When talking about Gluten and Gluten free foods, an autoimmune disorder called celiac disease is frequently linked to this. Those who are affected with the said disease adhere to lifelong gluten free diet in order to get rid of the disturbing symptoms associated with this problem. One type of food that is always present in the diet of celiacs is oatmeal. Does oatmeal have gluten? And is it safe for those with celiac disease
What are Gluten?
Gluten is a type of protein that is commonly found in wheat, rye and barley. It is a common component of most types of cereals and bread. However, it can be said that not all foods that came from the grain family have gluten. Some of the grains that do not have gluten are corn, wild rice, buckwheat, amaranth, millet, oats, teff, soybeans and sunflower seeds.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), foods tagged as “gluten free” still have some amount of gluten in them but in lower concentration. This is like those products that are tagged as “0 calories” but actually contains 4 or less calories. The FDA and the current international Codex Alimentarius standard allow 20 ppm of gluten in foods labeled as “gluten free”. Gluten free foods and products are usually hard to find and comes in an expensive price tag thus some coeliacs find it more economical to cook from scratch.
Aside from being a good source of protein, gluten has the capability to make bread elastic. It gives the bread a chewy texture when eaten. If most of the gluten in the four is removed, it produces a sticky dough that is similar to chewing gums. Gluten also traps the gasses that are released during fermentation of the dough thus allowing the bread to rise up before it is baked. The shape of the bread is maintained with the help of gluten and starch. On the downside, gluten is partly responsible why bread become stale.
People who suffer with celiac disease should be very cautious in eating foods rich in gluten as it triggers autoimmune response that attacks their gut and causes symptoms which can be very fatal.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine which affects genetically predisposed people of all ages. It is diagnosed in infancy through newborn screening. In the United States, this disease affects 1 in 105 Americans. Other names of celiac disease are celiac disease, non tropical sprue, gluten enetropathy or gluten intolerance.
When a person with celiac disease is exposed to gluten, the immune system reacts with the small-bowel tissues causing inflammatory reactions which can lead to villous atrophy. The intestinal villi are primarily responsible in absorbing nutrients from the foods eaten and when they atrophy, they could not absorb the nutrients thus causing malnutrition.
Symptoms associated with celiac disease are as follows:
• Pale loose and greasy stools called steatorrhoea
• Weight loss or failure to thrive in children
• Pale, voluminous and malodorous diarrhea
• Abdominal pain and cramping
• Anemia due to poor iron absorption
• Osteoporosis or osteopenia due to poor calcium absorption
• Poor formation of blood clots due to poor vitamin K absorption
Celiac disease can increase the risk of adenocarcinoma or cancer of the small intestine and lymphoma of the small bowel which is also known as enteropathy-associated T-cell lymphoma or EATL. If left untreated, complications such as ulcerative jejunitis (ulcer in the small bowel) and structuring can occur (narrowing of the bowel because of scar formation).
Early diagnosis and management can best deal with symptoms and complications associated with celiac disease. Diagnosis of celiac disease includes serum screening which detects IgA antibodies. Its presence highly indicates celiac disease with sensitivity of 90% and specificity of 99%. Endoscopy with biopsy can also be done to see the inside of the gastrointestinal tract and so as the quality of the tissues surrounding it. Celiac disease is often misdiagnosed because of its similarity with other disease like IBS or irritable bowel syndrome.
There are no medications that can prevent the immune system from attacking the small bowel during gluten exposure. The known management for celiac disease is to strictly adhere to gluten free diet. Keeping off gluten in the diet prevents damages to the small bowel and allows it to heal. If the diet is maintained for three months, the small bowel can recover fully from the damage it incurred from gluten exposure.
Does Oatmeal contain Gluten?
Some Foods to avoid are pastas, bread and cereals. Processed foods like soy sauce, ketchup and canned soups should also be avoided. It is a lot safer to read the product’s label before buying it. Oatmeal does not contain gluten and can be safe for people with celiac disease. However, precautions should be made since there are manufacturers of oatmeal who process their “gluten free” oats on the same machine as with the traditional oats thus cross contamination can occur. Catholic sufferers should also be cautious when taking wafers during religious ceremonies because one main ingredient in making the wafer is wheat which contains gluten.
People who do not experience improvement with “gluten free diet” is said to have refractory disease. This is because they have experienced the disease for so long that the intestines could not heal on its own. In this type of scenario, physicians may prescribe immunosuppresants or steroids in order to prevent the immune system to attack the small bowel.