Are rye and barley gluten free?

If you’re someone who suffers from gluten intolerance, then you know the struggle of finding foods that are actually safe to eat. It’s not just bread and pasta that can contain gluten, but also alcoholic beverages like beer! So today we’re going to talk about two common grains – rye and barley – and answer the question: are rye and barley gluten free?

What is Gluten?

Before we dive into whether or not rye and barley contain gluten, let’s first do a quick refresher on what gluten actually is.

Gluten is a type of protein that is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut, etc. It gives dough its elasticity by providing structure and helping it rise. However for those with celiac disease or sensitivity to gluten it can lead to inflammation in the small intestine.

Is Rye Gluten-Free?

Unfortunately for fans of pumpernickel bread, no, rye does contain gluten. In fact ,rye contains a high level of secalin which makes it unsuitable for people with Coeliac Disease or non-coeliac patients who avoid eating ‘gluten’. So if you have a sensitivity or allergy to gluten, steer clear of anything containing rye flour .

Is Barley Gluten-Free?

Just like RYE ,Barley contains various types of proteins known as prolamins (Hordeins) which when consumed trigger celiac disease attacks among susceptible individuals.Barley also ranks high among substances Contains moderate levels arginine glutamine residues.The body considers them foreign invasions thereby mounting an immune response against this large Biochemical structure- The body generates specific antibodies termed tissue transglutaminase(anti-gliadin).

So unfortunately the answer here once again is NO barring obvious exceptions!

Does Beer Contain Gluten From Both Grains?

Many beer brewing companies use a mix of malted barley and wheat. Therefore it’s safe to assume Beer is off the menu when one has Gluten Intolerance.More so because To be classified as gluten-free, foodstuffs must contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. Unfortunately since research carried out showed that most beers even the low-gluten types contained more ppm levels i.e approxiamately 50 ppm.Thus to avoid complications It‘s important you read the labels in case an exceptions exists.

Alternatives for Rye and Barley

OK ,so we know that rye flour and barley contains gluten which makes them unsuitable for people with Celiac disease, sensitivity or allergy to gluten. But there are still plenty of other options available!

  • Brown Rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Corn Flour
  • Oats( if certified Gluten-Free)
  • Millet

Why not try swapping your usual cupcake for buckwheat? Or how about adding some millet flakes to your morning porridge instead? The possibilities are endless!

Tips on How To Shop For Grains When You Have Coeliac Disease

Going shopping can be quite tricky because lots of products don’t have labelling therefore vigilance is needed .Here are our top tips:

1.Look out for naturally gluten-free grains like brown rice.
2.Always check the Fine print(ie – “May Contain Traces Of Wheat Or Meslin”).
3.Buy Certified ‘Gluten Free’ products whenever possible.
4.Avoid bulk bins, where cross-contamination risks can occur ..
5.Inquire from your local health stores they may tend towards providing you better grain alternatives with information regarding their ingredients.


The bottom line on this issue, I believe it is crystal clear now! BothRyeand Barley contain large amounts of prolamin proteins including secalin and hordein respectively.They are therefore, not gluten-free,and should be avoided if one has Coeliac Disease or Gluten Sensitivity.The good news is that there are plenty of alternatives available in case you were already feeling low!

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