Question: I have had celiac disease(CD) since 1996 and didn’t drink beer for years. I started calling companies to complain and this is a direct quote from Budweiser:
“Our beer is gluten free. Its primary ingredient is rice and the barley that is used in brewing is turned into amino acids during the brewing process and our scientists have been unable to detect any gluten. We suggest you contact your doctor or the CSA (Celiac Sprue Association).” My doctor doesn’t see a problem but the CSA says all beer has gluten in it.
I drink Bud Light with no problems. The gluten-free brewing companies have a good story they publish every time I mention it on the celiac network saying: “Budweiser does not pass the E1a test for gluten or they add barley to it.” They have almost everyone brainwashed because it is a good business to sell beer for $43.00 a case.
What I am looking for is the honest, unbiased facts. Can you help?
Charlie in Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Beer Fox Answer: Celiac Disease was once thought to be a rare disease. Recently, more sophisticated tests and superior research indicate that it is, in fact, more widespread than it was thought to be. Estimates indicate that, in the United States, 1 in 133 have Celiac Disease, also known as Gluten Intolerance, Celiac Sprue, Nontropical Sprue, or Gluten-sensitive Enteropathy.
At present, the reasons why some people contract Celiac Disease are not clearly understood. Researchers are doggedly searching for significant discoveries concerning this condition, and information is being disseminated to doctors and pathologists on an ongoing basis. There is a strong link that indicates that CD may be genetic.
Clearly, the person diagnosed with Celiac Disease is faced with the lifelong challenge of being aware of everything he or she ingests, while avoiding foods that are known to contain gluten, a protein found in barley, wheat, rye, spelt, oats, kamut and triticale.
Although brewers are chemists, they are not pathologists. While Budweiser and the makers of distilled liquors are willing to make the statement that their products are “rendered gluten-free through processing” because “the barley that is used in brewing is turned into amino acids during the brewing process,” these scientists cannot make the statement that their products are acceptable for the diet of those diagnosed with Celiac Disease.
Research indicates that “the E1A proteins are proline rich, acidic, and localized in the nucleus…The extreme heat stability of bacterially produced E1A protein, which retains significant transcriptional activation activity even after boiling for five minutes, suggests that either E1A can readily refold to an active conformation, or that E1A can function as a random coil…”
“In human cells, E1A stimulates the degradation of both cellular and viral DNA in the infected cell and results in enhanced cytopathic effect resembling programmed cell death or apoptosis. Apoptosis is an active process by which the cell directs its own destruction…”
In other words, there is no proof that the conversion of grain proteins into amino acids during the brewing process renders them harmless to the Celiac. The proteins that affect the Celiac may retain the code that instructs the body to destroy or atrophy the villi of the small intestines.
Many patients want to rationalize that they can continue to be exposed to “normal beverages” when they receive statements (such as you have) from the manufacturers of these products. The problem is that, while the statement might be technically true, it does not address the underlying connection between grain products and Celiac Disease.
One additional note: Grains generate a high level of airborne dust. The barley that is introduced into Budweiser may generate airborne cells that can settle back into the processed beer.
To assure the most effective treatment of Celiac disease, the CSA recommends zero tolerance. Although 100% gluten-free craft beer may be higher priced than Budweiser, the long-term results will be well worth the price.
For books on the Gluten Free lifestyle, view: Gluten Free Book List
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