Gluten-Free Oats Are Safe for Those With Gluten Allergy

A growing number of health professionals and celiac organizations around the world now allow consumption of moderate amounts of pure, uncontaminated oat products in a GF diet.

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Until recently, oats were not recommended for those on a gluten-free diet (GF diet) used to treat those with celiac disease.  Oats were believed to trigger the same toxic reaction in the small intestine as wheat, rye and barley. However, many studies from Europe and the U.S. have revealed that consumption of oats is safe for the majority of children and adults with celiac disease.

The main problem with oats in gluten-free eating is cross contamination.

Researchers found that the reason celiacs could not tolerate oats was because they had gluten in them due to cross contamination with wheat gluten during processing, storage and transport.

Most commercial oat products contain wheat flour or gluten

Most commercial oat products on the market have been cross-contaminated with wheat, barley and/or rye, which occur during harvesting, transportation, storage, milling, processing and packaging.

Most commercial oats are processed in facilities that also process wheat, barley, and rye. The gluten in these ingredients can contaminate oats, and the nature of most gluten intolerances is that even a trace amount of gluten can cause severe discomfort.

Contamination of oats with wheat may occur due to the sharing of equipment in grain processing and the rotation of crops (wheat may be grown on the same field as oats were). Therefore, contamination may be the cause of adverse reactions to oats often reported by gluten-sensitive individuals.

So even though gluten is not found within the oat, it is on it and this can be just as harmful to a person with Celiac Disease. If oats were grown completely away from wheat and barely and farmers dedicated their equipment to only the oat fields, they should be gluten-free.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that no commercial brand of oats were reliably gluten-free. In fact, nine of the twelve samples from three major brands of oats showed gluten levels ranging from 1,807 to 23 ppm gliadin..( Gluten is a composite of the proteins gliadin and glutenin).For oat products to be considered gluten-free, they must show less than 20ppm of gliadin.

The good news is that “Pure,” Uncontaminated Oats Have Come on the Market

Non-contaminated, pure oats are gluten-free and therefore are are safe for most people with gluten-intolerance

Health Canada has issued a position paper on the safety of oats in celiac disease. The Canadian Celiac Association Professional Advisory Board, in consultation with Health Canada, has developed a position statement on using pure, uncontaminated oats. It says that adults with celiac can safely consume half to three-quarters of a cup (50 to 70 grams) of dry rolled oats per day. For children, it’s one-quarter cup (20 to 25 grams) per day.

Oat products can now be found that are not cross contaminated

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There are several companies who now sell “certified gluten-free oats,” which are oats that are farmed, harvested, processed and packed using special methods to avoid cross-contamination with gluten during every step of the way.

Many other companies are using these pure, uncontaminated oats from the producers listed below in their gluten-free products. Examples include Gluten-free Foods oatmeal, NoNuttin granola bars and granola, and Holly’s oatmeal.

Gluten-free oats currently sell for around $4 to $5 a pound. These type of oats are typically tested for gliadin to less than 3ppm, and are thus considered safe for celiacs.

These can be tried after an initial period of 6 months to see if they can be tolerated. Most, but not all patients can tolerate pure oat products.

gluten-free-oatsTwo vendors that offer oats that can be considered safe for people who are gluten intolerant are:

Gluten Free Oats®, certified gluten free oats.

Gifts of Nature Certified Gluten-Free Rolled Oats.

These oat products are considered safe for those with celiac disease because they were tested to be below 10 parts per million (ppm) by the University of Nebraska FARRP Laboratory.

Before adding pure, uncontaminated oat products to your diet, it is recommend that you consult with your physician and dietitian. It is also very important that your celiac disease be well-controlled on the GF diet and that you have no gastrointestinal complaints.

it should be noted that a very small number of individuals with celiac disease may not even tolerate pure oats. The mechanism causing this intolerance has yet to be established

A diet containing oats is often higher in fiber than the typical GF diet, therefore some individuals may experience a change in stool pattern or mild gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal bloating and gas. This will resolve as the body adjusts to the change in the amount and type of fiber. When adding a new fiber source such as oats, it is important to consume more fluids, especially water.

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