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    Distilled Spirits (Grain Alcohols) and Vinegar: Are they Gluten-Free?


    Megan Tichy

    What is Gluten?


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    Gluten is a huge molecule held together by smaller molecules linked together called amino acids. A very tiny part of the gluten molecule can initiate a response. If each amino acid that makes up gluten is represented as a single letter that very tiny part would be: SGQGSFQPSQQ. There are other sequences of amino acids that cause a reaction in gluten sensitive individuals, but the point is, as tiny as this fragment is with respect to the entire gluten protein, it is still HUGE with respect to the size of ethanol (the stuff you are drinking).

    What is Alcohol?

    The alcohol you drink is ethanol. Ethanol is smaller than the size of the smallest amino acid in the smallest fragment of gluten that has been shown to initiate an autoimmune reaction. More specifically, ethanol is about 10 atomic mass units smaller than just the G in the sequence shown above.

    What are Amino Acids?

    The G is glycine, and by the way, each of these amino acids (represented by letters) by themselves is safe, and sold at most health food stores. For example Q = glutamine (yes, “L-glutamine,” the same amino acid mentioned in a recent post and used to heal intestinal damage). If the protein is viewed as beads on a string, then one of those beads might be good for you, but certain sequences strung together can initiate an allergic reaction of many types from acute peanut allergy to less-than-obvious gluten sensitivity.

    What is Distillation?

    When a distillation is performed, pure ethanol is separated away from all of the other “stuff” that forms as a result of fermentation. This is because ethanol is volatile (meaning it becomes a gas in the distillation process). Imagine a vat of fermentation products, you heat it, and only the volatile molecules like ethanol enter a tube attached to the vat. This tube is not just any tube - it is a curved condensation tube! Here is what it does: While the heated gas form of ethanol floats into it (because that is what gases do), the molecules are cooled and condense back into a liquid, and fall into a new sparkling clean vessel containing the stuff that intoxicates you and any other volatiles. So the fancier distillation columns that are actually used industrially also purify the ethanol away from other volatiles. Gluten does not stand a chance of “crossing over” because it is not volatile.

    Here is a simplified analogy. Let's say you put some sand in the bottom of your tea kettle. If you take the spout off your tea kettle, and attach a condensing tube to the opening (a curved tube would be the simplest type of condensing tube but there are many elaborate types), you could distill your water away from the sand. The condensing tube would be curved so as to open into a new clean pot. Let us pretend that the sand is gluten and the water is ethanol. When you heat to the boiling point, the liquid becomes gas so it travels into the condenser, cools and becomes liquid, then falls into the clean pot.

    Now having read that, is there any way that the new clean pot would contain any sand? No, and distilled alcohol (ethanol) does not contain any gluten. Remember, gluten is not volatile. Another non-volatile compound is table salt. So you could perform a distillation at home, with salt water. Has anyone ever inadvertently done this? Boiled a pot of salt water, perhaps to make some Tinkyada pasta, and walked away to do something else. You came back to find your pot almost empty with white crusty stuff (salt) all inside the pot.

    So the gluten is left behind in a distillation process. If malt is added to the distilled product it will be disclosed on the ingredients label.

    What is Vinegar?

    Vinegar is formed by fermentation in a similar way that ethanol is formed by fermentation. The process is to take ethanol and ferment it with bacteria. Later, there is a filtration to remove the bacteria. Rarely, vinegar is fermented from wheat-based alcohol. “Distilled vinegar,” gets its name from the fact that it was fermented from distilled alcohol.

    Why is Vinegar Still Questioned?

    The answer could be, perhaps, because so many people report a reaction to it and vinegar-based products. The never-ending fear is that cross-contamination during the fermentation process is leading to barely detectable amounts of gluten in the finished product (by barely detectable, I mean in terms of commercially available tests). Since the vinegar is rarely distilled post fermentation from the ethanol, the “messy” nature of the second fermentation step could pose a problem, especially for highly sensitive individuals. If the alcohol gets all used up by the bacteria, the bacteria go on to form carbon dioxide and water from the vinegar. So alcohol is periodically added in the fermentation process. Conceivably, one “shortcut” would be to just add beer at this juncture. Adding beer or some other form of cheap malted alcohol would keep the culture alive, and increase the “quality” and yield of the vinegar. Another fear is that the bacterial “mother” as it is called, contains trace gluten through cross-contamination. Claims that these practices actually take place are unsubstantiated by evidence.

    Why are Distilled Spirits Still Questioned?

    That is a good question, I do not know.

    Take a Short Quiz on this Topic:

    1. You bought mustard and pickles at the grocery store. These products contain “distilled vinegar” according to the ingredients labels, and the label does NOT say “contains: wheat.” Are the mustard and pickles gluten-free?
    2. Rum, gin, whiskey, and vodka are distilled beverages. If they are not flavored with something that contains wheat (would be declared on the label), rye, or barley (usually in the form of “malt”), are they gluten-free? 
    3. What is wrong with the following statements (they have all been cut and pasted from various blogs and forums on the topic of celiac disease)?a. “Most alcohols are distilled in such a way that any wheat gluten is no longer present.”b. “Even trace amounts of gluten that make it past the filter system can be harmful.”c. “It seems improbable to me, too, that gliadin could survive the distillation process.”

