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Are Oats Really Gluten-Free?


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Often,  those who wish, by preference or necessity, to avoid wheat products seek out alternative grains that are feasible as a replacement. Usually, this includes rice, corn, and oats. However, while raw whole oats themselves do not possess wheat proteins (and thus, gluten), they are bound to acquire gluten through cross-contamination during commercial food processing.

In addition to patients with Celiac disease, gluten can pose problems for those with diabetes, Hashimoto’s and other forms of hyperthyroidism, and to those with a general intolerance.

Oats are not the only naturally wheat-free food to acquire gluten. Rice, corn, cocoa, and even coffee can obtain wheat allergens through contact with other foods. Again, this usually occurs during commercial processing, as the equipment caters to multiple items. So it may be wise to get specific items like coffee from companies who specialize in that only, such as a local roaster. It also wouldn’t hurt to check into whether an adhesive used in the packaging of a product contains gluten.

Because there are currently no accepted tests in measuring non-Celiac gluten intolerance, many people with a gluten intolerance are not aware of it. Additionally, it would takes several weeks of avoiding gluten in the diet to know for sure how you react to it. This includes going without foods that are either commonly cross-contaminated with gluten or have gluten-resembling cells. The later is a common instigator for reactions in autoimmune attacks, as with Hashimoto’s, wherein the body attacks the thyroid gland. The connection with gluten proteins being their resemblance to the thyroid gland. And because of this, foods with cells resembling gluten tend to induce the same response.

Oats can still be safe for consumption, as long as they are either in their whole, unprocessed form or were processed in a facility that is gluten-free. To be certain, though, you’ll want to make sure you get only the oats that are labeled ‘gluten-free’. Unless you are able to acquire fresh grown oats from a local farm, assuming they don’t share the field with any wheat crops. Furthermore, gluten-free products are becoming widely available, extending beyond health food stores and even the ‘health nut’ aisles of stores; instead perching on the shelves of major grocery chains and supermarkets. Though if you have the means, it is always better to invest in your local grocers and health food stores. Often, they’ll be more enlightened on gluten-free and other specialty items.

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