Happy sort-of-Springtime! In honor of St. Paddy’s day, let’s chat about gluten-free beers.
There have been gluten-free beers on the market for quite a few years, and they’re made from non-gluten containing grains like sorghum or rice. But there was a huge fuss and a lot of excitement when manufacturers announced that they had figured out how to make a beer with barley, and then go through a special process to remove the gluten fragments in order to make it safe for people with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. They even tested these special “gluten-removed” beers with state-of-the art testing equipment, and they came up clean.
Sounds spiffy, but here’s where it gets fuzzy, even if you haven’t had a few. The normal tests for gluten are generally not designed for fermented foods like beer. During fermentation, some of the strands of protein are broken down into their parts, also known as amino acids. The ultimate goal here is to figure out if the amino acid sequences that are toxic to people with Celiac are still present in the beer. The essence of the debate is not if the tests give the answer of zero, but whether the tests are actually looking at something meaningful, and can accurately assess the presence of these harmful fragments.
A new small 2017 study done by the Gluten Intolerance Group showed that 1/3 of the blood samples of people with Celiac disease may still bind inappropriately to the protein fragments to the barley fragments.
The powers that be in the U.S. and Canada still have doubts on the safety of these gluten-removed beers. The U.S. head honchos in charge of booze, also known as the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, have required disclaimers such as: “Product fermented from grains containing gluten and [processed or treated or crafted] to remove gluten. The gluten content of this product cannot be verified, and this product may contain gluten;” or “This product was distilled from grains containing gluten, which removed some or all of the gluten. The gluten content of this product cannot be verified, and this product may contain gluten.” They released a statement in that specifically states the beers can’t currently be labeled gluten-free without the disclaimers, because it’s confusing and misleading to consumers.
So … I know many people see these beers and assume they’re safe. Until or unless we find out otherwise, I do encourage my gluten-free clients to steer clear of the “gluten-removed” beers, and instead choose other alcohol or beer from non-gluten containing grains. There are a bunch of truly, 100 percent gluten-free beers on the market, including Redbridge, Bard, New Grist, Green’s, New Planet and more. Locally, Total Wine seems to be the best spot to get a good selection.
And stay tuned! Studies are ongoing.
Mindful eating class:
Want to see how eating mindfully can help your health? Join me March 25th @11am for an hour-long workshop in Fairfax, an learn some simple strategies to get started. Register here.
Calling all nutrition pros: I’m teaching on Food Allergies & the new 2017 guidelines for food introduction on March 14th from 3:30-5pm. More info here, and to sign up see Dietitian Central.
Are you on a low FODMAP diet? As some of you know entirely too well, FODMAPs may cause digestive upset in people with IBS and IBD. Good news! FODY foods just launched a line at some DMV Wegman’s stores. This is garlic and onion-free salsas, BBQ sauces, bars, and more. However, my store list includes Alexandria, Woodbridge, Leesburg, and others in MD, PA and NY, but no Fairfax.
Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Wellcoach in Fairfax & Alexandria, VA. She helps people with a range of dietary issues, including Celiac Disease, GI issues, food allergies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, vegetarian and vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals and feeling great! Email or call 571-271-8742.