By Taylor Jones, RD
Oats are a highly nutritious grain with many health benefits.
They're a popular breakfast porridge and are also found in granola, muesli, and other foods and snacks.
However, you may wonder whether oats and oatmeal contain gluten.
This article explores whether you can include oats in a gluten-free diet.
What’s the Problem With Gluten?
Gluten-free diets are very popular.
In fact, surveys reveal that as many as 15–30% of people in the United States try to avoid gluten for one reason or another.
Gluten is a family of proteins found in grains, such as wheat, rye, and barley. These proteins give bread and pasta their stretchy, chewy texture (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).
Most people can eat gluten without any side effects, but these proteins can cause serious health problems for some individuals.
Gluten may cause digestive issues in certain populations because its unique amino acid structure may hinder the digestive enzymes in your gut (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).
If you have celiac disease, your body launches an autoimmune response to gluten, damaging your intestinal lining (5Trusted Source).
If you're intolerant to gluten, even a tiny amount is harmful, making a gluten-free diet the only way to avoid serious health issues (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).
Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. Most people can tolerate it, but it can harm some individuals.
Are Oats Gluten-Free?
Pure oats are gluten-free and safe for most people with gluten intolerance.
However, oats are often contaminated with gluten because they may be processed in the same facilities as gluten-containing grains like wheat, rye, and barley.
Studies show that most people with celiac disease or wheat allergy can eat 2–3.5 ounces (50–100 grams) of pure oats per day without adverse effects (9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source).
Additionally, some countries recommend including oats in a gluten-free diet. A few studies note that people with celiac disease living in these countries had better intestinal healing than people in countries that did not (10Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).
Pure, uncontaminated oats are also safe for people who have a wheat allergy.
Most people who are intolerant to gluten, including those with celiac disease, can safely eat pure oats.
Oats Are Often Contaminated With Gluten
Although oats themselves don't contain gluten, they're often grown alongside other crops.
The same equipment is typically used to harvest crops in neighboring fields, which leads to cross-contamination if one of those crops contains gluten.
The sowing seed may also be impure, harboring a small amount of wheat, rye, or barley seeds.
Additionally, products made with oats are usually processed, prepared, and packaged in the same facilities as gluten-containing products.
One study in 109 oat-containing products on the market in North America and Europe found that the products contained over 200 parts per million (ppm) of gluten, on average (16Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source).
Just 20 ppm of gluten may be enough to cause a reaction in someone with celiac disease (16Trusted Source).
This high risk of contamination means that it's unsafe to include conventionally grown oats in a strict gluten-free diet.
Notably, a number of companies have begun to process oats with clean equipment and grow them in fields designated gluten-free. These oats can be marketed as gluten-free and must contain less than 20 ppm of gluten (20).
Still, even gluten-free labels may not be completely reliable. One study discovered that gluten levels exceeded safety limits in 5% of products labeled gluten-free.
Oats are often contaminated with gluten during harvesting or processing, but many companies now sell uncontaminated products.
Other Potential Oat Downsides
A very small number of people with celiac disease (and possibly other conditions) may still be unable to tolerate pure, uncontaminated oats.
Pure oats contain avenin, a protein that may cause problems because it has a similar amino-acid structure as gluten.
One study discovered that most people with celiac disease had the potential to react to avenin. However, only 8% of the participants had an actual response after eating a large amount of oats (24Trusted Source).
In those cases, the responses were small and did not cause clinical symptoms or relapse. Therefore, the researchers concluded that people with celiac disease could still eat up to 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of pure oats per day (24Trusted Source).
Additionally, two other small studies found that some people with celiac disease experienced a small immune response and more intestinal symptoms while eating oats than those on a traditional gluten-free diet (25Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source).
Oats contain a protein called avenin. A small percentage of people with celiac disease react to avenin and may not be able to tolerate pure oats.
Oats Have Many Health Benefits
Gluten-free diets often have few food choices, especially in terms of grains and starchy foods.
Including oats and oatmeal can add much-needed variety.
What's more, several studies show that following a gluten-free diet may result in an inadequate intake of fiber, B vitamins, folate, and minerals like iron, magnesium, selenium, manganese, and zinc (10Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source).
Oats happen to be a good source of all of these vitamins and minerals. They're also a fantastic source of fiber.
Additionally, oats provide several impressive health benefits:
- Heart health. Oats can help improve risk factors for heart disease by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol and raising HDL (good) cholesterol (30Trusted Source).
- Weight loss. Oats and oatmeal can aid weight loss by helping control appetite and increase fullness (31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source, 33Trusted Source).
- Diabetes control. Oats can help improve blood sugar control, blood fat levels, and insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes (34Trusted Source).
