Monday, August 11, 2008

More Distilled Wisdom

In my previous post I touched on distilled vinegar and its lack of gluten, the point being that, contrary to myth, distilled vinegar is appropriate on a gluten-free diet, and that any problems one might have with the vast majority of vinegars would not be due to gluten. Rather than assume that a vinegar has gluten in it, it is reasonable to assume that there's a good chance that any vinegar that is not a malt vinegar is free of gluten, and it would not be a hopeless gesture to check ingredients and contact food producers to clear up any lingering doubts you might have about any vinegar you'd like to try.

Anyway, today I figured that I might as well go ahead and say the same thing about distilled alcohol—spirits such as plain gin, vodka, and whiskey. The distillation would eliminate any gluten that might be in the ingredients of those hard liquors.

Gluten-Free Living states, "Distilled alcoholic beverages are gluten free because distillation effectively removes gluten from wheat. They are not gluten free if gluten-containing ingredients are added after distillation, but this rarely, if ever, happens."

And Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic states, "The distilling process eliminates the gliadin fragment from spirits made from wheat, rye, and barley (e.g. bourbon, vodka, scotch). If spirits contain flavoring that is added in after the alcohol is distilled, it is not necessarily safe." (Gliadin is a fraction of gluten that is toxic for people with celiac disease.)

So, if such spirits make you sick, it's extraordinarily unlikely that the problem would be due to gluten or the smaller gliadin in the booze. Many people with celiac disease do drink hard liquor safely (and, of course, always in moderation). Perhaps your intestines are insufficiently healed from eating gluten elsewhere. Or perhaps there is a co-existing condition. Both scenarios are far more likely.

For instance, consider this, from the National Institute of Health: "There are no known foods that cause Crohn’s disease. However, when people are suffering a flare in disease, foods such as bulky grains, hot spices, alcohol, and milk products may increase diarrhea and cramping." Some people do have Crohn's disease as well as celiac disease.

And also remember that hard liquor, like vinegar, is a "strong" substance. Many people do react poorly to it—especially in large quantities. I don't use the stuff to clear drains, but just look at this list and this list of uses for vodka! Some of them have to be for real, right?

Source (00:28)


Jeannie said...

Awesome post! Thanks for the info! You bring up some very good points.

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