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Can people with celiac disease drink beer?

Dr Neha Sanwalka answers this query.

Written by Kriti Saraswat |Updated : February 25, 2015 2:26 AM IST

Beer is one of the most consumed beverages around the world. If research is to be believed, it does have its fair share of health benefits when consumed in moderate quantities. (Click here to know its benefits). But these days, several people are opting for a gluten-free diet and eliminating wheat, barley, etc. from their meals. While some are taking this step deliberately, people who suffer from celiac disease need to eat gluten-free food to survive. Does this mean they cannot drink beer too? Here s what Dr Neha Sanwalka has to say.

A person suffering from celiac disease cannot drink normal beer. They can however drink gluten-free beer which does not have anything that will cause a reaction.Celiac disease is an auto-immune disorder in which a person cannot digest gluten a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Beer is normally made by brewing either barley or wheat and hence has high contents of gluten in it, she says.

What can happen if they drink beer?

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Our small intestine is lined with tiny, finger-shaped tissues called villi that absorb vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. If a person suffering from celiac disease consumes beer, the gluten in the beer can flatten the villi and damage the intestinal lining. Read is gluten-free just a fad?

As a result the person will not be able to absorb many nutrients that can cause anaemia, osteoporosis, other mineral and vitamin deficiencies, pancreatic insufficiency, gall bladder malfunction, intestinal lymphoma, and certain neurological diseases.

Which alcoholic drinks are safe for them?

Any alcoholic drink which is not made from brewing barley, wheat or rye is safe for a person suffering from celiac disease. These include:

  • Bourbon
  • Brandy
  • Champagne
  • Cider made from fruits or apple
  • Cognac made from grapes
  • Gin
  • Kahlua
  • Martini
  • Rum
  • Sparkling Wine
  • Scotch
  • Sherry
  • Tequila
  • Vermouth distilled from grapes
  • Vodka
  • Wine

What is gluten-free beer?

As per Food and Drug Administration (FDA) a product can be labelled gluten-free if it has gluten content of less than 20 ppm (parts per million) as gluten level below 20 ppm is considered to be safe for a person suffering from celiac disease. So, a person suffering from celiac disease can have a beer labelled gluten-free. Do you know the number of calories in beer?

So whether you are on a gluten-free diet on purpose or you have celiac disease, avoid beer and switch to other alcoholic beverages. Even so, make sure you do not drink too much as alcohol has harmful effects too. Read here.

Image source: Shutterstock


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