Oats are a good source of many nutrients that are lacking in a gluten-free diet. They can also add variety and provide several health benefits.
The Bottom Line
Oats are used in many gluten-free products, and oat flour is popular in gluten-free baking. Oatmeal is also a breakfast favorite for many people.
While there are many benefits to including oats in your gluten-free diet, it's important to buy only products that are labeled or certified as gluten-free. This ensures that the oats are pure and uncontaminated.
In the United States and Europe, products certified gluten-free are required to have fewer than 20 ppm of gluten, an amount so low that foods with less than this amount are generally considered safe (20).
These days, it's easy to buy pure oats in many grocery stores and online.
The decision to include oats should be made on an individual basis.
Since it's not possible to know whether you'll react to avenin, you might want to consult your medical practitioner before adding oats to a gluten-free diet.
However, the vast majority of people can safely enjoy oats and all of the delicious foods made with them.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Alyssa Murdoch, Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle and Sapna Sharma
Summer has finally arrived in the northern reaches of Canada and Alaska, liberating hundreds of thousands of northern stream fish from their wintering habitats.
A Good News Story?<p>On the surface, the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/fwb.13569" target="_blank">results from our study</a> appear to provide a "good news" story. Warming temperatures were linked to higher numbers of fish, more species overall and, therefore, potentially more fishing opportunities for northerners.</p><p>Initially, we were surprised to learn that warming was increasing the distribution of cold-adapted fish. We reasoned that modest amounts of warming could lead to benefits such as increased food and winter habitat availability without reaching stressful levels for many species.</p>
Photo of Arctic grayling (left) and Dolly Varden trout (right). Alyssa Murdoch / Lilian Tran / Nunavik Research Centre and Tracey Loewen / Fisheries and Oceans Canada<p>Yet, not all fish species fared equally well. Ecologically unique northern species — those that have evolved in colder, more nutrient-poor environments, such as Arctic grayling and Dolly Varden trout — were showing declines with warming.</p>
Fish Strandings and Buried Eggs<p>Recent news headlines run the gamut for Pacific salmon — from their increased escapades <a href="https://nunatsiaq.com/stories/article/more-pacific-salmon-showing-up-in-western-arctic-waters/" target="_blank">into the Arctic</a> to <a href="https://www.juneauempire.com/news/warm-waters-across-alaska-cause-salmon-die-offs/" target="_blank">massive pre-spawning die-offs</a> in central Alaska. Similarly, results from our study revealed different outcomes for fish depending on local climatic conditions, including Pacific salmon.</p><p>We found that warmer spring and fall temperatures may be helping juvenile salmon by providing a longer and more plentiful growing season, and by supporting early egg development in northern regions that were previously too cold for survival.</p><p>In contrast, salmon declined in regions that were experiencing wetter fall conditions, pointing to an increased risk of flooding and sedimentation that could bury or dislodge incubating eggs.</p>
Headwaters of the Wind River within the largely intact Peel River watershed in northern Canada. Don Reid / Wildlife Conservation Society Canada / Author provided<p>Interestingly, we found that certain climatic combinations, such as warmer summer water temperatures with decreased summer rainfall, were important in determining where Pacific salmon could survive. Summer warming in drier watersheds led to declines, suggesting that lowered streamflows may have increased the risk of fish becoming stranded in subpar habitats that were too warm and crowded.</p>
The Fate of Northern Fisheries<p>The promise of a warmer and more accessible Arctic has attracted mounting interest in new economic opportunities, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2019.103637" target="_blank">including fisheries</a>. As warming rates at higher latitudes are already <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/" target="_blank">two to three times global levels</a>, it seems probable that northern biodiversity will experience dramatic shifts in the coming decades.</p><p>Despite the many unknowns surrounding the future of Pacific salmon, many fisheries are currently <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/03632415.2017.1374251" target="_blank">thriving following warmer and more productive northern oceans</a>, and some <a href="https://doi.org/10.14430/arctic68876" target="_blank">Arctic Indigenous communities are developing new salmon fisheries</a>.</p><p>As warming continues, the commercial salmon fishing industry is poised to expand northwards, but its success will largely depend on extenuating factors such as <a href="https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060023067" target="_blank">changes to marine habitat and food sources</a> and <a href="https://www.yukon-news.com/news/promising-chinook-salmon-run-failed-to-materialize-in-the-yukon-river-panel-hears/" target="_blank">how many fish are caught during the freshwater stages of their journey</a>.</p><p>Even with the potential for increased northern biodiversity, it is important to recognize that some northern communities may be unable to adapt or may <a href="https://thenarwhal.ca/searching-for-the-yukon-rivers-missing-chinook/" target="_blank">lose individual species that are associated with important cultural values</a>.</p>
- New England Fishing Communities Being Destroyed by 'Climate ... ›
- Shrimp Fishing Banned in Gulf of Maine Due to Ocean Warming ... ›
- Atlantic Salmon Is All But Extinct as a Genetically Eroded Version of ... ›
A heat wave that set in over the South and Southwest left much of the U.S. blanketed in record-breaking triple digit temperatures over the weekend. The widespread and intense heat wave will last for weeks, making the magnitude and duration of its heat impressive, according to The Washington Post.
