The role of oats in a gluten-free diet – has the evidence changed?
Although the addition of oats to a gluten-free diet has nutritional benefits and may introduce more variety in the diet, evidence for their use remains controversial. The main protein type in oats is different to the gluten found in wheat and other cereals, however, oats do contain smaller amounts of avenin, a protein which is similar to gluten.
Recent evidence suggests that a subgroup of people with coeliac disease are intolerant to pure oats and also that the amount of avenin and the degree to which an immune response is triggered varies between different cultivars of oats. This new research may help explain why earlier research into the safety of oats in people with coeliac disease has had contradictory results. Most studies have also differed in the type and purity of the oats used and in study size and design.
Contamination of oats and oat-containing products with gluten continues to be a problem for researchers and also for people who choose to include oats in their diet. Contamination may occur during planting, harvesting, transport and processing of oats. Many countries are now working to improve agricultural techniques and industrial processes so that an uncontaminated supply of oats and oat products are available.
Current advice in New Zealand (July 2010) recommends that the consumption of oats and oat containing products should be avoided by people with coeliac disease.
“The safety of oats in individuals with coeliac disease has been extensively investigated. Some people with coeliac disease exhibit toxicity to oats. The Clinical Advisory Committee of the Coeliac Research Fund recommends that in Australia and New Zealand, oats should be excluded from a gluten free diet for people with coeliac disease.”’
Best Practice Advocacy Centre of NZ, 2011.
So what that boils down to is that at the moment, Oats are pretty much a no-go for people with Coeliac disease – even if you buy the really fucking expensive ones from the health food store that have been imported from ‘Murica and are plastered with ‘gluten free’ all over them. Because of the Avenin.
Which means that people with coeliacs and people baking for people with coeliacs need to think outside the box for chewy, tasty recipe fillers. I have a good brown rice porridge recipe that I use (and have posted before) and I know that some folks use both quinoa flakes and rice flakes in baking. I have not tried these but have them on my (long) list of things to do in the near future.
To sum up; People with Coeliac disease can’t eat Wheat, Rye, Barley or OATS.
And I miss porridge.