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Celiac disease linked to oat toxicity

Lana Bandoim's picture

People with celiac disease have frequently complained about having reactions to oats despite the lack of gluten in this grain. Although cross-contamination with the protein is often blamed for problems, a new study reveals that people with celiac disease are having an immune response to oats without gluten contamination. Researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute found specific oat proteins are causing the reaction.


Oats are considered gluten-free, yet many people who are sensitive to gluten or have celiac disease cannot tolerate them. Some patients react to oats the same way they react to gluten. Now, researchers believe they may have found the reasons for the reactions. Oats have avenins, which are storage proteins, and it appears they are causing an immune response in people who suffer from celiac disease.

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Researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute discovered that 8 percent of the people in the study who had celiac disease also had a reaction to oats. They believe specific portions of the avenin proteins are causing these reactions that resemble how the body responds to barley. Barley has gluten, so this grain is removed from the gluten-free diet. However, researchers point out that some people with celiac disease are able to consume oats without problems.

Oats have often been linked to gluten cross-contamination issues because of the distribution process, so patients who felt sick after eating them tended to blame the farmers and brands. Now, new research reveals that gluten is not the only culprit, and oat avenins can be just as dangerous for celiac disease patients. If you are concerned about oats or other parts of your diet, it is important to speak to your doctor and consider other options. Oats are not the only gluten-free grains that can be included in a celiac’s diet.

Read more about celiac disease:
Celiac disease tips for handling gluten on Thanksgiving
Gluten-free gravy shopping and cooking tips for celiac disease
Gluten-free pie ideas for the holidays safe for celiac disease