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Does oatmeal have gluten?

Updated on December 9, 2014

Oatmeal does not have wheat and hence by itself oatmeal does not have gluten.

Historically oats were not included in a ‘gluten free diet’ which forms a part of treatment for celiac disease. It was thought that oats trigger toxic reactions in the gastrointestinal system that were similar to those caused by wheat, barley and rye. However, recent studies have revealed that oats consumption is safe for most adults and children with celiac disease. It is also important to note that not all oatmeal is free from gluten. It can get adulterated while processing, especially in facilities that also process rye, barley, wheat and other gluten-rich grains.

Gluten in oatmeal:Recent research

One of the studies printed on the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology revealed that the Immunoglobulin A levels did not rise alarmingly in subjects who consumed oats in a gluten free diet, as opposed to the other test group that did not consume oats. The experts thereby concluded that celiac disease patients can endure oats.

A different study that checked nine different types of oats however came to the conclusion that some types of oats can cause adverse reactions in celiac patients as compared to other varieties, irrespective of the place where they were processed.

Most of the recent research work made use of uncontaminated pure oats in the studies. The researchers eventually concluded that only a very small percentage of celiac patients cannot tolerate even pure oats. Study is still on to find out the cause of such intolerance.

In the year 2003, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics gave permission to celiac patients to consume oats. The academy however suggested that the quantity of oats intake on a daily basis should be limited to just half a cup of uncontaminated pure oats.

The current studies have prompted many celiac organizations and medical experts to permit celiac patients to consume moderate quantities of unadulterated pure oats as part of their gluten free diets. The professional advisory board of the Canadian Celiac Association has pronounced that adult patients can safely eat 50 to 70 grams of dry rolled oats daily, while affected children can intake 20 to 25 grams a day.

It may however be noted that most of the oat products commercially available in the market are usually adulterated with barley, wheat, and/or rye. The contamination may happen at the time of harvesting, warehousing, processing, transportation, milling and/or packaging.

How to find the right kind of oatmeal?

It is important for people with gluten sensitivity or intolerance to find oatmeal, oat flour and oats that are guaranteed by the manufacturers to be pure and devoid of any traces of gluten. Most major brands of oatmeal come with some level of contamination due to the reasons discussed above. Fortunately, there are some manufacturers and growers who provide gluten-free oatmeal. A few good choices are listed below:

  • Over 50 different gluten-free oat products are sold by Bob's Red Mill, including thick rolled oats, oat bran, rolled oats, quick-cook oats, and steel-cut oats.
  • GF Harvest, formerly known as Gluten-Free Oats, also sells numerous gluten-free products such as whole-kernel oats/oat groats, whole-grain oat flour, rolled oats and granola. They also offer organic gluten-free oat products.
  • Uncontaminated and pure oats are also offered by Cream Hill Estates. The company guarantees that their varied products, including groats, rolled oats and oat flour are gluten-free.
  • Gluten-free oatmeal in delicious cranberry and regular flavors are offered by Holly's Oatmeal. It is also possible to custom blend such flavored oats.
  • Other popular manufacturers that offer gluten free oatmeal include Montana Monster Munchies, Montana’s Gifts of Nature, Glutenfreeda Foods, Avena Foods and NoNuttin.

Important information

Oats are nutritious and a welcome addition to the otherwise bland gluten-free diets. However, it is best to consult a dietician or a doctor before adding pure, unadulterated oatmeal to your gluten-free diet. Follow the dose prescribed by your doctor and moderate the consumption of oats. Patients also need to make sure that their current condition, i.e., celiac disease, is well-controlled before commencing on a gluten-free oatmeal diet.

Always keep a lookout for any adverse changes in your health. In case of any health problems, seek immediate medical attention.

Oats are rich in fiber. Hence, after adding oats to the diet patients need to drink lots of water and other fluids. Also, you may experience some gastrointestinal problems like gas and bloating or changes in stool pattern in the initial stages. Once the body adjusts to the additional fiber, these abnormal symptoms will abate.

Follow the below listed guidelines when shopping for gluten-free oatmeal:

  • Do not order for oatmeal at restaurants as contamination is possible in the kitchen.
  • Avoid shopping from bulk bins as the same scoop may be used for other grains like wheat, etc.
  • Always check the label and verify if the product is marked ‘gluten-free.’

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