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Sudden lack of alcohol tolerance?
British tea
teacupdiaries wrote in celiac
I realise this is a strange question and possibly not related to coeliac disease at all, but I was curious if anyone has noticed similar.

I used to be a moderate drinker with a high tolerance. I didn't drink often but, when I did, I could polish off a big bottle of wine and still feel okay. I definitely 'held my own' with my friends who were more regular drinkers.

When I became symptomatic with coeliac disease at age 18, I noticed a lack of tolerance for alcohol. At the time, I didn't know all my issues were down to coeliac but I did cut back on drinking in order to feel better. After my diagnosis and subsequent gluten free diet, one of the first things I noticed was how little I could drink before getting very, very drunk.

In the past year, I have been so very careful with my diet. I once heard someone say that for the first year or so of going GF, you're not, because you're still learning, taking risks, and making mistakes. For me, that's very true. Now, though, I don't take risks, eat out, or in any way put myself in the chance of ingesting gluten. I've noticed that if I drink more than half a glass of wine, or a small rum and coke, I will get very nauseous, headache-y, and generally miserable. The first few mouthfuls go straight to my head, and I can get quite dizzy very quickly. This is true of all (safe) alcohols I've tried since going 100% GF.

I love wine. I love the occasional drink, so I'm sad that I can no longer seem to tolerate alcohol.

Is anyone else in the same boat?

ETA: Looks like this is relatively common, which begs the question of just what exactly is causing this in GF folks.

You've got to be careful with wine and their sulphates - sometimes those can be harmful for us celiacs.

Also, coloured or dark rum may have caramel colouring - which may have gluten. Try to stick to clear hard liquors like vodka etc.

Danger everywhere!

I can't even touch vodka any more. xD Drunk me in 10 seconds flat! Then I'm just nauseous and regret ever touching the stuff.

I didn't realise about the sulphates issue in wine. Do you have any more information to share on that? All my coeliac books list wine as safe, though they do recommend always checking the label and the company FAQs before consuming, which I do.

Mostly, I just don't drink any more since it's not worth the ickiness. >_>

(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
Same here. I can only seem to tolerate rum and red wine, and then only a drink, maybe two at the max. I've also started sweating a LOT when I drink wine. That never happened before. I dunno.......

That is interesting! I wonder what it is that causes the sudden decrease in tolerance?

I can't drink more than half a GF beer or a glass of wine without feeling "off"

Eeenteresting. . . Looks like this might be more common than I thought.

off... (Anonymous) Expand
Re: off... (Anonymous) Expand
Im not celiac but I am gluten intolerant. And yes, it was if, at around 19 or 20 my alcohol tolerance (which used to be scarily high) just disappeared. It was also like, I wouldnt feel myself getting gradually drunker while I drank and then suddenly I was smashed. I dont know if it was the break own of some kind of regulatory system?

This is so weird. I did suspect my lack of tolerance was coeliac related but seeing so many people having the same issue is so fascinating. I really wonder what causes it.

Suddenly Smashed (Anonymous) Expand
when i was in my late teens i got tipsy quickly but never ever had a hangover.

in my 20s i started getting sick headaches after even a little alcohol and even more sensitive to it.

since my 30s i haven't been able to drink at all unless i want to be sick for days. doesn't matter what, i've tried all kinds of "safe" things and every one does the same thing. it takes about 2 small sips before i'm tipsy, 30 minutes later i'm falling asleep, and 4 hours later i wake up sick as a dog adn stay sick for days. :/

i've only known i can't handle gluten for 2 years (and been gluten-free that long), so i don't know if it was an early sign of problems in my gut, something related to my cfs, or just a coincidence, though.

I originally suspected the lack of tolerance was due to gut damage, but now that I've noticed a correlation between how long I've been GF and a lack of tolerance that disproves my theory.

This is really interesting, though I'm sorry so many people have the same problem!

(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
I've only had a few drinks since going GF six months ago, and I didn't drink very often before that, but that's mainly due to being a boring stay-at-home-with-tea student :o) The last I can remember having were two mainly-fruit-juice cocktails though, and had quite a soporific effect on me by the time I got home not two hours later. Which is strange, because I remember being able to have several measures of fairly strong liqueurs before going past the chatty stage and starting to feel sleepy, not more than two years ago. Huh.
I wouldn't've said the effect of the cocktails was bad, though, just that the tiredness was on par with the exhaustion I get several hours after having more than two vials of blood taken. But no headache or overtly 'bad' feeling from the alcohol, which is good :o)

Oh, and I've heard stories from my brothers about my mum's hangovers in recent months :o) But I'm not sure if that's to do with the coeliac or the fact that she now goes out more with her new partner. I'd ask if she finds it different to before, but I can't remember her having more than a few glasses of wine throughout my entire childhood, so I don't know if there'd be enough of a comparison.

