Which Alcoholic Beverages Are Gluten-Free?
increasingly people are limiting the amount of gluten they eat, whether out of necessity or curiosity or to achieve certain health benefits.
One of the greatest difficulties with a gluten-free diet is that it requires you to avoid many common foods and drinks, including some alcoholic beverages.
This can make it challenging to know what to eat or drink, especially when you’re ordering at a restaurant or bar.
In this guide, I’ll share everything you need to know about gluten-free alcoholic beverages — including the difference between gluten-free and gluten-removed beers. You’ll also get specific brand recommendations and useful shopping tips.
“Gluten” is a term that refers to hundreds of proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye). The most common proteins in gluten are gliadin and glutenin (1Trusted Source).
Gluten is very resistant to enzymes that break down proteins in your gut, so it doesn’t always get digested completely.
When an incompletely digested chain of gluten proteins crosses over from the small intestine into the rest of the body, it can cause a variety of concerns, including (2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source):
- brain fog
- skin issues
People who are intolerant to gluten — such as in the case of celiac disease, wheat allergy, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity — are more likely to experience these concerns after ingesting gluten.
This inflammatory autoimmune disorder causes the small intestine to become inflamed when it comes into contact with gluten.
When people with celiac disease consume gluten-containing foods or drinks, the cells lining the inside of their small intestine become damaged. This causes concerns like nutrient malabsorption, diarrhea, and weight loss (2Trusted Source).
Other common symptoms of celiac disease include anemia, osteoporosis, brain fog, infertility, and skin concerns. Still, about half of people with celiac disease will experience virtually no symptoms at all (3Trusted Source).
Celiac disease can be diagnosed with a blood test or an intestinal biopsy. Currently, the only way to treat celiac disease is to follow a diet that’s completely gluten-free (3Trusted Source).
This allergic reaction can range in severity from mild nausea to life-threatening anaphylaxis — a severe complication that makes it hard to breathe (4Trusted Source).
Gluten is one of the many types of protein found in wheat. So, it’s possible for someone to be allergic to wheat but still tolerate gluten from other grains, such as barley or rye.
It’s also possible for someone to have both a wheat allergy and celiac disease. Wheat allergies are usually diagnosed through a blood test or skin-prick testing, and treatment requires following a wheat-free diet.
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity
Some people may still experience digestive concerns, such as bloating, pain, diarrhea, nausea, and reflux, when they eat gluten, even if they don’t have celiac disease or a wheat allergy (5Trusted Source).
In addition to intestinal symptoms, people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity often also experience a range of non-digestive symptoms after eating gluten.
These may include (5Trusted Source):
- blurred mind
- pain, including joint pain
- skin issues
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is diagnosed by first ruling out celiac disease and wheat allergy. The person can then be asked to follow a gluten-free diet for up to 6 weeks, after which gluten will be reintroduced to evaluate their reaction to it (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source).
Most people who suspect having a non-celiac gluten sensitivity report they experience a reduction in symptoms when following a gluten-free diet.