The Foodfacts.com Blog encountered an interesting article today indicating that some literature shows that children on the gluten free/casein free diet can apparently eat oats, though many potential problems still exist with most oat preparations, since they may be grown in fields that rotate with wheat. Such crops of oats may inadvertently contain wheat.
It is possible that oats grown without rotation in fields of gluten-containing grains would produce no adverse effects on autoantibody or intraepithelial lymphocyte levels in gluten sensitive patients, however very few oat products are grown this way.
The GFCF Diet Support Group states: “Less than 5% of the oats which are now grown commercially are for human consumption. The chief value of oats remains as a pasturage and hay crop, especially for horses. Oats are also used in crop rotation. The possibility of cross contamination is the issue here, rather than the glutenous type of protein which is not found in oats. However, oats are considered unacceptable by our standards.”
“Wheat, rye, and barley have harmful effects on the small intestinal mucosa of patients with celiac disease, whereas maize and rice are harmless,” wrote Dr. M. I. J. Uusitupa, from the University of Kuopio, and colleagues in the March 2000 issue of Gut.
His research team studied two groups of patients: 40 adults with newly diagnosed celiac disease and 52 adults whose celiac disease was in remission. Patients in both groups were randomized to a conventional gluten-free diet or a gluten-free diet containing oats, and were monitored for autoantibodies and intraepithelial lymphocytes over a 6- or 12-month period.
The rate of disappearance of antireticulin antibodies, antigliadin antibodies, and intraepithelial lymphocytes were similar, regardless of diet, among patients newly diagnosed with celiac disease. Similarly, antibody and intraepithelial lymphocyte levels were similar among patients whose celiac disease was in remission.
The authors wrote, “These results strengthen the view that adult patients with celiac disease can consume moderate amounts of oats without adverse immunological effects.” However, in light of the fact that most available oat products are likely to be contaminated with other gluten grains, we urge that people err on the side of caution regarding including oats in a gluten-free diet, especially when there are better alternatives, such as rice products, available.