Are Oats Gluten-Free?
This is a debate which has raged for a long time, I have seen research dating back to the 1950s on this! Due to the increased awareness on gluten, gluten intolerances and immune-mediated diseases affected by gluten (celiac disease) this debate has come firmly into the public realm. One google search for this question and you will find a divide of opinions, not all of them backed by evidence either. Adding to this confusion is many national guidelines and policy statements are also different. For example in New Zealand the position statement from Celiac NZ strongly recommends against oats for those with celiac disease (read their position statement here). Where as in the United Kingdom the Celiac UK website states that "gluten-free oats may be introduced to the diet at any stage, however, a small percentage of people with celiac disease are sensitive to gluten-free oats". I will get to gluten in a minute but I think the real question should be...
Are oats right for me?We all want a one size fits all approach to nutrition though this very rarely is the case. What is Gluten? I am going to talk a lot about the protein which is a storage protein in grains. But I want to just put some context around this storage protein first. All grains come from developing seeds which synthesise in harvest. They store protein reserves (within each tiny seed) which are used to provide nutrients for the young seedling during germination. Most of these storage proteins - belong to one of two classes:
- The water-soluble storage protein - the globulins
- Water-insoluble soluble storage protein - the prolamines.
- Wheat = gliadin
- Barley = hordeins
- Rye = secalins