    Answers:
    1. Yes, unless you have reason to believe otherwise, in which case you should simply avoid them.
    2. Yes.
    3. 3a. All alcohols, if distilled, have been removed from any type of gluten.
      3b. Distillation is nothing like a filtration. We are not separating small from large, there is no filter. Filtration would be like how your coffee pot separates water from the coffee grains. A tear in the filter would result in a big problem, right? Filtration is a separation based on size, distillation is a separation based on volatility.
      3c. Do we care whether gliadin (a name given to part of wheat gluten) “survives” the process or not? No, because it has been left behind to stew in its own juices in the distillation pot. Your stuff (the ethanol) has floated away, and entered a new, clean pot. Some people have this idea that we heat the fermented mixture to smithereens and it somehow decomposes the molecules of gluten. Clearly, such a process would be ineffective or else we could simply “cook,” “roast,” “fry,” or “burn” the gluten out of our foods, and we know that we cannot do that.

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    Guest Diane Hurd

    Posted

    Very good, understandable language and correlates with other articles already read on the same subject. Definitely would read everything this author writes on the subject. Thank you!

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    I didn't know it, but a dressing I ate on a daily basis had switched from cider vinegar to distilled vinegar. I was getting more sick everyday. I had to go back to a very bland diet and then slowly add everything I had been eating, one product at a time. Then I read the label, stopped using the dressing and started to get better. I am a very sensitive celiac, but I raise this question. If as you say, a sensitive celiac could see have problems with distilled products, isn't it very possible that other celiacs are also damaging themselves without any symptoms? I know others who can't have distilled vinegar and they aren't as sensitive as myself.

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    Guest Justin

    Posted

    Clearly, more than just ethanol makes it through the distillation process, otherwise all distilled alcohols would just be Everclear--and indistinguishable from one another in taste or appearance. I think the fear was/is that, because more than Ethanol makes it through, could gluten be one of the "other" things that gets carried along?

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    I appreciate the teaching that has occurred in this article. I understand the science behind alcohol being gluten free BUT I still have a reaction to any that is distilled through grains. At first I thought my reactions may have been psychosomatic. Maybe it's just because I am questioning the validity of truly being gluten free. But not too long ago I had a very serious reaction and did research on the drink I had, Indeed it was a wheat/Barley vodka. I believe that for most people it may be fine. BUT I have always been super sensitive and am continually reminded that I must be careful.

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    Excellent article. This could not have been any more clear and to the point with regard to distillation and gluten-sensitivity. Great read!

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    Clearly, more than just ethanol makes it through the distillation process, otherwise all distilled alcohols would just be Everclear--and indistinguishable from one another in taste or appearance. I think the fear was/is that, because more than Ethanol makes it through, could gluten be one of the "other" things that gets carried along?

    Justin, the author never claimed that no other substances weren't volatile. She merely discussed ethanol and gluten for simplification. Obviously, water is volatile and would make it through distillation along with the ethanol. This is why all distillation wouldn't result in Everclear. If gluten is present in a distilled alcohol, I would suspect contamination (whether intentional or unintentional) after the distillation process.

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    Susie and Sarah- agreed.

     

    I completely understand the process of distillation. I've done it myself many times in a lab. What I don't understand is how I have reacted time after time after time to products that I find out later contained distilled vinegar or alcohol that is wheat-derived.

     

    I appreciate this article's clear explanations. I just can't seem to make the connection between the logical science and my reality.

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    I am also a very sensitive celiac. I rarely drink, because I no longer desire the taste (spilled out many drinks in the past). But even when I want to have one to be "social" or celebrate a special occasion, I double check & make sure to "go over" the distillation process & ingredients- just not worth getting sick over, from carelessness. This may sound weird but, I have noticed that top shelf alcohol seems to make a difference w me. I even enjoy the taste when all is well! I mix with cranberry or fruit juices & still keep it "very" limited though, better safe than sorry. I just happened to look at a list of gluten free beers today, from the "Gluten Free Beer Festival of 2006". Get a craving once in a great while, may try one of them in the future.

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    Guest margaret

    Posted

    Good article.I always buy only triple distilled myself, just to be on the safe side.

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    I appreciate the teaching that has occurred in this article. I understand the science behind alcohol being gluten free BUT I still have a reaction to any that is distilled through grains. At first I thought my reactions may have been psychosomatic. Maybe it's just because I am questioning the validity of truly being gluten free. But not too long ago I had a very serious reaction and did research on the drink I had, Indeed it was a wheat/Barley vodka. I believe that for most people it may be fine. BUT I have always been super sensitive and am continually reminded that I must be careful.

    Sarah, I have had the same experience and I don't believe that distillation means gluten free. I, as you started looking at distilled alcohol AFTER I had a reaction. Before that I hadn't even thought alcohol could be a culprit. Those who are very sensitive should just stick to things like rum, sake and wine. All the ingredients are gluten free and I have never had a problem with any of these.

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    Susie: If the company switched to distilled v from cider v, then maybe they changed the factory around a bit too. Many times when an ingredient changes, it's not just because the ingredient itself was cheaper, but because the product is manufactured somewhere else, or, in these economic times, manufactured on shared equipment with other products in order to lay off a few workers. So most likely, your reaction was triggered by poor manufacturing practices with no segregation of malicious gluten bits.

    I have had this problem with Walmart's new packages of snack foods. It used to say gluten free on the Great Value brand, but now the packaging changed from blue to white, and it no longer states that it's gluten-free.

    Others: Is it possible that your reaction was that of cheap alcohol? I get really sick off many bottom shelf brands, simply because of the impurities (like poisonous alcohols and the like). Oh, and Justin, other alcohols taste different because of the way they are aged and the like (eg in wooden barrels) and the additives (eg juniper berries in gin), NOT because of the distillation process.

    Like the author said, watch out for "malt" and we are fine.

