Should you eat oats if you have problems with gluten?

By | January 29, 2014

Should you eat oats if you have problems with gluten?

Here is my question today, should you eat oats if you have problems with gluten?  Today I will share Dr. Osborne’s post on this subject so you can decide. When I decided that gluten, wheat and grains had to be eliminated from my diet that included oats for me.  In my way of thinking it just made sense that all grains must be gone.  I know for some this seems a bit drastic however for me it was easier than feeling horrible.  And initially my test was for 30 days.  If I didn’t feel any better in that first 30 days then I would go back to my “eat anything” strategy.

Should you eat oats if you have problems with gluten?

So if you are gluten sensitive or Celiac and wondering “Should you eat oats if you have problems with gluten this is a must read!

Are Oats Safe to Eat on a Gluten Free Diet?

Oats are commonly recommended for those going on a gluten free diet as a safe substitute food.  The classic or traditional definition of gluten includes only wheat, barley, rye (sometimes oats, sometimes not).  So the big question is – Should you eat oats if you have problems with gluten?

Why All the Confusion?

The common response I hear back from people is – “Dr. Osborne, I don’t feel bad when I eat oatmeal.”  or “My other doctor says that oatmeal is safe.”  or “The package of oatmeal claims to be gluten free.”

Keep in mind the following:  It is not how bad you feel after consumption that tells you whether or not you are having an inflammatory immune reaction.  This type of damage can take years to manifest into symptoms.  That is one of the primary reasons that most people diagnosed with gluten problems don’t get their diagnosis until later in life.  The inflammatory damage builds over time, and is typically not an immediate response.  The food labeling laws don’t include oatmeal because there is not a firm scientific consensus.  Many claim that celiac patients react to oats only because they are cross contaminated with wheat.  And although it is true that many packaged grain products are cross contaminated, non cross contaminated oats have also been shown to cause an inflammatory reaction in patients diagnosed with gluten intolerance.  The bigger problem here is that doctors and the gluten free food industry completely ignore the research on this topic, and continue to claim that oats are a safe substitute food.  But before you make a decision to include oat cereal products into your diet, consider the research studies below:

Current Research on Oats

There have been a number of research studies performed to evaluate the safety of oat consumption.  Many of them report that components in oat proteins cause inflammation and elicit damage in patients with gluten sensitivity.  Most recently, a study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that some forms of oat protein triggered and antibody reaction.  Another study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology found two varieties of oat proteins were responsible for increased intraepithelial T-cell density and IFN-γ production (both of these are signs of increased inflammation).

In 2012 a research study was published identifying a…

direct correlation of the immunogenicity of the different oat varieties with the toxicity of peptides present in their avenin sequences.

In plain English please – Proteins in oat cereal stimulated an immune response similar to what is seen from wheat.

The studies above were all published after Jan. of 2011.  In medicine, it can take 20-30 years for new information to become common knowledge among doctors.  So I don’t expect that many physicians will be talking about the potential for oat to be a problem for those with gluten sensitivity.  That being said, let’s take a look at a comprehensive review of the medical literature that was published in 2011 compiling 75 studies published on the topic since 1953.  The summary from the authors are quoted below:

Oats in a gluten-free diet increase the diet’s nutritional value, but their use remains controversial.Contamination with prolamins of other cereals is frequent, and some clinical and experimental studies support the view that a subgroup of celiac patients may be intolerant to pure oats. Thus, this issue is more complex than previously suggested. In order to produce oats that are safe for all celiac patients, the following topics should be addressed: selection of oat cultivars with low avenin content, research on such recombinant varieties of oats, development of assay methods to detect avenins in oat products, guidelines for the agricultural processing of oats and the manufacture of oat products, as well as guidelines for following up with celiac patients who consume oats.

Resources:

  1. Silano M, et al.  Diversity of oat varieties in eliciting the early inflammatory events in celiac disease.  Eur J Nutr
  2. Maglio M, Mazzarella G, Barone MV, et al.  Immunogenicity of two oat varieties,in relation to their safety for celiac patients.Scand J Gastroenterol. 2011 Oct;46(10):1194-205.
  3. Real A, Comino I, de Lorenzo L, et al.  Molecular and immunological characterization of gluten proteins isolated from oat cultivars that differ in toxicity for celiac disease.  PLoS One. 2012;7(12).
  4. Fric P, Gabrovska D, Nevoral J. Celiac disease, gluten-free diet, and oats.  Nutr Rev. 2011 Feb;69(2):107-15.