I'd read somewhere that inflammation from coeliac disease easily spreads to other organs (eg pancreas and diabetes) and that with alcohol intolerance it was the inflammation spreading to the liver. I can't find the article due to a hard drive failure.

I don't react as well to booze as I used to either. I can't really describe symptoms right now, as I have probably had 30 drinks in 4 years and none this year. However one drink will make me less than well for days.

Blood tests say my liver function is ok, but I doubt they are specific enough to test for this.

Yup, I have this too, onset with becoming symptomatic a couple of years ago. I figure it would stop when I'd been gluten-free for a while and I healed, but I've been religious about the diet for two years and it's just as bad. I can't have more than twoglasses of anythign and feel thoroughly drunk after one.

I wonder if this has to do with our healing? ... My line of thought is this, because of the damage our bodies had from eating gluten, we didn't produce something that let us digest alcohol, but rather, it flowed right through us (kinda like lactose intolerance, produce no lactase, the lactose goes right through us, and the bacteria in our gut cause all the problems because they get the lactose). Maybe something similar happens with alcohol? Except before healing we saw little/no effect, but maybe now we have the chemicals to process the alcohol, so now we react to it? Just a thought, haven't a single clue if it's right.

I don't think my tolerance has changed much, but I'm not sure if I'm celiac or not. I just know I feel a whole heck of a lot better when I don't eat gluten.

At first I thought it was the alcohol but then I realized it was the fructose in sweet drinks that made me headachey and sick. I stick to grapefruit & tequilas and I'm A-OK. Well, within reason. The day after my birthday last year was not pleasant. :/

Count me in. I wasn't much of a drinker before my diagnosis at age 20, and continued to have the occasional glass of wine or gin & tonic after diagnosis, but about five years ago I stopped drinking altogether because even a small glass of wine would make me feel horribly sleepy within an hour, and queasy/generally gastrically unhappy the next day. My body really doesn't handle alcohol well at all. It's not a problem for me because my husband doesn't drink at all anyway, so I don't miss it. But this is a very interesting discussion!

I wonder...Italy has one of the highest concentrations of celiacs in the world, and they drink wine like water over there. I wonder if the trend we're noticing here is similar in Italy?

italian wines have the lowest amount of sulfates then any other red wine (unless sulfate free). sulfates tend to cause some people to get red in the face, headaches stomach aches ect

I imagine the reason it happens is because it's not digesting properly.

When I am GF I can tolerate alcohol. When I've had something with gluten in it, I notice I cannot tolerate drinking.

I can't handle alcohol well either. Granted, I've never really been a drinker, but I enjoy a glass or two after dinner with friends sometimes. But a few nights ago, I literally had a few tablespoons worth of wine and was stupidly drunk in no time. Whaaaa???

I think that alcohol can be really tough on sensitive tummies and intestines. I tend to think the sensitivity of having celiac means that anything that could be rough on digestion WILL be tough on digestion. My non-celiac friends often get stomach-ill from alcohol; I think ours just comes on harder and from drinking less.

It's the sugar. Many of the things that contain gluten are broken down in your body very quickly, into sugar. Bread, pasta, pretty much everything we are not allowed to eat, lol. Because you've cut all that out, your body has less tolerance for sugar and that which is in the wine goes straight to your head. I experienced this for the first time long before I discovered my gluten problems...I found out about it the first time I had ONE GLASS of wine after going low-carb for a few weeks. I even have to be careful now when I'm drinking gf beer. The only thing I seem to tolerate about the same as always is hard liquor. But I don't drink very often so my tolerance is still way down from when it was when I was younger.

I'm still pretty new to the gluten free game having only been diagnosed about a month ago. I've been feeling heaps better since going gluten free but have definitely noticed the difference in drinking tolerance. Before going gluten free i could hold my alcohol well but now it seems as if I cant take much at all. I'd never thought about the sugar content affecting how you feel but it makes sense. I have been drinking a lot of high sugar drinks (bourbon+coke etc). Does anyone know of sugar low gf safe drinks? I suppose vodka?? I feel like I'm too young to give up drinking large amounts all together haha.

(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
I have always tolerated wine and been able to polish off a bottle when the opportunity arises. Have been gluten free for 2 years, apart from 3 months last year while waiting for my coeliacs biopsy and having to eat gluten at every meal. Not coeliac, just severly intollerant to wheat and gluten. I agree that for some reason there are just some things you can no longer put in your body, and for me it is red wine. I am gutted, but know that anything more than one glass and i spend the first 6 hours of the next day with profuse diarrhoea. Just not worth it. Ironically the first glass makes me feel sick, dizzy and generally quite trashed. I have a friend who is a wine maker in Australia and they use a wheat paste derivative on the fermenting barrels. The only thing I can tolerate now is pure %40 vodka although not in a bar with mixers from a coke gun, so maybe there is gluten in the mixer gun!!
It's a minefield to negotiate, but I am of the opinion that our digestive system is so damaged from poor diet that anything remotely glutinous causes severe problems particularly if you are strictly gluten free. My advice, find a drink you like and can tolerate, then email the manufacturer to ask for confirmation of their gluten absence. Don't read lots of articles online, as some coeliacs can tolerate some products while others cant and you can get a false impression of what is allowed for you. Hope this helps

Re: wine fiasco

This is the best advice yet. Thanks for your wisdom and candor. It seems most all Celiacs are different in what we can tolerate. Find what works for you and enjoy. CF Red Bridge beer is my standby now. However, I haven't stopped to notice the residual effects. I do know it doesn't pack an inebriation that sneaks up on me like wine. Man! Those grapes will get you into all kinds of trouble.

This makes me feel better...

I have always had a high tolerance and loved vodka. I come from a family where we have a glass of wine with dinner and drinks(1 or 2) every couple of weeks or so. Over the past year I can't drink even a glass of wine without feeling tipsy. Forget anything harder because I get terribly sick and have a hangover for days. I couldn't understand what was happening and was too embarrassed to say anything. Everyone always smiles and thinks you had to drink more than one drink.
We make our own wine at home so I guess that in moderation is safe.
Did you know there is wheat in Cadbury cream eggs as well.
I can't wait for a cure. I love trying new foods and eating long dinners out with family and friends.

alcohol and coeliacs

If my recent experience is typical, white wine id deadly. How about being drunk on three glasses and passing out. It seems like the alcohol was passing directly in to the bloodstream and by passing digestion.

Re: alcohol and coeliacs

I can relate to this one totally. Same thing happened to me. Did u remember anything at all? I didn't.

(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand

Sudden lack of alcohol tolerance?


I also noticed the same problem.
It may be coming from the fact that the lining of the intestinal track is no longer that good. So we may lack some essentials elements as molybdenum (used to create enzyme sulfite oxidase to break down sulfite)
After a week of taking molybdenum supplements, I was able to drink up to 2 glasses of wines without abnormal effects.
I noticed that the effects are the highest with cheap wines..
But yes, be careful of some wines that may contain wheat (barrels sealing).
I also don't drink anymore australian wines, which usually contain yolk and I'm pretty sensitive to yolk..

Re: Sudden lack of alcohol tolerance?

Please note that sulfites are found in ciders and in many beers (as preservatives). As a Celiac I have realised sulphites are deadly.

Is anyone aware of research on the destruction of the pancrease for Celiacs, particularily if small amounts of alcohol (i.e. GF beer) can accellorate this destruction?

While ranting, many Celics have significant vitamin B6 issues even 3 years after starting a GF diet. Anxiety and depression can often be dramatically elliminated by B6 supplements ( do not overdose ! )

Another topic: the casein in dairy , not always the lactose, is the main culprit for many GF Celiacs. Modern Holstein cows produce one of the least toleraterd forms of casein, compared with the old Guernseys and Jerseys. Goat or sheep is tolerated. Again, anxiety and depression can be symptoms of this diet issue. Also , autoimmune destruction of the thgryoid gland.

Gee its great to be a diabetic, thyroid dead celiac canary in this mine!
Actually, I am grateful for every day!

Blue-Green Canary

just started wheat free diet and lost alcohol tolerance

Glad I found your post. I, like you, didn't drink often but could hold down a lot when I did. (There's me, encouraging everyone to take more shots.) And I'm just a little girl :P I don't think I have celiac sprue but possibly a wheat allergy/intolerance based on symptoms - didn't see the doctor yet. So a few weeks ago, right around Christmas, I decided to stop eating wheat (or eat a very small amount). I didn't give up beer, though, because I'm not that strict in my diet. Anyway, what has happened the last few times I've been out drinking is that I can't hold down a lot! Two nights ago, I had just two and a half pints of beer over three hours. Then I poured a glass of wine, took two sips, and concluded that I would throw up if I had any more. Last night, I decided to see if it was the gluten in the beer that was bothering me, so no beer. I had about two glasses of wine over 4-5 hours and felt like I could have no more. I don't think you lost your tolerance because you started getting symptoms of celiac disease. I think it is because you stopped eating wheat. Wheat makes your body retain water, and I'm guessing this lowers the concentration of alcohol in your system, per serving. But there's probably something else at play. Now I'm freaking out. I don't care if my tolerance is lower. I just want to be sure I know how much I can drink before driving. I will be a lot more careful from now on.

Sudden lack of alcohol intolerance

Wow, I'm so glad I read your commment & responses! Thought I was going crazy or developing some strange illness! I've always been an infrequent drinker, but when i did drink I always had to drink quite a lot to even feel the effects of the alcohol. Since going gluten-free & feeling SO much more healthy, I have had three horrible encounters with alcohol that have left me absolutely baffled and scared to even get near the stuff ever again! The first time I actually thought I had the flu since I was so violently ill for three days of vomiting non-stop..then I went out and had 4 drinks and suddenly I was completely ill again..three more days just too be able to stand up straight and feel human. This last time I thought I would just have two drinks with tequila & well that was the worst experience of all! I have to think, at this point, that somehow clearing my body of the gluten has altered the alcohol processing, but why would I go from completely over-tolerant to completely intolerant? It makes me wonder if my intestines can truely be healing if they cannot handle even one drink like a normal person?


Glad i stumbled accross this thread.

I am having similar issues but maybe its just age(i doubt it as i am 25)
Never been one to drink every weekend and i don't tend to dirnk obseen amounts.
but i did find that when i was eating gluten i was fine in the mid section area after drinking.
But now after 2 years on just fresh food, i get a pain in my right side and diarhoaeea.

With us lot it is hard to distinguish what is the cause to any pain because to know EXACTLY what you have ingested cannot be found on the bottle.

I have actually given up alcohol and researching unless i really want something as the road to finding an answer is sometimes not worth the hassle.

Strongbow may contain gluten as they use caramel according to one website i found however this was an australian one.
Haribo's if yuo eat them have always contained gluten even though it said on the pack it didn't at one time.
Vitamin e products like soap and shampoo do too largely.
TOOTHPASTES stick with aquafresh maybe as they say all their toothepastes are gluten free.

I have actually stopped using soap and shampoos and to be honest my skin does feel a lot healthier but looks the same(apart from not looking dry)

fresh juices you better consult the manufacturer as i found that one that i was drinking, a well known one tropicana does in some of its products

i will add my emphatic "YES" to the chorus. I have celia, been gluten free for 6 years, and my tolerance for alcohol is extremely low. Got so sick on ONE martini that i blacked out (no recollection), passed out, vomited, and felt terribly sick for days. Once in a very long time I can tolerate a glass of wine or beer, usually it makes me feel pretty badly. the only thing i've been ok with is a fresh marguarita, although I haven't tested that in quite a while. my acupuncturist says my alcohol sensitive has to do with gut inflamation and consequent stress on the liver. i have basically stopped alcohol consumption altogether - i was never been a heavy drinker but i do miss an occasional drink. things could be worse.

Glad to find some info!

I am not coeliac, but I am severely gluten and wheat intolerant. (I get the DH rash and everything.. Gut damage.. etc.. have been GF for roughly a year) About two weeks ago I was playing a show with my band and was stunned when two drinks had me reeling. It was a different kind of feeling than any drunken sensations I've had before and was quite startling. I figured it to be a fluke until it happened again at our last show (a week ago). Two drinks and I was bombed... the thing I noticed the most was this extreme sensation of spinning, like my balance was gone. As a musician, I do drink more than some, and had built up a decent tolerance... So I was quite shocked (and a little frightened) by my sudden inability to tolerate alcohol. On a whim I decided to surf Google to see if anyone else had experienced this.. Only to find this post, where I saw my story and concerns voiced over and over again. I must say it is a huge relief to know I'm not the only one. It definitely seems to be tied in with the GF world... I can't help but wonder how/why... has anyone learned any more about this phenomenon?

Sudden Alcohol Intolerance

Thank goodness it's not just me! There are two issues here: Sudden Alcohol Intolerance and becoming extremely ill. My issue is with the Sudden Alcohol Intolerance. I am 40 years young and I have never been so embarrassed. I had 3 glasses of wine and went from zero to smashed! My husband was shocked and indicated if he hadn't been with me that he would have thought I was drugged. I will definitely be more careful!!! Thank you all for posting....Celiac & on a strict GF diet for 20 mos.


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