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    I think the author makes perfectly scientific points, and I agree with them. I am not a celiac, however my fiance is. I have noticed two things:

    1. If he drinks soon after a minor contamination he gets ill. I mean really ill. In my estimation, it is not that the booze contains gluten, but the damaging of an already sensitive system that causes the horrible following reaction.

    2. Sometimes when people drink they lose the total control that they would ordinarily retain. I have heard my fiance, after a couple of drinks relax the standards he usually carries on food because he is drunk. Maybe this is a culprit.

    I also have one more comment to add about the alcohol. As was already noted, very few liquors that are sold contain pure ethanol. It would kill you. Most of them are diluted and flavored after the fact. I would guess from the color of many alcohols that they use caramel coloring (barley) and maltodextrin (malt=bad) and any number of "natural flavorings" that they are not necessarily required to itemize. My fiance stays away from anything colored (whiskey, scotch, bourbon, gold tequila) or flavored (gin, flavored vodkas etc.). Stick to things that are fermented directly from gluten free foods, (i.e. sake, wine, silver tequila). Good luck!

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    Guest Diane Lester

    Posted

    As a scientist I would have also assumed that distillation removes gluten from vinegar and alcohol. However my gut feeling is that it does not (I am highly sensitive to gluten and have a highly controlled diet). I have puzzled over this and conclude that it is possible for a distilled product derived from wheat to contain trace gluten for the following reasons

    1. the distillation process is not 100% efficient. Boiling a liquid causes it to vaporize, however it also causes the formation of aerosols (tiny droplets of liquid). These aerosols have the potential to carry gluten into the distilled product. Anyone who has worked in a laboratory will known it is standard practice to distill water twice because one round of distillation does not make water absolutely pure.

    2. Gluten has unusual solubility, being insoluble in water and highly soluble in alcohol. I believe it is also highly soluble in acid. Alcohol and vinegar are prepared from the starch fraction of wheat, which is known to contain residual gluten. This gluten probably concentrates in alcohol and vinegar because they render it highly soluble.

    The only way to demonstrate that vinegar and alcohol derived from wheat are safe for celiac disease patients is to perform a clinical trial which includes patients of all degrees of sensitivity. This has never been done and is logistically daunting.

    Gluten detection methods have shortcomings which mean they cannot, on their own, be used to declare a food safe (I have written a peer-reviewed journal article on this subject Lester DR (2008) Gluten measurement and its relationship to food toxicity for celiac disease patients. Plant Methods. 2008 Oct 28;4:26).

    My impression is that there is sufficient anecdotal evidence from forums within celiac disease support groups to raise doubt about alcohol and vinegar.

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    As a scientist I would have also assumed that distillation removes gluten from vinegar and alcohol. However my gut feeling is that it does not (I am highly sensitive to gluten and have a highly controlled diet). I have puzzled over this and conclude that it is possible for a distilled product derived from wheat to contain trace gluten for the following reasons

    1. the distillation process is not 100% efficient. Boiling a liquid causes it to vaporize, however it also causes the formation of aerosols (tiny droplets of liquid). These aerosols have the potential to carry gluten into the distilled product. Anyone who has worked in a laboratory will known it is standard practice to distill water twice because one round of distillation does not make water absolutely pure.

    2. Gluten has unusual solubility, being insoluble in water and highly soluble in alcohol. I believe it is also highly soluble in acid. Alcohol and vinegar are prepared from the starch fraction of wheat, which is known to contain residual gluten. This gluten probably concentrates in alcohol and vinegar because they render it highly soluble.

    The only way to demonstrate that vinegar and alcohol derived from wheat are safe for celiac disease patients is to perform a clinical trial which includes patients of all degrees of sensitivity. This has never been done and is logistically daunting.

    Gluten detection methods have shortcomings which mean they cannot, on their own, be used to declare a food safe (I have written a peer-reviewed journal article on this subject Lester DR (2008) Gluten measurement and its relationship to food toxicity for celiac disease patients. Plant Methods. 2008 Oct 28;4:26).

    My impression is that there is sufficient anecdotal evidence from forums within celiac disease support groups to raise doubt about alcohol and vinegar.

    I, like many of the people who have responded to this article, react to distilled alcohols. So, while I find this article helpful to some extent, I actually found Diane's answer more relevant to what my gut tells me. Thanks Diane!

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    Guest Joe_Crawford

    Posted

    As a scientist I would have also assumed that distillation removes gluten from vinegar and alcohol. However my gut feeling is that it does not (I am highly sensitive to gluten and have a highly controlled diet). I have puzzled over this and conclude that it is possible for a distilled product derived from wheat to contain trace gluten for the following reasons

    1. the distillation process is not 100% efficient. Boiling a liquid causes it to vaporize, however it also causes the formation of aerosols (tiny droplets of liquid). These aerosols have the potential to carry gluten into the distilled product. Anyone who has worked in a laboratory will known it is standard practice to distill water twice because one round of distillation does not make water absolutely pure.

    2. Gluten has unusual solubility, being insoluble in water and highly soluble in alcohol. I believe it is also highly soluble in acid. Alcohol and vinegar are prepared from the starch fraction of wheat, which is known to contain residual gluten. This gluten probably concentrates in alcohol and vinegar because they render it highly soluble.

    The only way to demonstrate that vinegar and alcohol derived from wheat are safe for celiac disease patients is to perform a clinical trial which includes patients of all degrees of sensitivity. This has never been done and is logistically daunting.

    Gluten detection methods have shortcomings which mean they cannot, on their own, be used to declare a food safe (I have written a peer-reviewed journal article on this subject Lester DR (2008) Gluten measurement and its relationship to food toxicity for celiac disease patients. Plant Methods. 2008 Oct 28;4:26).

