Allergies : Oats: Safe for Celiacs?

Can people with celiac disease safely eat oats? This has been an ongoing debate among researchers and individuals with celiac disease, or the autoimmune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.

Oats are a great source of nutrients that are often lacking in a gluten-free diet, including iron and fiber. However, some studies show the possibility of a protein similar in function to gluten in oats activating gluten-reactive T cells. On the other hand, there are also studies finding little risk of intestinal damage in people with celiac disease after being challenged with pure oats.

In a recent study, 73 people with celiac disease were given three kinds of store-bought oats. The sources of oats were tested to make sure they were gluten-free.

Researchers found that ingesting 100 grams of oats per day (about twice the suggested serving size) over three days was enough to activate T cells, but only in one of 12 patients.

"Overall, the study concludes that a normal amount of oats are not able to induce an immune response like wheat, barley, or rye can in the vast majority of CD patients," states the Celiac Disease Foundation. "It is possible that larger amounts of oats could more reliably induce an immune response; however, the 100 grams per day used in this experiment represents a ‘significant quantity.'"

If you have celiac disease, talk to your allergist about oats. Most allergists recommend waiting until gut inflammation has diminished or has been eliminated before introducing pure, gluten-free oats.
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