Alcohol options for common food sensitivities

food sensitivities Oct 01, 2017

One of the frequently asked questions I get from food sensitivity clients after they’re starting to feel much better after working together is “When can I drink alcohol?”

It was especially popular during summer events and boating season. And it’s a great question. Like everything, there’s a methodology to reintroduction.

Let’s get one thing straight though: Alcohol does promote intestinal permeability and bacterial imbalance. READ: All sorts of hairy issues. I know, annoying. But we already knew that it wasn’t necessarily a superfood. 😉

“Alcohol-induced increases in intestinal bacterial growth and intestinal permeability to endotoxin is expected to result in elevated plasma endotoxin levels.”¹

"The results of this study indicate that alcohol abuse impairs the function of the intestinal barrier.”²

Ideally, I suggest avoiding alcohol for 4-6 weeks (while working on sensitivities) so the immune system has had a chance to calm down and symptoms are resolving/clients can tell when they eat something that isn’t working for them yet.

We test for hops on our sensitivity test, but with different grains used in fermentation of beer, it’s always the last thing we test.

Celiac or wheat sensitive clients are already on the lookout for gluten free beers, like Redbridge, but I prefer to get some healing done before we open up that can of worms.

Wine: If no sulfite issues (I’m looking at you, migraines!!!) present or genetic inefficiencies (which can be hacked—talk to me about this), this is the second thing I would experiment with.

Wine can take trial and error; people can do better with certain grapes from certain regions with fewer natural sulfites. Some with very specific issues with sulfite and wheat find that wine from stainless steel barrels works. Often I recommend starting with an organic European wine as sulfites are lower.

So definitely an experiment with wine and lots of pieces to consider if tolerance is poor. We can individually discuss your situation and make recommendations as needed.

Now, distilled liquor. That’s where we start.

Vodka, more specifically, is my recommendation.

Distillation of liquor should remove particulates from the grain or starch with which it’s made. However, there’s no certainty, so I always recommend people use this list as a GUIDE (because it’s NOT validated in any way) to find an alcohol made from a non-reactive grain. Check tolerance and move on from that point.

Some people very specifically handle a potato or corn derived vodka over others, so I think the safest bet is to stick to your safe grains.

Once you find a brand that is made from a “safe-for-you” grain, you can try it with an “approved” juice. (Remember cranberry juice isn’t just cranberry juice). Once you pass the 4 week mark of our work together, there is more flexibility.

Some people, if extra sensitive, may want to contact the liquor manufacturer to establish the liquor derivative.

Here’s a list to get you started that our fabulous intern pulled together from the magic of the internet:

(As always, if you are interested in knowing more about your sensitivities, checkout or contact [email protected] if you would like a nutrigenomics assessment (to talk wine headache hacks and other things!)


Ale - fermented from malt with hops
Beer - brewed and fermented from malted cereal grain (as barley), flavored with hops
A gluten-free (GF) beer uses grains that naturally are free of gluten (for example, sorghum or brown rice) in the fermentation process. So, the beer does not have any gluten in it from start to finish.
A gluten-removed (GR) beer uses wheat, barley, or rye to ferment and make the beer, which then undergoes a process to remove the gluten. This involves using enzymes to break down gluten into smaller fragments which, theoretically, would not induce an immune response in the person who drinks it.

Bourbon - whiskey distilled from a mash of not less than 51 percent corn and aged in new charred oak barrels for a minimum of two years

Brandy - distilled from wine or fermented fruit juice

Cognac - a brandy distilled from white wine from a specific region of France

Gin - distilled or re-distilled neutral grain spirits from a variety of sources, flavored with juniper berries and other aromatics

Rum - distilled from a sugarcane product such as molasses or sugarcane juice

Sake - produced by a brewing process using rice

Tequila - a Mexican liquor distilled from blue agave.
Tequila is made only from a specific cultivar of Agave tequilana called Weber Azul.

Vodka - distilled from a mash as of potatoes, rye or wheat
SKYY: Grain
Tito's: Corn
Zodiac: Potato
Pinnacle: Wheat
Three Olives: Grain
Smirnoff: Grain
Absolute: Wheat
Grey Goose: Wheat
Finlandia: Barley
Chopin: Potato

Whiskey - distilled from mash of grain such as rye, corn, or barley

Rye Whiskey

Scotch - whiskey distilled in Scotland typically from malted barley

Wine - fermented juice of fresh grapes and/or other fruit (e.g., blackberry wine)