    My impression is that there is sufficient anecdotal evidence from forums within celiac disease support groups to raise doubt about alcohol and vinegar.

    From my own experience, Russian (pure) potato vodka, if you can still find it, and just about any of the rums are the only alcohols that I can tolerate (I use to buy scotch by the case). Since I developed Celiac, and I've tested it several times, I get a reaction from scotch, beer and whiskey. During the distillation process there are contaminants the bootleggers back home (the Blue Ridges) called fusel oils. These distill off at various temperatures both below and above that alcohol. They are what give various liquors and whiskeys their distinct (i.e., both good and bad) taste. Usually the ones that distill off at lower temperatures are beneficial, those a higher temperatures give the whiskey a solvent like taste. At least in my case, something in the low temp oils gives me the same reaction that I get from gluten.

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    I think the problem with white distilled vinegar is that it turns to a poison in the body. For that reason, we avoid all white distilled vinegar except to clean with. Apple cider vinegar is NOT the same so that is probably why there isn't a problem with that one.

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    Guest diana pechnick

    Posted

    These comments were very informative.

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    Guest Sarah L.

    Posted

    Susie and Sarah- agreed.

     

    I completely understand the process of distillation. I've done it myself many times in a lab. What I don't understand is how I have reacted time after time after time to products that I find out later contained distilled vinegar or alcohol that is wheat-derived.

     

    I appreciate this article's clear explanations. I just can't seem to make the connection between the logical science and my reality.

    Susie, Sarah, Elle -

     

    Same boat here guys, same boat. What is odd is, I can tolerate trace amounts of gluten in other products, but not alcohol. There is a very definitive outcome that results from drinking wheat based boozes, and it is unmistakably celiac (though I wish I could chalk it up to something else I ate, as I do enjoy a cocktail).

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    Guest Stacey Zappacosta

    Posted

    Many of you celiac's that react to vinegar are probably sensitive to yeast and fermented products. Celiac, gluten intolerance and yeast allergies are usually connected because of "leaky gut".

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    Guest T.H.

    Posted

    I appreciate Diane explaining the distillation process, because from the various blogs and forums I read, it seems that there is a lot of confusion about the process, and how scientifically it makes it impossible for gluten molecules to somehow make it through distillation.

     

    However, I was very disappointed in one aspect. Saying that we have nothing to fear from distilled products is, I feel, doing celiac's a disfavor, because it presumes two things that I don't believe are true: people never make mistakes, and all factories are perfect.

     

    If a factory is using products with gluten, then the possibility of contamination after distillation exists. It may not be a high probability of contamination if proper safety standards are used, but...can we guarantee that every facility that is distilling alcohol is concerned about contamination afterward? I don't believe we can - in fact, based on the the history of food production, I'd say the odds are in favor of some facilities having poorer standards and higher chances of contaminating their products post-distillation.

     

    So for those who are sensitive like me, that may mean that 1 out of 4 times I'll be fine with an alcohol distilled from wheat, and one time I'll react because I get a contaminated batch.

     

    It's disheartening to have people's reports of reactions dismissed out of hand, just as so many of us had our celiac symptoms dismissed in the first place. And I feel that we fail to truly examine the problem if we look at it only in terms of a process in theory rather than looking at how the processing works in the real world.

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    Guest Laura F.

    Posted

    Clearly distinguished between distillation and filtration!

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    Guest Marion

    Posted

    Recently diagnosed with celiac condition, I find the articles very informative. Thanks to these folks.

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    As a scientist I would have also assumed that distillation removes gluten from vinegar and alcohol. However my gut feeling is that it does not (I am highly sensitive to gluten and have a highly controlled diet). I have puzzled over this and conclude that it is possible for a distilled product derived from wheat to contain trace gluten for the following reasons

    1. the distillation process is not 100% efficient. Boiling a liquid causes it to vaporize, however it also causes the formation of aerosols (tiny droplets of liquid). These aerosols have the potential to carry gluten into the distilled product. Anyone who has worked in a laboratory will known it is standard practice to distill water twice because one round of distillation does not make water absolutely pure.

    2. Gluten has unusual solubility, being insoluble in water and highly soluble in alcohol. I believe it is also highly soluble in acid. Alcohol and vinegar are prepared from the starch fraction of wheat, which is known to contain residual gluten. This gluten probably concentrates in alcohol and vinegar because they render it highly soluble.

    The only way to demonstrate that vinegar and alcohol derived from wheat are safe for celiac disease patients is to perform a clinical trial which includes patients of all degrees of sensitivity. This has never been done and is logistically daunting.

    Gluten detection methods have shortcomings which mean they cannot, on their own, be used to declare a food safe (I have written a peer-reviewed journal article on this subject Lester DR (2008) Gluten measurement and its relationship to food toxicity for celiac disease patients. Plant Methods. 2008 Oct 28;4:26).

    My impression is that there is sufficient anecdotal evidence from forums within celiac disease support groups to raise doubt about alcohol and vinegar.

    Diane, you just described what I suspect is the primary reason why distilled spirits have gotten this inaccurate rap for gluten content: Gluten solubility.

     

    The majority of these anecdotal stories involve people who were *not* drinking at home, of drinks they'd prepared themselves. It's folks who are out, either at a party, a bar, a restaurant, etc.

