Oats benefit those with celiac disease

By Van Waffle

Summary: Although oats are considered safe for people with celiac disease, few studies have investigated the impact of long-term consumption. Some people with celiac disease do not tolerate oats, and the protein structures bear similarities to wheat gluten. Consequently, questions have been raised about recommending oats for those on the gluten-free diet.

This study looked at 106 long-term treated adult patients in Finland, where oats have been allowed on the gluten-free diet since 1997. From each patient, investigators collected dietary histories, small-bowel tissue samples, self-reported symptoms and blood samples to assess their digestive health. While 70 of the patients included oats in their diet, 36 did not. The vast majority (97 percent) of these patients who had undergone long-term treatment had healthy bowels. However, those who consumed more oats or had consumed them longer showed no negative impact. In fact, they had a higher daily fiber intake, had healthier bowel lining, and were less likely to complain of indigestion.

Conclusion: While some adults with celiac disease who begin consuming oats may experience initial discomfort, this may be explained by an increase in fiber intake. In most cases the symptoms will disappear over time. While there is evidence some people may be oat-intolerant, in the vast majority of cases long-term consumption of oats is safe for people with celiac disease. Oats provide a valuable source of dietary fiber that supports a healthier gut lining. While all the oat consumers in this study used ordinary grocery store oats, the researchers point to the concern that most products commercially available in the United States and Europe contain high levels of wheat gluten contamination, 200 to 8,000 ppm. It is better to be on the safe side, they say, and use specialty gluten-free oat products, now widely available.


[1] “Long-term consumption of oats in adult celiac disease patients”, Kaukinen K, Collin P, Huhtala H, Mäki M, #Nutrients#, 2013 Nov 6; 5(11): 4380-4389.

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