerance to the diuretic effect.[/li][li]There is no evidence that consumption of caffeinated beverages causes a fluid-electrolyte imbalance that is detrimental to health or exercise performance.[/ul][/li][/quote]

I’d be happy to see the same stats for alcohol though.

42 years and counting.

“Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish , and he’ll drink for a lifetime.”

So, to answer the OP with a question, is your example a fisherman?

I don’t think you’re right. Care to back that up with a scientific cite?

Becuase my dad used to go fishing with Portugese fishermen. All they had to drink on the boat was wine. No fresh water at all. And they’d stay out occ for a couple of days, doing very heavy work in sometimes hot sun. Sure, now- my dad, since he wasn’t used to it, would get thirsty for something else, and a bit tipsy, but they had no problem with it. And, I worked with contractors who - after their moring coffee- would only drink beer all day long- in the hot sun, with very hard labor.

The roman legions would march for weeks on weak watered wine with a bit of vinegar. On sailing ships, the men drank small beer if they could, and not water.

I think that the anti-booze people just took a fact (alcoholic beverages dehydrate you) and then expanded that to even beverages with low alcohol content. My ancedotes and historical reading contradicts this.

This site does not support your anecdotes regarding wine, but does support the contention that beer may not cause dehydration, at least under certain circumstances:

I’ll let you know how it goes

Fear Itself: The wine could well have been watered, so that the alcohol was then about 4.5%, so that would fit in with the study.

Here’s an old e-mail I saved from years ago.

>Taken from Q&----A in NEW SCIENTIST magazine:
>Q. I have heard that it is possible to live on Guinness and milk alone.
>Is this true, or even partially true?
>A. This is not quite true. Guinness does contain many vitamins
>and minerals in small quantities, but is lacking vitamin C, as well
>as calcium and fat…
>So, to fulfill all of your daily nutritional requirements, you
>would need to drink a glass of orange juice, two glasses of milk,
>and 47 pints of Guinness…
>University of Nottingham