The Great Oat Debate!

From my December 2014 Newsletter;

For many years there has been controversy over Oats and a gluten-free diet. Many customers ask me why I don’t allow oats in my facility. The first reason is that all oats are not created equally. Oats are often contaminated with gluten during processing, therefore; if you want to eat oats, they have to be certified GF Oats.  The second reason is because many Celiacs react to oats, even certified GF Oats and I am one of them.

The best explanation I have seen about this controversy was from Children’s National Medical Center’s Celiac Newsletter and answered by Dr. John Snyder, Chief, Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC.

Question: My child has been recently diagnosed with celiac disease. I don’t understand why she cannot continue to eat her favorite oatmeal cereal for breakfast. Isn’t it okay to make it with certified gluten-free oats?

Answer: Oats comprise a different tribe of the grass family (aveneae) than wheat, rye, and barley (hordeae), so they do not contain gluten; however, there a couple of reasons that we recommend that people with celiac disease stop eating oats when they start a gluten-free diet. The first is that it is difficult to get truly gluten-free oats, since they are often transported or stored in containers that also transport wheat and other grains. In addition, there is a protein in oats called avenin, which is somewhat similar to the gluten found in barley, wheat, and rye. There are a small percentage of people with celiac disease that also are sensitive to oats. For these reasons, the current recommendation for all people newly diagnosed with celiac disease is to stop eating oats until it can be clearly demonstrated that their celiac disease is under control. After that, working closely with a physician, registered dietitian, or another qualified healthcare professional well-versed in celiac disease, certified gluten-free oats can gradually be added to the diet, as long as the person remains symptom-free.

–John Snyder, MD, Chief, Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition; Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, DC.

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