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  • Jefferson Adams

    Oats Not Safe for Some People with Celiac Disease

    Jefferson Adams
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    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons--Loadmaster
    Caption: Photo: Wikimedia Commons--Loadmaster

    Celiac.com 12/01/2014 - For years, a debate has raged among researchers and among people with celiac disease about the safety of oats.

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons--LoadmasterFor American researchers, gluten-free oats have generally been regarded as safe for people with celiac disease, and the decision about whether to include oats in a gluten-free diet has been left to the individual. In Australia, oats are not recommended for people with celiac disease.



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    Now, that question looks to be answered, and it turns out, both sides are correct. Oats are generally safe for the vast majority of people with celiac disease. However, Australian researchers recently showed that oats do trigger an adverse immune response in some people with celiac disease. Moreover, they identified the key components in oats that trigger the reaction.

    The 10-year study, published this month in the Journal of Autoimmunity, showed that oats were well tolerated by most people with celiac disease, but that oat consumption triggered an immune response in eight per cent of the participants with celiac disease. The immune responses mirror those caused by eating barley.

    This is somewhat earth-shaking, in that it lends scientific credibility to the idea that some people with celiac disease cannot safely eat oats.

    Dr Jason Tye-Din, head of celiac research at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and a gastroenterologist at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, said the study reveals the role of oats in stimulating immune responses in people with celiac disease.

    The fact that the team was able to isolate the specific parts of oat that are toxic to some people with celiac disease should help researchers to develop accurate tests for oat toxicity, and to better tailor dietary treatment for people with the disease.

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    Guest Catherine Becker

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    I have always had problems with oats. Even as a child before I heard of celiac disease. When I work work in the oat or wheat fields, the next day I would be so sick. My stomach hurt and other things that I know are now are celiac disease related. I can,t eat oats to this day, even gluten free.

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    I'm in the 8%, and that was from a Bob's Red Mill gluten-free oatmeal. Now I stick with their Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal, with brown rice, corn, sorghum, and buckwheat.

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    I have always had problems with oats. Even as a child before I heard of celiac disease. When I work work in the oat or wheat fields, the next day I would be so sick. My stomach hurt and other things that I know are now are celiac disease related. I can,t eat oats to this day, even gluten free.

    I have a reaction when feeding wheat hay, mainly if the wind blows hay back on me or a cow gives a slice of hay a big shake and gets it on me.

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    Oatmeal porridge was breakfast in our house ever since I was born - it made me nauseous just to look at it so I managed to avoid it - but - there were oatmeal cookies which I loved - and got violently sick after - this was long before I was diagnosed - therefore - oat products have been off my diet despite many celiacs telling me they had no problems - thank you for clarifying the situation - I too am a member of the 8% club:)

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    Guest Kristin Jordan

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    I'm also one of the 8% of celiacs that can't tolerate any oats, and my trigger was also Bob's Red Mill gluten-free oatmeal, which I tried for the first time two years after I was diagnosed with celiac disease. It's difficult to be a no-oats celiac in the U.S., where many gluten-free products that do not contain oats share production lines with "gluten-free" oats. I had residual villous atrophy until I dropped all gluten-free products from Bob's Red Mill (not just oats) and Lundberg Rice (use oats as a cover crop).

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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 2,500 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. 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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