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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Another Study Okays Oats for Celiac Patients

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Celiac.com 03/26/2008 - According to the results of a recent study,adults with diet-treated celiac disease show no elevation inanti-avenin IgA by oats. Celiac disease is effectively treated with agluten-free diet that is free of wheat, rye, barley and related grains. Whileit is well known that wheat, rye and barley trigger the disease, fordecades there has been controversy about the safety of oats.

    Recentevidence from a number of studies has supported the idea that oats aresafe for people with celiac disease. In several countries, oats are nowon the list of safe foods for people with celiac disease. The studieson oats and celiac disease have had various designs, but most have beensmall, and often with high patient drop-out rates. To date, there hasonly been a single randomized and double-blinded study measuring the effects of oats on celiac patients. The studies have been nearly unanimous in concluding that consumption of oats is safe to celiac disease patients.

    Mostof these clinical studies have assessed blood histology in reaction tooats, or measured normalization after patients had been diagnosed withceliac disease and were already following gluten-free diets. Threelarge studies from Finland have investigated the effect of dietary oatsand their influence on antibody levels to wheat gluten and to tissuetransglutaminase. Previous studies have shown that people withuntreated celiac disease show elevated IgA antibodies in reaction oatavenins. However, only one study on treated celiac disease patients hasinvestigated IgA antibodies to oats.

    Researchers know of justthree confirmed cases of active celiac disease flaring up again inadults after these people ingested oats, which indicates thatintolerance to oats among celiacs may be rare, but also may in facthave some role to play in celiac disease. It also points to the need for clinical monitoring of celiac disease patients who eat oats.

    Aresearch team made up of Vigdis Guttormsen, Astrid Løvik, Asta Bye;Jorunn Bratlie, Lars Mørkrid, and Knut E. A. Lundin recently conducteda small study to determine whether treated adult celiac diseasepatients who ate oats showed elevated levels if IgA. The research team compared blood samples of 136 adult patients with treated celiac disease against 139 controls. The team used ELISA to test the blood samples to measure IgA against oats avenin, wheat gliadin and tissue trans-glutaminase.

    Eighty-two of the celiac disease patients had been eating oats as part of their gluten-free diet for 6 months or more.  Both the oats-eating and non-oats-eating celiac disease patients showed no significant differences in IgA against oats. However, both groups did show elevated levels of IgA against wheat, oats and tissue tTG compared to healthy controls. Thegroups also showed a significant positive correlation betweenanti-avenin and antigliadin IgA (pB0.0001), and between anti-avenin andanti-tissue transglutaminase IgA (p 0.0012).

    The researchersconcluded that eating oats does not cause increased levels of IgA inadult celiac disease patients on a gluten-free diet. The findings support the notion that most adult celiac disease patients can tolerate oats.

    Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, 43:2, 161 - 165.


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    I've reacted to oatmeal before. I have read that in the U.S. most oats are processed on the same equipment that's used for wheat processing and that the amount of gluten contamination can vary widely. I have found that I can tolerate organic oats with no problem -- maybe because it's processed more carefully?

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    Since I was diagnosed 5 years ago after 40 years of mistakes I have been eating oats. I try not to eat anything that was processed on machinery that process wheat. For me it is not worth the risk. I do not ever want to feel that way again.

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    I knew I reacted to oats, and looked forward to obtaining gluten-free oatmeal. However, I also reacted to the certified gluten-free (expensive!) oats as well, with symptoms quite similar to what happens when I've eaten gluten. Although avenin sensitivity may be rare, it is obviously present for me!

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    When I was diagnosed 4 years ago, I had read about the oatmeal being a safe produce to consume. I continue to eat oatmeal without any side effects. I guess I am one of the lucky ones.

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    I knew I reacted to oats, and looked forward to obtaining gluten-free oatmeal. However, I also reacted to the certified gluten-free (expensive!) oats as well, with symptoms quite similar to what happens when I've eaten gluten. Although avenin sensitivity may be rare, it is obviously present for me!

    I'm oat sensitive, too, and learned the hard way. I tried a whole bowl of the certified gluten free oats for the first time two years after my celiac diagnosis. I was violently ill within two hours of eating them and stayed sick for a week. I used to eat oats daily before being diagnosed with celiac disease. I didn't realize how much more instantly sensitive of the food you can become after your system has healed on the gluten-free diet. I caution those celiacs trying "gluten-free" oats for the first time to start with a very small portion.

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    I've reacted to oatmeal before. I have read that in the U.S. most oats are processed on the same equipment that's used for wheat processing and that the amount of gluten contamination can vary widely. I have found that I can tolerate organic oats with no problem -- maybe because it's processed more carefully?

    In Norway, the biggest producer of oat products ("Bjørn Havregryn"), have a gluten-free variant of oat grains for making oat porridge. This is guaranteed to be produced in a clean environment, and that means no wheat or other gluten products are produced by a nearby field, and it is processed in a clean environment that is not contaminated by gluten products.

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    I am sensitive to oats. I am now finding that I need to read the label of gluten-free products to see if they contain oats. A lot of producers think that they can now add oats to their recipes and still use the gluten-free label. I was eating a muffin from a new gluten-free bakery and could not figure why I was getting an upset stomach even after I read the label. Turns out they use oats in some of their products and this was a cross contamination. It was really good though - too bad.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, science, and advanced research, and scientific methods. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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