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Some 'Gluten-Free' Beers Really Aren't: Study

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Regular beer and even some brands of beer labeled "low-gluten" contain high levels of gluten and could cause problems for people with celiac disease, a new study says.

Beer is made using barely, which contains a form of gluten called hordein. However, some beer companies contend that the brewing process eliminates gluten or reduces it to very low levels, according to a release from the Journal of Proteome Research, where the new study appears.

Because existing tests for detecting gluten in malted products are not very accurate, the research team developed a new test that's highly accurate for hordein.

They used this test to analyze 60 commercial beers and found that many of the regular brands contained significant levels of hordein.

Eight brands labeled "gluten-free" did not contain hordein. However, the researchers were surprised to discover that two of the brands labeled "gluten-free" actually had about as much hordein as regular beer.

People with celiac disease need to avoid gluten, a protein that triggers a reaction that damages the small intestine. Diarrhea, constipation, fatigue and abdominal pain are among the symptoms experienced by people with celiac disease when they consume foods and beverages with gluten.

The only treatment for people with celiac disease is to remain on a lifelong gluten-free diet.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about celiac disease.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Journal of Proteome Research, news release, Dec. 21, 2011

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