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Another Study Okays Oats for Celiac Patients 03/26/2008 - According to the results of a recent study, adults with diet-treated celiac disease show no elevation in anti-avenin IgA by oats. Celiac disease is effectively treated with a gluten-free diet that is free of wheat, rye, barley and related grains. While it is well known that wheat, rye and barley trigger the disease, for decades there has been controversy about the safety of oats.

Recent evidence from a number of studies has supported the idea that oats are safe for people with celiac disease. In several countries, oats are now on the list of safe foods for people with celiac disease. The studies on oats and celiac disease have had various designs, but most have been small, and often with high patient drop-out rates. To date, there has only 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.

Most of these clinical studies have assessed blood histology in reaction to oats, or measured normalization after patients had been diagnosed with celiac disease and were already following gluten-free diets. Three large studies from Finland have investigated the effect of dietary oats and their influence on antibody levels to wheat gluten and to tissue transglutaminase. Previous studies have shown that people with untreated celiac disease show elevated IgA antibodies in reaction oat avenins. However, only one study on treated celiac disease patients has investigated IgA antibodies to oats.

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Researchers know of just three confirmed cases of active celiac disease flaring up again in adults after these people ingested oats, which indicates that intolerance to oats among celiacs may be rare, but also may in fact have some role to play in celiac disease. It also points to the need for clinical monitoring of celiac disease patients who eat oats.

A research team made up of Vigdis Guttormsen, Astrid Løvik, Asta Bye; Jorunn Bratlie, Lars Mørkrid, and Knut E. A. Lundin recently conducted a small study to determine whether treated adult celiac disease patients 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. The groups also showed a significant positive correlation between anti-avenin and antigliadin IgA (pB0.0001), and between anti-avenin and anti-tissue transglutaminase IgA (p 0.0012).

The researchers concluded that eating oats does not cause increased levels of IgA in adult 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. welcomes your comments below (registration is NOT required).

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9 Responses:

k bard
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said this on
29 Mar 2008 7:51:53 PM PDT
Very clear and helpful. I've been eating oatmeal for over a year, having been on the gluten free diet for 10 years. No ill effects, ever.

Harry Nichoalds
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said this on
30 Mar 2008 5:15:58 PM PDT
I have been on a strict (99-100%) gluten free diet for over 25 years. Ii'm over 80....I've waited for word on oats...thank you.

Tara W

said this on
01 Apr 2008 10:51:46 AM PDT
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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said this on
03 Sep 2012 5:51:45 AM PDT
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.

Frank D
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said this on
15 Apr 2008 2:19:38 PM PDT
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.

Jamia H
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said this on
02 May 2008 6:11:25 PM PDT
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!

Kristin J
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said this on
23 Mar 2010 2:17:06 PM PDT
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.

Mary T
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said this on
17 Jun 2008 7:44:40 AM PDT
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.

Patti M

said this on
14 Mar 2014 4:33:06 PM PDT
I am sensitive to oats. I am now finding that I need to read the label of GF 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 GF label. I was eating a muffin from a new GF 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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In's Forum Now:

Hello and welcome I don't have celiac. I do have several symptoms in common with you and I do have a problem with gluten, so NCGS for want of a better term. A celiac response to gluten involves the immune system so there certainly can be a delay between ingestion and the body producing...

This is why many of us stick to our own "Trusted Brands" of things we know are safe, and only buy stuff with the offical certification for gluten free. NOTE also in the US they do not HAVE to tell you their facility also processes wheat on the label, just if the actual product contains it in the ...

I make my own mini loafs of a simple almond,coconut,apple sauce blend for dense, bland bread gluten free, and have my pastor bless them. I then keep them in the freezer and bring a piece with me for communion.

I don't have milk in liquid form any more, so I switched to coconut flavoured milk (rice based) for cereal, really like it. Then I take coffee black which I've also adjusted to. For an occasional treat I'll have a soy latte, tastes a bit nutty but I'm used to it now and it's as much about the vis...

I and many others here have been there and sympathise! Keep on keepin' on, it won't be long now before you can start feeling better. In the meantime, if there's a cheesecake, pastry etc that you want to say goodbye to, now's the time...