- Hot Weather and COVID-19: Added Threats of Reopening States in ... ›
- 50 Million Americans Are Currently Living Under Some Type of Heat ... ›
- Second Major Heat Wave This Summer Smashes Records Across ... ›
By Joni Sweet
If you get a call from a number you don't recognize, don't hit decline — it might be a contact tracer calling to let you know that someone you've been near has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Interviews With Contact Tracers<p>Contact tracing is a public health strategy that involves identifying everyone who may have been in contact with a person who has the coronavirus. Contact tracers collect information and provide guidance to help contain the transmission of disease.</p><p>It's been used during outbreaks of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), Ebola, measles, and now the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.</p><p>It starts when the local department of health gets a report of a confirmed case of the coronavirus in its community and gives that person a call. The contact tracer usually provides information on how to isolate and when to get treatment, then tries to figure out who else the person may have exposed.</p><p>"We ask who they've been in contact with in the 48 hours prior to symptom onset, or 2 days before the date of their positive test if they don't have symptoms," said <a href="https://case.edu/medicine/healthintegration/people/heidi-gullett" target="_blank">Dr. Heidi Gullett</a>, associate director of the Center for Community Health Integration at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and medical director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Health in Ohio.</p>
“You’ve Been Exposed”<p>After the case interview, contact tracers will get to work calling the folks who may have been exposed to the coronavirus by the person who tested positive.</p><p>"We give them recommendations about quarantining or isolating, getting tested, and what to do if they become sick. If they're not already sick, we still want them to self-quarantine so that they don't spread the disease to anyone else if they were to become sick," said Labus.</p><p>Generally, the contact tracer won't ask for additional contacts unless they happen to call someone who is sick or has a confirmed case of the virus. They will help ensure the contact has the resources they need to isolate themselves, if necessary. The contact tracer may continue to stay in touch with that person over the next 14 days.</p><p>"We follow the percentage of people that were contacts, then converted into being actual cases of the virus. It's an important marker to help us understand what kind of transmission happens in our community and how to control the virus," said Gullett.</p>
Why You Should Participate (and What Happens If You Don’t)<p>A <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(20)30457-6/fulltext" target="_blank">Lancet study</a> from June 16, which looked at data from more than 40,000 people, found that COVID-19 transmission could be reduced by 64 percent through isolating those who have the coronavirus, quarantining their household, and contacting the people they may have exposed.</p><p>The combination strategy was significantly more effective than mass random testing or just isolating the sick person and members of their household.</p><p>However, contact tracing is only as effective as people's willingness to participate, and a small number of people who've contracted the coronavirus or were potentially exposed are reluctant to talk.</p><p>"Contact tracers have all been hung up on, cussed at, yelled at," said Gullet.</p><p>The hesitation to talk to contact tracers often stems from concerns over privacy — a serious issue in healthcare.</p>
- Anti-Racism Protests Are Not Driving Coronavirus Spikes, Data ... ›
- Cell Phone Tracking Analysis Shows Where Florida Springbreakers ... ›
NASA scientists say that warmer than average surface sea temperatures in the North Atlantic raise the concern for a more active hurricane season, as well as for wildfires in the Amazon thousands of miles away, according to Newsweek.
By Andrea Germanos
Oxfam International warned Thursday that up to 12,000 people could die each day by the end of the year as a result of hunger linked to the coronavirus pandemic—a daily death toll surpassing the daily mortality rate from Covid-19 itself.
- These 6 Men Have as Much Wealth as Half the World's Population ... ›
- Climate Change Forces 20 Million People to Flee Each Year, Oxfam ... ›
By Jun N. Aguirre
An oil spill on July 3 threatens a mangrove forest on the Philippine island of Guimaras, an area only just recovering from the country's largest spill in 2006.
- 15,000 Gallon Oil Spill Threatens River and Drinking Water in Native ... ›
- Mysterious Oil Spill on Massachusetts' Charles River Spurs Major ... ›
- Disastrous Russian Oil Spill Reaches Pristine Arctic Lake - EcoWatch ›
- Scientist Behind Florida's Coronavirus Database Says She Was ... ›
- Younger People Now Driving Spikes in New Coronavirus Cases ... ›