The Science of Living Gluten-Free: An Introduction

This is the first post in a series of posts by guest blogger Matt Stadler, co-founder of several startups, most recently Treatspace, a company that’s helping doctors better connect with their patients. In addition to his PhD in Chemistry from Carnegie Mellon, Matt is also gluten-intolerant and a craft beer connoisseur (which, as we all know, is a tough combination) and has a wealth of knowledge regarding celiac disease and gluten allergies.

Over the past decade, we have witnessed a significant shift in US beer culture. A surge of interest and appreciation of craft beers grew the niche to now represent nearly 10% of the US beer market (that’s a lot of beer). Aside from the increasing market footprint, craft brewers have helped drive an overall increase in the diversity and quality across all breweries. The past few years have been a fantastic and fun time to love and explore beers…for my wife.

You see, I have been unable to partake in this craft brew revolution. Though I am beyond fortunate to have found a smart, sexy wife who appreciates my inner nerd (we both have chemistry PhDs), is willing to whip up a few kids, AND loves to sit down for a great beer or two at the end of a day, I’m unfortunately gluten-intolerant and unable to drink traditional beers.

When I started expressing these glorious celiac-like genes about 7 years ago, the craft beer expansion was just getting in full swing. It was difficult to reconcile my demanding clinical needs with the simple joy I found during our outings to taste new brews or enjoying a great beer in front of a grill, a fire, a sunset, and pretty much any body of water. For some things, a poor substitute is akin (and possibly worse) to no substitute at all.

I managed to maintain my health, and enjoy alcoholic beverages again, through much trial and error. During this period of  experimenting, reading, researching, and talking with anyone that knew anything about celiac disease, I noticed a surprising number of knowledge gaps. In an attempt to bridge these gap, I’d like to share some thoughts and information over the next few posts that were pivotal for me to regaining good health. Specifically, I’ll be focusing on:

  1. Diagnosis: A look at HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen) and why it is significant
  2. Gluten: Just what is this stuff, and what is it actually doing?
  3. Co-incidence: Allergies and maladies that sometimes tag along

The population of people and families affected by celiac and gluten related disease is growing steadily and rapidly. Luckily for us gluten-free folks, this means there’s a growing market demand for quality foods, products, and beers that are safe. I’m thankful to those that have produced gluten and allergen free beers to date, but we’re still in the early days of this market. There remains much room for improvement and diversity. I’m excited to be a part of the extended Aurochs team, and I am expectantly hopeful for their contribution to the craft beer world: great beer, that happens to be gluten free.