Gluten-free oats – are they really gluten free? This is a grey area at present. Do not eat oats if you are on a gluten free diet until you have read this article.
Traditionally, the gluten free diet means avoiding wheat, barely, rye and oats. But there is controversy over the oats.
Gluten Free Oats – The Basis
Some feel that the problem with oats is that they get contaminated when wheat has slipped into the seeds used to sow the oat fields.
If this is true, then you can have gluten-free oats if you can guarantee that the oat field has not been contaminated by wheat, barley or rye seeds. This is the basis for which manufacturers claim to produce ‘gluten free oats’.
Disputing Gluten Free Oats
However, like all grains, oats do contain gluten. The gluten has a somewhat different structure from the gluten found in wheat. The ‘oats-are-gluten-free’ contingent believes that this gluten is sufficiently different in structure from wheat gluten as to be harmless to celiacs.
This may be true, but it may not be. It could be that this type of gluten can be tolerated by some celiacs but not others. It could be that more of this type of gluten can be tolerated by celiacs than wheat gluten, but that there is still a limit.
Personally, I’m not convinced and I would like to see more research that is definitive about this issue.
Gluten Allergy and Oats
Putting aside the debate about oat gluten and celiac, how about oat gluten and gluten allergy.
Gluten allergy is different from celiac, and there is more possibility for variation from one person to the other.
If you have a gluten allergy, you should be aware that oat gluten may be a problem, and then either avoid it if you have a low risk tolerance, or test how you feel when you eat oats vs. when you don’t, and let that decide.
Not that in the case of celiacs, it is not possible to decide on your gluten exposure tolerance, since you may feel fine but be damaging your organs and increasing your risk of cancer over time with even a small exposure to gluten.
At this point, I can not recommend oats to anyone with celiac disease. If you have a gluten allergy, it is up to you to decide how sensitive you are to oat gluten, if at all.
Do you have a gluten allergy or are you celiac? How do you feel about gluten free oats? Do you eat them or avoid them? Please leave a comment.