Oat Safety Summary

Oats contain a form of gluten often times referred to as avenin, and this protein represents  12-16% of the total protein found in oats.   This in and of itself makes it virtually impossible for oats to be gluten free.  This number is low compared to the 69% gluten protein composition of wheat, and it may in part account for the fact that people report less negative reactions when consuming oats.  It is well established the 20 ppm (parts per million) – roughly the size of a bread crumb is enough gluten to create and inflammatory reaction in patients with gluten sensitivity.  It has also been shown that many patient embarking on a traditional gluten free diet (avoiding wheat, barley, and rye, but not other grains) continue to remain ill.   The diagram below compares the gluten protein content of different grains:

Gluten composition of grains

The bulk of scientific literature investigating oat safety is in agreement that more research is needed before making a blanket statement that oats are safe for everyone.  Some laboratories now offer limited testing for oat allergy.  These labs are not accurate enough and do not investigate the inflammatory response to oats in a comprehensive manor, and therefor should not be the basis to include oats in the diet.  Because it is currently not possible to extract the forms of oat gluten known to cause damage out of the cereal, avoidance of oats as a substitute food for a gluten free diet is strongly recommended.

Key Points:

  • There is no such thing as a “gluten free” oat.
  • As many as 41% of processed packaged foods labeled gluten free contain enough gluten to cause damage (oats included)
  • 20 ppm exposure can allow for persistent damage
  • Several types of gluten protein in oats have been shown to cause inflammation
  • Although often times labeled gluten free, oats contain gluten.

So there you have it.  The answer to the question should you eat oats if you have problems with gluten according to Dr. Osborne is quite clear as he indicates in the key points above. Have you been told that oats ar OK to include in your gluten free diet? Share your thoughts in the comments.  Like this post and Share with your friends and family if you feel it will be of benefit.

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Let today be your day! Talk soon,

 

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should you eat oats if you have problems with gluten?
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should you eat oats if you have problems with gluten?
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Here is my question today, should you eat oats if you have problems with gluten? Today I will share Dr. Osborne's post on this subject so you can decide.
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62 thoughts on “Should you eat oats if you have problems with gluten?

  1. Robin (Masshole Mommy)

    This is great information. We don’t eat a gluten free diet in our house and honestly, I didn’t understand it really, but thanks to this post I feel more informed.

    Reply
    1. Wendy Bottrell Post author

      It is my understanding that your brand is generally a safe gluten free brand. If you are concerned just be in touch with the company to ensure they are completely gluten free with no possible cross contamination

      Reply
  2. Terry

    Here is what I found out about myself. I thought I had a gluten problem. Come to find out, I had a carb problem. The Drs didn’t tell me this, I had to figure it out all on my own. I have figured out if I watch my carbs, I do much better, but usually gluten free foods digest better than the gluten.

    Reply
  3. Elise

    My understanding is that you can be allergic to gliadin (the gluten in wheat), but not avanin, in which case oats are safe. Others however are allergic to all forms of Gluten, and in their case, oats should be avoided just as much as any other glutenous food.

    I would certainly like to see more specific sensitivity testing.

    Reply
    1. Wendy Bottrell Post author

      Yes yet with oats a big problem is cross contamination. Thanks for connecting

      Reply
  4. lawna

    this is very interesting. My friend suffers from a gluten issue so this is a good question for her.

    Reply
  5. Michele

    I do not have gluten intolerance-possibly because I was allergic to wheat products as a child but out grew it-although because I did not become accustomed to digesting it as a child I still do have problems with that on a rare occasion-especially corn! From what I read above if you are really positive you are gluten sensitive or celiac-then stay away from oats–better safe then sorry.

    Reply
  6. Amberlee Cave

    Thank you for sharing this! I want to start a gluten-free diet and I’m sure this question would come up sooner or later! Thanks!

    Reply
  7. Ave

    My husband tries to eat gluten free and so far, he has been ok with oats. Thanks for an interesting post!

    Reply
  8. Grandma Bonnie

    Thanks for all the great information. I had no clue that oats we not considered gluten free. My grandson eats gluten free so this is great information to keep in mind when cooking for him.

    Reply
  9. becca

    i get so confused as to what you can and can’t eat when you are on all these different diets. I wish there was a clear easy way to figure it all out

    Reply
    1. Wendy Bottrell Post author

      Yes it can be challenging to live gluten, wheat and grain free today because so many foods have these ingredients in them.

      Reply
  10. Jennifer Williams

    Now I am curious, I am Gluten Free but was told Oatmeal was fine, I literally eat it every single morning and have not had an issue but other foods that are not gluten free cause issues for me. I wonder if all gluten is the same or if some is different – hope that makes sense!