     

    You then point out that gluten is highly soluble in alcohol, which means that if you've been exposed to contamination, the alcohol is going to ensure that you absorb that contamination and disseminate it throughout your system. Further, as we're all well aware, *any* time you eat or drink away from your own home, you are at risk for exposure, because non-celiacs simply don't understand how we're affected. Every single one of us has been poisoned by cross-contamination, most of us multiple times. Blaming the alcohol for facilitating the exposure is like blaming the full moon for an uptick in emergency room visits simply because any uptick which occurs during a full moon gets noted, while any uptick on any other night is simply ignored for what it is: Random chance . It's caused by selective observation, not an underlying truth. I'm sure plenty of celiacs have had reactions after drinking tequila or other non-grain-sourced liquors and either correctly assumed they were poisoned by some other contamination, or incorrectly assumed that the liquor must've had some grain portion. (Mexican distillers find sugar a much cheaper starting point than imported wheat, and even cheap tequila is highly unlikely to have been borne of any gluten-containing source). Adulterated spirits, like gin, are certainly suspect. I'm completely puzzled by mention of caramel colorings or flavorings as a source of gluten -- both are made from carbohydrates, not proteins. Why would you make them from a starchy source that would require enzymatic action to convert it into a sugar prior to the caramelization process? To me, the moral of all these anecdotal stories is simple: Don't drink when you're away from home unless you're eating food which is virtually impossible to cross-contaminate. I don't know much about how industrial tests for gluten work, but I would be very surprised if well-made whiskies or vodkas were found to contain gluten, assuming those tests ever become accurate or sensitive enough to give a reliable result. Anecdotal evidence is always a dangerous thing to rely on. It's why we can't turn on our ipods on an airplane unless it's at cruising altitude, why many gas stations have warning signs telling you that using a cell phone while pumping gas could cause an explosion, and why many parents insist on refusing to vaccinate their children. If we're to rely on anecdotal evidence, can we at least rely on *good* anecdotal evidence? Let's have some of our brave celiac brethren enlist the aid of their spouses, and engage in blind booze exposures at home, where contamination can be controlled. Some nights mix the drinks with a "suspect" alcohol, like scotch. Other nights, use a "safe" alcohol, like potato vodka. If you get several reactions to the suspect, but none to the safe, you'll have an anecdote we can sink our teeth into. Otherwise, I suspect these reports prove what we already know: The outside world is littered heavily with gluten, and we eat in public (sadly) often at our own risk.

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    Guest Anna B2

    Posted

    I am new to this from a personal standpoint. I have just in the last few months started exhibiting symptoms that made me think there is a real problem, but my dad was diagnosed a couple of years ago with a positive DQ. He doesn't remember which one. My daughter, however, had positive allergy tests for multiple food allergies at the age of 2, including wheat, for which she has recently at the age of 6 tested negative. Fortunately??? I think she still has an intolerance after the poor child has been gorging on all the food she wasn't allowed before.

     

    I like the article. Very informative. Diane Lester's post is excellent for filling in any scientific gaps, and Amen to T.H. The real world is where we are, not in the laboratory.

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    I think the author makes perfectly scientific points, and I agree with them. I am not a celiac, however my fiance is. I have noticed two things:

    1. If he drinks soon after a minor contamination he gets ill. I mean really ill. In my estimation, it is not that the booze contains gluten, but the damaging of an already sensitive system that causes the horrible following reaction.

    2. Sometimes when people drink they lose the total control that they would ordinarily retain. I have heard my fiance, after a couple of drinks relax the standards he usually carries on food because he is drunk. Maybe this is a culprit.

    I also have one more comment to add about the alcohol. As was already noted, very few liquors that are sold contain pure ethanol. It would kill you. Most of them are diluted and flavored after the fact. I would guess from the color of many alcohols that they use caramel coloring (barley) and maltodextrin (malt=bad) and any number of "natural flavorings" that they are not necessarily required to itemize. My fiance stays away from anything colored (whiskey, scotch, bourbon, gold tequila) or flavored (gin, flavored vodkas etc.). Stick to things that are fermented directly from gluten free foods, (i.e. sake, wine, silver tequila). Good luck!

    maltodextrin is corn

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    Rice and soy beverages because their production process may utilize barley enzymes. Bad advice from health food store employees (i.e., that spelt and/or kamut is/are safe for celiacs). Cross-contamination between food store bins selling raw flours and grains (usually via the scoops). Wheat-bread crumbs in butter, jams, toaster, counter, etc. Lotions, creams and cosmetics (primarily for those with dermatitis herpetaformis). Stamps, envelopes or other gummed labels. Toothpaste and mouthwash. Medicines: many contain gluten. Cereals: most contain malt flavoring, or some other non-gluten-free ingredient. Some brands of rice paper. Sauce mixes and sauces (soy sauce, fish sauce, catsup, mustard, mayonnaise, etc.). Ice cream. Packet & canned soups. Dried meals and gravy mixes. Laxatives. Grilled restaurant food - gluten contaminated grill. Fried restaurant foods - gluten contaminated grease. Ground spices - wheat flour is sometimes used to prevent clumping.

