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Beer can cause allergies in people sensitive to grains


Beer is the third most consumed beverage in the world after water and tea. It began to be cooked as early as the 5th millennium BC. in Iran, and later in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Today, no one in the world can do without it.

Beer contains a lot of B vitamins. At the same time, dark beer is considered more useful. It has more vitamins B3, B6 and B9 (folic acid).

These vitamins are essential for cell repair, they act as antioxidants, help with digestion, keep the skin and nervous system healthy, and in women, relieve symptoms of PMS.

In addition, this drink has a calming and antibacterial effect, helps fight colds, has a rejuvenating effect on blood vessels, has a positive effect on bone density, promotes joint elasticity, strengthens bones, increases “good” cholesterol, and even helps fight some heart diseases. Beer is also good for the eyes. It is believed that its use in moderation is the prevention of glaucoma and cataracts.

However, for some, drinking even a small amount of beer instead of benefit can only bring a number of problems. Causes should be sought in conditions such as food allergies and intolerances. At the same time, often these conditions manifest themselves so similarly that without the help of a specialist it will be difficult to find out the cause of the reaction to beer.


Food intolerance to certain beer constituents is considered more common.

For example, it is believed that about 1% of people are sensitive to sulfites – substances that are formed in alcohol naturally or added to it artificially to better preserve the drink. Back in the 1980s, it became clear that the use of sulfites can be deadly for patients with asthma (it is estimated that 5% of all asthmatics have sulfite sensitivity).

As a result, all beer and wine producers are now required to label their products accordingly if their sulfite content exceeds a threshold that is dangerous for people with asthma.

Beer intolerance reactions, especially severe headaches, can also be triggered by histamine and tannins. While they are considered a common side effect of drinking red wine, they are also present in beer. Especially the dark ones.

Tannins, also present in beer, increase the amount of the chemical serotonin. It can also cause headaches.

And people who react to histamine in alcohol may also have low levels of an intestinal enzyme called diamine oxidase . It usually breaks down histamine.

But up to 40% of people of Asian origin cannot tolerate beer, as they are unable to digest alcohol. These people are unable to metabolize it due to a mutation in the ALDH2 gene, which codes for the dehydrogenase enzyme. It is responsible for the breakdown of alcohol.

As for allergies, the presence of barley, wheat, sorghum, yeast, hops, as well as various preservatives, dyes and flavors in beer often leads to its development.

Sorghum sensitivity is the most common cause of beer allergy among the Chinese. And nearly 1.2% of Americans are allergic to wheat. At the same time, some of them also react to barley. Although reactions are possible separately for wheat, and separately for barley. And they are also found in Ukraine.

In general, many sources explain the allergy to beer precisely by sensitivity to barley extracts, as one of the most common types of beer raw materials. In particular, the reactions in this case can be caused by three proteins. One of them is lipid transfer protein-1 (LTP1). Proteins of this group are known for their allergenicity. And the one found in barley can also lead to cross-reactions with peach, carrot and apple.

Allergic reactions, theoretically, can also occur to substances that are used to purify beer. For example, egg white, casein, isinglas (a substance made from sturgeon swim bladders, also used as a cleaning agent) and fish ingredients (for example, parvalbumin , the main allergen found in fish with scales). However, manufacturers claim that in fact the residues of such substances after cleaning are so small that they cannot cause a reaction.


If the negative manifestations that are the result of drinking beer are absent after drinking wine or other alcoholic beverages, most likely it is a food allergy to beer or a certain ingredient in it.

The main symptoms of beer allergy are:

– runny nose,

– urticaria,

– itchy nose, sneezing,

– hoarseness of voice

– problems with the digestive system,

– bloating and pain in the abdomen,

– feeling of tension in the chest.

An allergic reaction usually occurs within 15 minutes to two hours.

In severe cases, a life-threatening condition, anaphylaxis, can develop.

Its symptoms are expressed as:

– urticaria,

– edema,

– breathing problems

– chest pain, fainting,

– a sharp decrease in blood pressure.

If you develop these symptoms, you should immediately call an ambulance or use an adrenaline dispenser yourself if you have one.

Sometimes anaphylaxis does not occur immediately after drinking beer, but under certain conditions – for example, after drinking this drink, which was followed by physical activity. This type of reaction is called exercise-related anaphylaxis. In particular, a case of such a condition is described, which was provoked by the use of wheat beer.


An allergist can determine which component of beer causes an allergy after skin testing or a molecular blood test.

Therefore, if you are allergic to grains, which are part of the drink, the way out of the situation may be to drink beer that does not contain these allergens and is made from alternative raw materials.

For those who suffer from gluten intolerance, there are gluten-free beers available. Instead of barley and wheat, it is brewed from rice, millet, buckwheat, corn or sorghum.

For lovers of spices, there is ginger beer , which includes ginger, lemon, sugar and yeast.

And then there is the root beer , made from the raw materials of trees or vines.

It may be more difficult for people with yeast allergies. They are always included in beer. However, cases of yeast sensitivity are thought to be extremely rare.


If the reaction to the beer is mild and the allergy test is negative, the symptoms may be due to alcohol intolerance.

As in the case of allergies, such a reaction also develops quite quickly and may include the following symptoms:

– nasal congestion and runny nose

– urticaria

– diarrhea

– nausea

– vomit

– pressure reduction

– asthma attack.

Other common symptoms include:

– swelling of the face,

– redness on other parts of the body,

– cardiopalmus,

– headache,

– breathing problems,

– fainting.

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