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Confused About Oats

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I am a little confused on the use of oats. I had read that many countries including our own think that oats are ok for the gluten free diet. I am very sensitive since I have been gluten free since May of last year but every once in awhile I do experience some of the gluten symptoms so I was wondering. Are we sure that oats are OK ??? Or have I been poisining my body? Please advise ?

Thanks Pat Embury


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The real answer: there is no real answer.

Studies show that the protein structure of avenin (the oat-specific gluten molecule) is only somewhat similar to the protein structure of gliandin (the wheat-specific gluten molecule). So, in theory, oats should be safe for most celiacs. Almost all clinical trials have found that many patients tolerate MODERATE quantities (~50g/week, I believe) of specially grown, uncontaminated oats without changes in blood serology or intestinal damage. BUT almost all of these trials have a non-trivial number of drop-outs (5-15%) from patients who experience severe symptoms. This leads me to believe that MOST celiacs will be find with MODERATE amounts of UNCONTAMINATED oats, but not all.

Problem is, uncontaminated oats are hard to find. Someone once examined the gliandin content of various brands of oats and found that McCann's were - by far - the least contaminated. Contaminated at levels low enough that we wouldn't really worry about it. (I believe it was on the order of 0.002% of the protein was gliandin.) Most other major brands, and virtually all American brands, have problems with the oats being grown near wheat fields, or the oat crops being rotated with wheat crops, and hence getting wheat in the oat harvest.

In the end, it's a personal decision. You might try eliminating oats from your diet for a week (making sure that you are doing a VERY good job to keep everything else gluten-free) and then trying a bowl of oatmeal and seeing how you feel. A dietary challenge can be an effective, and conclusive, test in and of itself.


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