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Oats and Celiac Disease: Are They Gluten-Free?

This category contains articles that cover the safety of oats in the gluten-free diet. It is now generally accepted that non-contaminated gluten-free oats are safe for a celiac disease diet, with the exception of a small minority of celiacs who may have an additional intolerance to Avenin.

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    Oat giant Nairn's is looking to gluten-free oats to grow its sales. Photo: CC--Kari Csaba

    Anyone who knows their oats will tell you Nairn's is a familiar name in the industry. The iconic Scottish grocery brand began making that name as Nairn's Oatcakes in 1896, when John and Sarah Nairn set up a village bakery in Strathaven, Lanarkshire. More than 120 years later, it has grown from cottage industry to large-scale production, with about 150 workers, and revenues in excess of £27 million this past year.

    But consumer tastes, and challenges in production, retail and marketing all press the firm to adjust operations to keep pace, according to managing director Martyn Gray.

    Photo: CC--Matt Lavin

    The Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) is an organization that certifies gluten-free products and food services. The GIG's latest definition and requirements for the product purity protocol was published by AACC International. The purity protocol defines the way of growing, harvesting and processing oats to keep them safe from gluten contamination, GIG's CEO, Cynthia Kupper, said.

    Are oats part of a safe gluten-free diet for people on celiac disease? Photo: CC--R. Pavich

    To avoid symptoms, and promote full gut healing, people with celiac disease should follow a strict gluten-free diet. Oats might increase the nutritional value of a gluten-free diet, but their inclusion for people with celiac disease remains controversial, and data have been conflicting.

    A team of researchers recently set out to determine the safety of adding oats to a gluten-free diet for patients with celiac disease.

    Gluten-free oats are important for celiacs on a gluten-free diet. Photo: CC--Pedro Reyna

    Some people with celiac disease want to make sure their oats are gluten-free. A few extra steps can help.

    Tests show oat products labeled gluten-free to have gluten contamination levels almost three-times higher than other gluten-free products. Photo: CC--Travis Wise

    According to test samples, gluten-free oat products are almost three times more likely to be contaminated with gluten than other gluten-free products.

    Photo: CC--Pedro Reyna

    Have scientists finally figured out the oat proteins that trigger adverse immune reactions in some people with celiac disease?

    Photo: CC--Matt Lavin

    The answer to the "oats questions" are becoming clearer. The long-asked question is "Can people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity safely eat oats?" Some people are so sensitive, that even the tiniest bit of gluten makes them feel unwell. So this answer is important because people on a gluten-free diet should not restrict foods unnecessarily.

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons--Loadmaster

    Australian researchers recently showed that oats do trigger an adverse immune response in some people with celiac disease.


    Experts have decreed that pure oats are safe for people with celiac disease.  The definition of this disease is based on a very specific type of injury to the intestinal wall that heals following the removal of gluten from the diet.  This intestinal damage, called villous atrophy, is caused by the interaction between the immune system and certain proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley.

    New study indicates that the type of oats matters for celiacs.
    The safety of oats for patients with celiac disease depends on the variety of oat - some are more toxic than others. The method used to assess this can be applied to other foods to determine their toxicity as well.

    According to the latest European research, pure oats are safe for most people with celiac disease, and contamination is the main problem facing people with celiac disease who wish to eat oats.

    According to the results of a recent study, adults with diet-treated celiac disease show no elevation in anti-avenin IgA by oats, supporting the notion that most adult celiac disease patients can tolerate oats.

    There still isn’t any official definitive evidence one-way or the other as to just how safe oats are for folks on a gluten-free diet, though there are more studies of this nature being undertaken, and data collection and genetic mapping and testing help us to build a better picture. 05/30/2007 - The results of a study recently published in the Scandinavian Journal of G

    Thompson T. NEJM. 2004;351:2021-2022 (Nov. 4, 2004, Number 19) 11/09/2004 - While oats 10/28/2004 – The obvious problem with this study is that it is so small—onl

    Gut 2003;52:1649-1652 11/05/2003 - A study conducted by Norwegian researchers has foun

    Scand J Gastroenterol. 2003 Jul;38(7):742-6 08/25/2003 – A recent study publishe 3/14/2003 - After conducting an extensive review of the medical literature concerning t

    European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2003) 57, 163-169. doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601525 S Størsru

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