    Scott Adams
    Celiac.com 12/10/2000 - As reported in Ann Whelans September/October issue of Gluten-Free Living, the American Dietetic Association (ADA) has released the 6th edition of its Manual of Clinical Dietetics, which offers revised guidelines for the treatment of celiac disease. This manual is currently used by hospitals and doctors all over North America, and represents the most up-to-date source of information with regard to the dietary treatment of various illnesses. The new standards set in this publication conform more closely with current international standards. Included on their safe list are items that have been on Celiac.coms safe list for over five years, including: amaranth, buckwheat, distilled vinegar (no matter what its source), distilled alcoholic beverages (including rum, gin, whiskey and vodka), millet, quinoa and teff.
    A team of American and Canadian dietitians wrote the new gluten-free guidelines, including: Shelley Case, RD, Mavis Molloy, RD, Marion Zarkadas, M.Sc.RD (all from Canada and all members of the Professional Advisory Board of the Canadian Celiac Association), and Cynthia Kupper, CRD, CDE (Executive Director of the Gluten Intolerance Group and celiac). Additional findings of this team regarding buckwheat and quinoa contradict what has been accepted as common knowledge for years by some US support groups, mainly that these two grains are more likely to be contaminated by wheat than other grains. In fact, according to the team, buckwheat and quinoa are far less likely to be contaminated than most other grains.
    At the most basic level the new guidelines mean that celiacs do not need to avoid foods containing unidentified vinegar or distilled alcohol, this alone will allow much more freedom when shopping or eating out. Further, celiacs who drink alcohol will have much more freedom and a far greater choice when they want to have a drink. Additionally, celiacs will be able to more easily maintain a well-rounded and nutritious diet because they will have access to a far greater number of highly nutritious and safe grains.
    The ADAs 6th edition of the Manual of Clinical Dietetics represents the first time that Canadian and United States dietary guidelines have come together to create a united North American gluten-free standard, and will hopefully lead to the adoption of a single standard by all US support groups so that hundreds of thousands of celiacs will not have to unnecessarily exclude more foods than necessary. These new guidelines go a long way towards an international standard, which should be the ultimate goal for all celiacs and celiac organizations in the world.

  • Recent Articles

    Jefferson Adams
    Celiac.com 06/18/2018 - Celiac disease has been mainly associated with Caucasian populations in Northern Europe, and their descendants in other countries, but new scientific evidence is beginning to challenge that view. Still, the exact global prevalence of celiac disease remains unknown.  To get better data on that issue, a team of researchers recently conducted a comprehensive review and meta-analysis to get a reasonably accurate estimate the global prevalence of celiac disease. 
    The research team included P Singh, A Arora, TA Strand, DA Leffler, C Catassi, PH Green, CP Kelly, V Ahuja, and GK Makharia. They are variously affiliated with the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts; Lady Hardinge Medical College, New Delhi, India; Innlandet Hospital Trust, Lillehammer, Norway; Centre for International Health, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway; Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts; Gastroenterology Research and Development, Takeda Pharmaceuticals Inc, Cambridge, MA; Department of Pediatrics, Università Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Italy; Department of Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York; USA Celiac Disease Center, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York; and the Department of Gastroenterology and Human Nutrition, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India.
    For their review, the team searched Medline, PubMed, and EMBASE for the keywords ‘celiac disease,’ ‘celiac,’ ‘tissue transglutaminase antibody,’ ‘anti-endomysium antibody,’ ‘endomysial antibody,’ and ‘prevalence’ for studies published from January 1991 through March 2016. 
    The team cross-referenced each article with the words ‘Asia,’ ‘Europe,’ ‘Africa,’ ‘South America,’ ‘North America,’ and ‘Australia.’ They defined celiac diagnosis based on European Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition guidelines. The team used 96 articles of 3,843 articles in their final analysis.
    Overall global prevalence of celiac disease was 1.4% in 275,818 individuals, based on positive blood tests for anti-tissue transglutaminase and/or anti-endomysial antibodies. The pooled global prevalence of biopsy-confirmed celiac disease was 0.7% in 138,792 individuals. That means that numerous people with celiac disease potentially remain undiagnosed.
    Rates of celiac disease were 0.4% in South America, 0.5% in Africa and North America, 0.6% in Asia, and 0.8% in Europe and Oceania; the prevalence was 0.6% in female vs 0.4% males. Celiac disease was significantly more common in children than adults.
    This systematic review and meta-analysis showed celiac disease to be reported worldwide. Blood test data shows celiac disease rate of 1.4%, while biopsy data shows 0.7%. The prevalence of celiac disease varies with sex, age, and location. 
    This review demonstrates a need for more comprehensive population-based studies of celiac disease in numerous countries.  The 1.4% rate indicates that there are 91.2 million people worldwide with celiac disease, and 3.9 million are in the U.S.A.
    Source:
    Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2018 Jun;16(6):823-836.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2017.06.037.

    Jefferson Adams
    Celiac.com 06/16/2018 - Summer is the time for chips and salsa. This fresh salsa recipe relies on cabbage, yes, cabbage, as a secret ingredient. The cabbage brings a delicious flavor and helps the salsa hold together nicely for scooping with your favorite chips. The result is a fresh, tasty salsa that goes great with guacamole.
    Ingredients:
    3 cups ripe fresh tomatoes, diced 1 cup shredded green cabbage ½ cup diced yellow onion ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro 1 jalapeno, seeded 1 Serrano pepper, seeded 2 tablespoons lemon juice 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 2 garlic cloves, minced salt to taste black pepper, to taste Directions:
    Purée all ingredients together in a blender.
    Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. 
    Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, as desired. 
    Serve is a bowl with tortilla chips and guacamole.

