Sooo - the big question! Are Oats considered gluten free?
I hear this question a lot! And when I say a lot, it is discussed all the time. But to put it simple: Here in New Zealand oats are not considered gluten free.
WHY? I hear you ask.
Because oats contain avenin. Gluten is used to discribe a prolamin protein fraction which affects people with Coeliac disease. So basically gluten is a group of proteins; in wheat it is called gliadin, in barley it is called hordein and in rye it is called secalin and in oats it is called avenin.
So people suffering from Coelaic Disease are advised not to eat oats as the avenin can affect your stomach lining the same way as the gliadin from wheat does. You can do an oat challenge to see if you can tolerate oats, but this needs to be discussed with your health professional as you need to do two biopsies - one prior before you start the trial and one after consuming oats for a period of time.
If you are sensitive to gluten, then you may be ok with eating wheat free oats as you do not get the damage as people with CD do.
So what are wheat free oats?
Wheat free oats are harvested differently to stop any cross contamination with wheat or rye. So if you have a wheat allergy, you are ok to consume wheat free oats.
But why are the rules different here than everywhere else?
Scientific research shows that 1 in 5 people react badly to oats. New Zealand and Australia have made the decission to protect everyone by declaring oats not gluten free. The rest of the world are slowly considering this but in the meantime they leave it up to the individual to make the decission. As the gluten free diet is self managed, a lot of people risk their health by eating oats as they struggle to give up such a highly nourishing grain.