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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Can Some Celiac Patients Drink Regular Beer?

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Celiac.com 06/17/2016 - What role does individual sensitivity play in celiac disease severity and reactions to gluten?

    Researchers in Italy reported on an interesting case of a of a man with a clear diagnosis of celiac disease who nevertheless drank gluten-containing beer, with no physical symptoms, and no clinical issues.

    The research team included Fabiana Zingone, Ilaria Russo, Angelo Massari, and Carolina Ciacci. They are variously affiliated with the Department of Medicine and Surgery, and the Department of Clinical Pathology and Transfusion Medicine at AOU San Giovanni di Dio e Ruggi D'Aragona in Salerno, Italy.

    The team found that a 4-week period of drinking gluten-containing beer did not provoke significant changes in the intestinal mucosa of this patient with celiac disease nor did it elicit any relevant symptoms. Blood antibody levels rose, but did not reach a pathological threshold.

    It is of course possible that a longer gluten challenge might lead to symptoms and to clinically relevant changes in IgA antitransglutaminase levels. In this case, though, the patient seemed fine and showed no signs of an adverse celiac disease reaction, even though he drank standard non-gluten-free beer.

    Celiac cases like this may be uncommon, but they do show that individual gluten sensitivity can impact symptoms, immunological response and intestinal mucosa health differently, depending on the patient. They also teach us how much more we have to learn about celiac disease.

    Source: BMJ Case Reports 2016; doi:10.1136/bcr-2016-214686


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    I am diagnosed celiac. I cannot eat gluten containing food, without severe pain, cramping, and diarrhea.One or two cookies or crackers, or one slice of bread, is all it takes.Yet I can handle beer fine. I only started a few months ago, I was afraid to try beer, but I was so tempted by all the flavored craft beers out there. My theory is that drinking beer may not be the same as ingesting food, because beer is drunk, rather than eaten, it might bypass the gut.

    For the record beer does not bypass the gut, but the fermentation process does break down the gluten significantly.

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    I was diagnosed with celiac several years ago and was quite shocked, as I consumed beer, bread, and all the other wonderful things like pizza at a rate probably exceeding the average and never had any noticeable symptoms. I protested but the doctor said it was a triple confirmed diagnosis (visual scallops, biopsy, and blood work, in that order). I gave up real beer and haven't found any really good gluten-free beers but occasionally "cheat" with pizza or cake, and do not notice any change. If it wasn't for the increased risk of colon cancer and lymphoma I'd probably go back to eating a normal diet. Does anybody else not really have any symptoms despite a firm diagnosis of celiac?

    Many celiacs don't have symptoms, but must still adhere to a strict gluten-free diet to avoid the higher risk of cancer and other additional autoimmune diseases.

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    I drink the Redbridge...decent! Someone told me that Heineken lite could be imbibed without fear of gluten sensitivity (I was diagnosed but no symptoms). Any thoughts on this? I noted above people talk about drinking lite beers with no problem.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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