    Dr. Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.
    Celiac.com 06/15/2018 - There seems to be widespread agreement in the published medical research reports that stuttering is driven by abnormalities in the brain. Sometimes these are the result of brain injuries resulting from a stroke. Other types of brain injuries can also result in stuttering. Patients with Parkinson’s disease who were treated with stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus, an area of the brain that regulates some motor functions, experienced a return or worsening of stuttering that improved when the stimulation was turned off (1). Similarly, stroke has also been reported in association with acquired stuttering (2). While there are some reports of psychological mechanisms underlying stuttering, a majority of reports seem to favor altered brain morphology and/or function as the root of stuttering (3). Reports of structural differences between the brain hemispheres that are absent in those who do not stutter are also common (4). About 5% of children stutter, beginning sometime around age 3, during the phase of speech acquisition. However, about 75% of these cases resolve without intervention, before reaching their teens (5). Some cases of aphasia, a loss of speech production or understanding, have been reported in association with damage or changes to one or more of the language centers of the brain (6). Stuttering may sometimes arise from changes or damage to these same language centers (7). Thus, many stutterers have abnormalities in the same regions of the brain similar to those seen in aphasia.
    So how, you may ask, is all this related to gluten? As a starting point, one report from the medical literature identifies a patient who developed aphasia after admission for severe diarrhea. By the time celiac disease was diagnosed, he had completely lost his faculty of speech. However, his speech and normal bowel function gradually returned after beginning a gluten free diet (8). This finding was so controversial at the time of publication (1988) that the authors chose to remain anonymous. Nonetheless, it is a valuable clue that suggests gluten as a factor in compromised speech production. At about the same time (late 1980’s) reports of connections between untreated celiac disease and seizures/epilepsy were emerging in the medical literature (9).
    With the advent of the Internet a whole new field of anecdotal information was emerging, connecting a variety of neurological symptoms to celiac disease. While many medical practitioners and researchers were casting aspersions on these assertions, a select few chose to explore such claims using scientific research designs and methods. While connections between stuttering and gluten consumption seem to have been overlooked by the medical research community, there is a rich literature on the Internet that cries out for more structured investigation of this connection. Conversely, perhaps a publication bias of the peer review process excludes work that explores this connection.
    Whatever the reason that stuttering has not been reported in the medical literature in association with gluten ingestion, a number of personal disclosures and comments suggesting a connection between gluten and stuttering can be found on the Internet. Abid Hussain, in an article about food allergy and stuttering said: “The most common food allergy prevalent in stutterers is that of gluten which has been found to aggravate the stutter” (10). Similarly, Craig Forsythe posted an article that includes five cases of self-reporting individuals who believe that their stuttering is or was connected to gluten, one of whom also experiences stuttering from foods containing yeast (11). The same site contains one report of a stutterer who has had no relief despite following a gluten free diet for 20 years (11). Another stutterer, Jay88, reports the complete disappearance of her/his stammer on a gluten free diet (12). Doubtless there are many more such anecdotes to be found on the Internet* but we have to question them, exercising more skepticism than we might when reading similar claims in a peer reviewed scientific or medical journal.
    There are many reports in such journals connecting brain and neurological ailments with gluten, so it is not much of a stretch, on that basis alone, to suspect that stuttering may be a symptom of the gluten syndrome. Rodney Ford has even characterized celiac disease as an ailment that may begin through gluten-induced neurological damage (13) and Marios Hadjivassiliou and his group of neurologists and neurological investigators have devoted considerable time and effort to research that reveals gluten as an important factor in a majority of neurological diseases of unknown origin (14) which, as I have pointed out previously, includes most neurological ailments.
    My own experience with stuttering is limited. I stuttered as a child when I became nervous, upset, or self-conscious. Although I have been gluten free for many years, I haven’t noticed any impact on my inclination to stutter when upset. I don’t know if they are related, but I have also had challenges with speaking when distressed and I have noticed a substantial improvement in this area since removing gluten from my diet. Nonetheless, I have long wondered if there is a connection between gluten consumption and stuttering. Having done the research for this article, I would now encourage stutterers to try a gluten free diet for six months to see if it will reduce or eliminate their stutter. Meanwhile, I hope that some investigator out there will research this matter, publish her findings, and start the ball rolling toward getting some definitive answers to this question.
    Sources:
    1. Toft M, Dietrichs E. Aggravated stuttering following subthalamic deep brain stimulation in Parkinson’s disease--two cases. BMC Neurol. 2011 Apr 8;11:44.
    2. Tani T, Sakai Y. Stuttering after right cerebellar infarction: a case study. J Fluency Disord. 2010 Jun;35(2):141-5. Epub 2010 Mar 15.
    3. Lundgren K, Helm-Estabrooks N, Klein R. Stuttering Following Acquired Brain Damage: A Review of the Literature. J Neurolinguistics. 2010 Sep 1;23(5):447-454.
    4. Jäncke L, Hänggi J, Steinmetz H. Morphological brain differences between adult stutterers and non-stutterers. BMC Neurol. 2004 Dec 10;4(1):23.
    5. Kell CA, Neumann K, von Kriegstein K, Posenenske C, von Gudenberg AW, Euler H, Giraud AL. How the brain repairs stuttering. Brain. 2009 Oct;132(Pt 10):2747-60. Epub 2009 Aug 26.
    6. Galantucci S, Tartaglia MC, Wilson SM, Henry ML, Filippi M, Agosta F, Dronkers NF, Henry RG, Ogar JM, Miller BL, Gorno-Tempini ML. White matter damage in primary progressive aphasias: a diffusion tensor tractography study. Brain. 2011 Jun 11.
    7. Lundgren K, Helm-Estabrooks N, Klein R. Stuttering Following Acquired Brain Damage: A Review of the Literature. J Neurolinguistics. 2010 Sep 1;23(5):447-454.
    8. [No authors listed] Case records of the Massachusetts General Hospital. Weekly clinicopathological exercises. Case 43-1988. A 52-year-old man with persistent watery diarrhea and aphasia. N Engl J Med. 1988 Oct 27;319(17):1139-48
    9. Molteni N, Bardella MT, Baldassarri AR, Bianchi PA. Celiac disease associated with epilepsy and intracranial calcifications: report of two patients. Am J Gastroenterol. 1988 Sep;83(9):992-4.
    10. http://ezinearticles.com/?Food-Allergy-and-Stuttering-Link&id=1235725 
    11. http://www.craig.copperleife.com/health/stuttering_allergies.htm 
    12. https://www.celiac.com/forums/topic/73362-any-help-is-appreciated/
    13. Ford RP. The gluten syndrome: a neurological disease. Med Hypotheses. 2009 Sep;73(3):438-40. Epub 2009 Apr 29.
    14. Hadjivassiliou M, Gibson A, Davies-Jones GA, Lobo AJ, Stephenson TJ, Milford-Ward A. Does cryptic gluten sensitivity play a part in neurological illness? Lancet. 1996 Feb 10;347(8998):369-71.

