For Those With Celiac Disease, Oats May Be Safe After All

Following a gluten-free diet becomes commonplace for anyone who is diagnosed with celiac disease. They quickly learn that there is a flurry of foods to avoid, and wheat, barley, and rye are at the top of this list. The reason for this is that the protein gluten is found in these particular grains, among other foods, and it cannot be properly digested by someone with celiac. While there are certain absolute “no-no’s” with celiac, one grain has been the subject of much controversy: oats.

Originally, oats were one of the grains that came to mind to be avoided for someone with a gluten allergy. However, as of late there are many who speculate that oats might be OK after all. This has led to much controversy as people are trying to uncover the truth behind the consumption of oats for those with celiac. Recent research shows that oats do not actually contain gluten protein, but they have long been on the do not eat list. The real issue is the fact that oats are quite often grown in the field, alongside of gluten containing grains.

The concern is that there may be cross-contact contamination during the growing and harvesting phase, or during the transporting of the grains from the fields. Or in many cases the contamination occurs in the factories where other products are being developed. Anyone with celiac knows that quite often even a trace amount of gluten can cause a reaction.

Over the past few years things have been changing, as more and more plantations are making sure that the oats they are planting are free of contamination. Manufacturers are now working to ensure that oats are certified gluten-free by having them grow in fields that are pure and free of cross contaminants.

 And many companies only develop products in factories that are designated gluten-free facilities.

Studies have been conducted on those who are consuming certified gluten-free oats to ascertain if there are any long-term effects. Results show that there is no evidence of harmful effects related to consuming oats that are pure and not contaminated. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics even released a position statement on oats stating that most people with celiac can eat up to 50 grams per day of gluten-free oats without any issues.

There is evidence, however, that a very small number of people with celiac disease will react instead to a protein found in pure oats, as if they were reacting to gluten. The protein in question is called avenin, which seems to adversely affect less than 1 percent of the population with celiac.

For those who are opting to add oats to their diet, despite the celiac disease diagnosis, it is important to choose those that are deemed “pure” oats and to add it slowly.

This will allow you to be certain it is something you can tolerate. It is important to also add more water to your diet if in fact you are going to consume oats.

Many people, even those without celiac, find that oats can have an effect on their gastrointestinal system. As oats are high in fiber, they can cause bloating and even diarrhea for some people who are not used to eating so much fiber. However, as you add more water to your diet and your body gets used to the fiber these symptoms should resolve.

As oats serve as a great source of protein and B vitamins and have a cholesterol lowering effect, it is no wonder that so many people opt to include them in their diet. For some people hot oatmeal serves as the perfect breakfast, while others use oats to thicken their smoothies. In fact oats can even be used as an alternative to breadcrumbs when making things like meatballs or meatloaf or as part of the crumble atop a cake. With so many uses for oatmeal in cooking, it is no wonder that many companies are working hard to make them safe for those with gluten allergies and intolerances.

Bottom line: Before your celiac diagnosis has you rule them out, take the time to find “pure” oats that are certified gluten-free and give it a try. As long as you feel healthy eating them, they can be a nice addition to your diet.

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