    Reply
    1. Wendy Bottrell Post author

      Check out this article from Dr. Osborne! It may help in understanding gluten

      Reply
  11. Ashley Gill

    I am gluten intolerant and have been told I can only eat Quick Oats… I don’t eat them often, but occasionally I’ll have a bowl of them or a cookie that has them in it.

    Reply
  12. Eliz Frank

    It was interesting to read the research material you gathered. TY! While I don’t run a gluten-free household, I’m lactose sensitive and we eat organic foods and no red meat. Each member in my home has certain sensitivities and we take care to address them. For us, its case by case, so I suppose the same might apply to oats.
    Elizabeth

    Reply
  13. Amber Edwards

    This was such a great read. I have a few friends who have celiacs disease and others who just want to be gluten free, just because. So it is really interesting to see more on the subject of if oats are safe or not.

    Reply
  14. Amanda Love

    I can eat gluten but this is great information for those who are thinking of going the gluten free way. i have been reading up on it and have noticed all the benefits that it entails and have been thinking of taking it out of my diet as well but will have to do it gradually.

    Reply
  15. kay adeola

    This is interesting information thank you for sharing,we do not have a gluten free diet here but i have family members that do so i will pass this on.

    Reply
    1. Wendy Bottrell Post author

      Thanks for sharing the info! Let me know if I can help

      Reply
  16. Susan Schiller

    My daughter has just gone on a gluten-free diet and she’s feeling remarkably better. I don’t know if she knows about oats, though, so I’m glad to have come across this information today.

    You say, “As many as 41% of processed packaged foods labeled gluten free contain enough gluten to cause damage (oats included)” – This is really dismaying, especially for people who depend on eating gluten-free to remain free from discomfort! Thank you for the warnings and also the information!

    Reply
    1. Wendy Bottrell Post author

      Thanks for connecting. Eating real food is what I have found to be the easiest way to avoid the cross contamination challenge with Gluten!

      Reply
  17. Nate

    This is very interesting. I eat oats but never had any issues, but on the gluten free side, I don’t eat much of it. This is something to think about. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  18. amanda @attachedmoms

    Can someone be tested for oat intolerance specifically?

    Reply
  19. Theresa

    We don’t eat a gluten free diet in our house, but I am slowly cutting back on it anyhow. This is a very informative post. My neighbor suffers from celiacs disease. I will pass this post on to her.

    Reply
  20. Nikki

    This is fantastic information for anyone with gluten issues. I don’t have a gluten allergy, but sometimes I do like to try the gluten-free versions of stuff. I’ve found a few yummy things that way!

    Reply
    1. Wendy Bottrell Post author

      Thanks! For sure there are yummy things with no gluten, grains and wheat!

      Reply
  21. Mel Cole

    That’s sad that people who likes to eat oatmeal can’t have it if they are in gluten free diet. I really like to eat oatmeal and I’m glad that I don’t have that kind of diet.

    Reply
    1. Wendy Bottrell Post author

      Better to eliminate foods with gluten, wheat and grains than have poor health for sure. Thanks for connecting

      Reply
    2. Wendy Bottrell Post author

      Yup eliminating foods that contain gluten, wheat and grains can be a challenge however feeling better and healthier is so worth it

      Reply
  22. mel

    Great information. My cousin has celiac disease and has to be so careful!

    Reply
    1. Wendy Bottrell Post author

      Yes careful for sure to be strong and healthy for a lifetime. Thanks

      Reply
  23. Chubskulit Rose

    Thank you so much for this useful information. My husband daughter love oats for breakfast and I did not know some of these things you mentioned.

    Reply
  24. Marielle Altenor

    Very informative post! I only hear about people have issues with gluten. Thankfully no one in my house has that issue.

    Reply
  25. Teri

    Wow! I never knew that oatmeal could cause problems. A very informative post! #SITSBlogging #CommentLove

    Reply
    1. Wendy Bottrell Post author

      Thanks for connecting! I know right it has been quite a journey for my in living gluten, wheat and grain free.

      Reply
  26. Tammy @ creativekkids.com

    This is so interesting as it is becoming such a big problem. i have a friend who only has a gluten sensitivity–not celiac disease. She has to cut out all gluten, but still has been able to eat oats. Thanks for all your research in this area and for your clear presentation. I’m coming by from #SITSBlogging.

    Reply
    1. Wendy Bottrell Post author

      Thanks for connecting. Yes gluten is a huge issue today for many individuals even if they are not celiac like your friend.

      Reply

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