Dr. David Clark,DC -Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Functional Neurologist and Clinical Nutrition expert explains why Oats are a dangerous food if you have gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease.
The #4 Most dangerous food if you have gluten sensitivity, Celiac disease or following a gluten-free diet is Oats.
Before you say "Oh Crap!" and start typing in comments and questions let me explain. There are some nuances to that statement about oats.
This is part of a series based on updated information on the most dangerous foods for people that have gluten sensitivity, celiac disease or are following a gluten-free diet.
The problem with Oats is the phenomenon called "cross reaction."
Cross reaction occurs when the antibodies for one food (gluten in our example) attach to another food (oats in our example).
For clarity’s sake let’s make sure we all understand gluten sensitivity. Gluten sensitivity means you have an immune system reaction to gluten. Your immune system has targeted and continues to target gluten as invader that needs to be destroyed. Whether you use the term "gluten sensitive" or "celiac". It’s all basically the same thing--you have an immune system reaction, an inflammatory reaction to gluten.
Gluten antibodies are like little, flashing adhesive strobe lights. They’re designed to attach on to gluten. But, in cross reaction they can attach on to something else that’s not gluten --but it looks close enough to gluten that the antibodies can recognize the something else as gluten, and they try to kill it.
This is cross reaction. There’s a bunch of foods that can cross react
- Corn is #3.
- Brewer’s and baker’s yeast (saccharomyces cerevisiae) is #2.
- Milk products of all kinds are #1.
Number four is oats.
Now let me give you the fine details. This information comes from two places.
This information about corn and gluten comes from two places:
- a conference that I attended in October 2012
- a paper by Dr. Aristo Vojdani published in January 2013. Here's the link to that paper. It's like a Top 10 most dangerous foods List. You know, "stay away from these if you have a gluten problem."
Vojdani et al discovered that Oats "cross-react' with gluten antibodies.
They tested two kinds of oats:
- "Oat cultivar one"
- "Oat cultivar two"
They don't tell us the brand names of eaither (darn!), but one of those "cultivars" reacted very strongly against gluten antibodies. The other one did not.
The question is "What is in oats that allows cross reaction?"
Let me give you a little background...
It’s been known for a long time that commercially available oats in this country are commonly contaminated with gluten. Why? Because oats are often transported in the same trucks. They’re stored in the same silos. There's a significant amount of plain contamination.
Some oats are certified as "gluten-free"...meaning they’ve been tested and they’re supposed to be gluten-free. And they may, in fact, be free of gluten.
However, there is a protein in oats called "avenin" -- avenin is the problem. Avenin cross reacts with gluten antibodies.
But not all oats contain avenin.
It gets kind of confusing....oats don’t contain gluten the way that wheat does... but some kinds of oats do contain avenin, which can cross react. And that’s a bad situation if you're trying to avoid eating gluten.
How do you know which oats are safe?
I don’t know. I don't think a particular bran/manufacturer of oats could, or would, tell you if their oats contain avenin or not.
So what do you do about oats and cross reaction with gluten antibodies?
The first thing is--if you're about to start a gluten-free diet don’t make the mistake of eating oats right away (or other grains like corn, rice and millet).
That’s a big mistake a lot of people make because they go from eating gluten to immediately eating foods that are gluten alternatives, but these many of these foods are ALSO cross-reactors. So, to your immune system, you're really not eating gluten-free.
This is a story I often hear in my patients...
They start a gluten-free diet because they’ve got an autoimmune condition like Hashimoto’s, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Crohn's, Multiple Sclerosis-- or some kind of inflammatory problem. They start a gluten-free diet, but because they’re still eating these cross-reactive foods they don’t really get much improvement....or they plateau.
Cross reaction is a likely reason why they didn't get full benefit from the gluten-free diet.. Some Oats have this protein avenin that can cross-react with gluten antibodies.
Me personally, I can’t eat oats. Even certified gluten-free oats. I found out a fewl years ago I have a big problem with oats (along with corn and milk. See the connection?).
I have a couple of different autoimmune conditions myself, so for me this is absolutlely relevant. I'm passionate about this topic because it means so much to me and my family as well.
The take-away message is: oats are the number four most dangerous food for gluten sensitivity and celiac. So be careful.
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© 2013 David Clark. All Rights Reserved.
Dr. David Clark, DC
Functional Neurologist (FACFN)
Diplomate College of Clinical Nutrition
Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist
Vestibular Rehab Specialist (ACNB)
1515 W. NC Hwy 54 Ste 210
Durham, NC 27707
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