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Silent Celiac Disease and Certified Gluten-Free Oats

January 17, 2012

Silent Celiac Disease and Certified Gluten-Free Oats

January 17, 2012


I have the “silent” version of celiac disease. I never had pain from eating gluten. I am told that oats are OK to eat as long as they are uncontaminated. However, eating the uncontaminated oats gives me gas that was typical of my “symptoms” before my celiac diagnosis. How do I know if oats are OK for me to eat?




Hi Leslie. Great question! I’m assuming that your “uncontaminated” gluten-free oats are certified gluten-free? If yes, then you may be in the small percentage of people who are sensitive to oats, whether certified to be gluten-free or not.

If this is the case, the likely culprit causing your symptoms is avenin, a protein in oats that acts similar to wheat, rye, and barley in people with celiac disease. Indeed, it is estimated that 1 in 5 persons with celiac disease will also have a reaction to oats.

Because of this, the current recommendation for all persons newly diagnosed with celiac disease is to stop eating oats until it can be clearly demonstrated that their celiac disease is under control. After that, and under the guidance of a physician, registered dietitian or another qualified healthcare professional well-versed in celiac disease, certified gluten-free oats can gradually be added to the diet (up to 50 grams per day), as long as the patient remains symptom free.

In your case, it would be advisable to eliminate all oats from your diet for the time being, then follow up with your physician when you have resolution from your symptoms. At that point, your doctor may advise whether or not you can start a controlled trial of gluten-free oats.

Speaking as someone who adores her gluten-free oatmeal, I understand this may be difficult, especially if you are used to consuming a lot of oats. The good news, however, is that there are so many wonderful gluten-free cereal grains you can still enjoy!

A few of my favorite gluten-free breakfast options include:

  • Warm brown rice topped with cinnamon, milk, fresh apples, and walnuts
  • Hot polenta topped with ricotta cheese, fresh chunks of orange, and pecans
  • Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal topped with vanilla soy or almond milk, sliced bananas, fresh berries, and cinnamon

In good health,

EA Stewart, MBA, RD


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