    Jefferson Adams
    Celiac.com 06/14/2018 - Refractory celiac disease type II (RCDII) is a rare complication of celiac disease that has high death rates. To diagnose RCDII, doctors identify a clonal population of phenotypically aberrant intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs). 
    However, researchers really don’t have much data regarding the frequency and significance of clonal T cell receptor (TCR) gene rearrangements (TCR-GRs) in small bowel (SB) biopsies of patients without RCDII. Such data could provide useful comparison information for patients with RCDII, among other things.
    To that end, a research team recently set out to try to get some information about the frequency and importance of clonal T cell receptor (TCR) gene rearrangements (TCR-GRs) in small bowel (SB) biopsies of patients without RCDII. The research team included Shafinaz Hussein, Tatyana Gindin, Stephen M Lagana, Carolina Arguelles-Grande, Suneeta Krishnareddy, Bachir Alobeid, Suzanne K Lewis, Mahesh M Mansukhani, Peter H R Green, and Govind Bhagat.
    They are variously affiliated with the Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, and the Department of Medicine at the Celiac Disease Center, New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, New York, USA. Their team analyzed results of TCR-GR analyses performed on SB biopsies at our institution over a 3-year period, which were obtained from eight active celiac disease, 172 celiac disease on gluten-free diet, 33 RCDI, and three RCDII patients and 14 patients without celiac disease. 
    Clonal TCR-GRs are not infrequent in cases lacking features of RCDII, while PCPs are frequent in all disease phases. TCR-GR results should be assessed in conjunction with immunophenotypic, histological and clinical findings for appropriate diagnosis and classification of RCD.
    The team divided the TCR-GR patterns into clonal, polyclonal and prominent clonal peaks (PCPs), and correlated these patterns with clinical and pathological features. In all, they detected clonal TCR-GR products in biopsies from 67% of patients with RCDII, 17% of patients with RCDI and 6% of patients with gluten-free diet. They found PCPs in all disease phases, but saw no significant difference in the TCR-GR patterns between the non-RCDII disease categories (p=0.39). 
    They also noted a higher frequency of surface CD3(−) IELs in cases with clonal TCR-GR, but the PCP pattern showed no associations with any clinical or pathological feature. 
    Repeat biopsy showed that the clonal or PCP pattern persisted for up to 2 years with no evidence of RCDII. The study indicates that better understanding of clonal T cell receptor gene rearrangements may help researchers improve refractory celiac diagnosis. 
    Source:
    Journal of Clinical Pathologyhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jclinpath-2018-205023

    Jefferson Adams
    Celiac.com 06/13/2018 - There have been numerous reports that olmesartan, aka Benicar, seems to trigger sprue‐like enteropathy in many patients, but so far, studies have produced mixed results, and there really hasn’t been a rigorous study of the issue. A team of researchers recently set out to assess whether olmesartan is associated with a higher rate of enteropathy compared with other angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs).
    The research team included Y.‐H. Dong; Y. Jin; TN Tsacogianis; M He; PH Hsieh; and JJ Gagne. They are variously affiliated with the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA, USA; the Faculty of Pharmacy, School of Pharmaceutical Science at National Yang‐Ming University in Taipei, Taiwan; and the Department of Hepato‐Gastroenterology, Chi Mei Medical Center in Tainan, Taiwan.
    To get solid data on the issue, the team conducted a cohort study among ARB initiators in 5 US claims databases covering numerous health insurers. They used Cox regression models to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for enteropathy‐related outcomes, including celiac disease, malabsorption, concomitant diagnoses of diarrhea and weight loss, and non‐infectious enteropathy. In all, they found nearly two million eligible patients. 
    They then assessed those patients and compared the results for olmesartan initiators to initiators of other ARBs after propensity score (PS) matching. They found unadjusted incidence rates of 0.82, 1.41, 1.66 and 29.20 per 1,000 person‐years for celiac disease, malabsorption, concomitant diagnoses of diarrhea and weight loss, and non‐infectious enteropathy respectively. 
    After PS matching comparing olmesartan to other ARBs, hazard ratios were 1.21 (95% CI, 1.05‐1.40), 1.00 (95% CI, 0.88‐1.13), 1.22 (95% CI, 1.10‐1.36) and 1.04 (95% CI, 1.01‐1.07) for each outcome. Patients aged 65 years and older showed greater hazard ratios for celiac disease, as did patients receiving treatment for more than 1 year, and patients receiving higher cumulative olmesartan doses.
    This is the first comprehensive multi‐database study to document a higher rate of enteropathy in olmesartan initiators as compared to initiators of other ARBs, though absolute rates were low for both groups.
    Source:
    Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics