When you’re on a gluten-free diet, you get pretty used to checking absolutely every food label for gluten. After all, even the tiniest amount of the stuff can have dire consequences, from bloating and abdominal pain to anxiety and fatigue. For celiacs, consumption of gluten has the potential to lead to serious long-term health issues, such as stunted growth and osteoporosis. It’s a good idea to undergo celiac testing, to find out if you’re a celiac.
The good news, though, is that bottled water doesn’t contain gluten. In fact, water – be it running from a tap, flowing down a river or pouring out of a bottle – is gluten-free. So, you can drink as much water as you like, promoting hydration and overall health, without having to worry.
However, the same can’t be said for other types of drinks. Unfortunately, some of the bottled beverages you see on supermarket shelves can contain gluten or be contaminated with it. Unless they’ve been tested for gluten-free, you can never be sure. Read labels carefully before making a purchase.
Which drinks contain gluten?
When drinking something other than bottled water, you should check for gluten on a case by case basis. While one soft drink might be tested for gluten-free, another might contain a grain-based additive.
Let’s start with soft drinks, which we often turn to when we need a pick-me-up or a sweet hit. Many of these are gluten-free, but not all. One of the biggest risks with soft drinks is caramel, a colouring made from wheat, corn, sugar cane or sugar beet. Therefore, sometimes it contains gluten and sometimes it doesn’t.
Now, what about fruit-based drinks? The key here is to go for beverages that are 100% fruit juice. If you’ve been gluten-free for a while, you’re probably aware that fruit and vegetables are generally safe. So, if your juice has nothing in it but fruit, then it’s fine to drink.
However, if it’s made from a concentrate or with additives, then you need to more careful. Scour the label carefully to make sure that none of the additives mentioned have their origins in wheat, rye or barley. Also, be aware that, if the drink has gone through a complex process, it might have been at risk of cross-contamination. For peace of mind, 100% fruit juice is the answer.
Coffee is similar to fruit juice, in that the beans themselves don’t contain gluten. So, if you have a straight-forward long black, made with beans and water only, then there’s nothing to stress about. However, instant coffee is a different matter. In many cases, the coffee is processed with equipment that’s been exposed to gluten, so, as with non-pure juices, cross-contamination is a possibility. Be careful of added flavours and creamers, too.
How to introduce more gluten-free water into your day
Not only is bottled water gluten-free, it’s also free of the sugars, nutrition-free calories and caffeine contained in other beverages. Drinking water is the easiest and healthiest way to stay hydrated and energised.
However, when you’re running around, keeping down your job and taking care of friends and family members, it’s easy to forget to drink. To boost your hydration levels, get into the habit of drinking a glass of water immediately after waking up. In addition, carry a bottle of water around with you, everywhere you go. Try to remember to take sips during the day; if you find yourself forgetting, set an alarm on your phone to remind you.
Even after a few days of drinking water regularly, you’ll start to notice the difference. Think loads more energy, without the energy spikes caused by excessive sugar.