Whilst there is no cure for Coeliac disease, a strict gluten free diet does allow it to be managed effectively and help prevent long term complications of this disease.
Whether oats can be consumed as part of a gluten free diet has been somewhat controversial as oats contain avenin, a protein that is distantly related to the protein in wheat. In the USA and Europe, oat containing products can be labelled as gluten free. The Australian Food Standards however, prohibits the use of the term gluten free for oat containing products, instead using the term, ‘wheat free’.
Many studies have confirmed that pure oats are safely tolerated by most with Coeliac disease however, for some people oats can potentially trigger a harmful immune response. It is for this reason that in Australia, the current recommendation is that oats not be included as part of a gluten free diet for Coeliac disease management.
For those with Coeliac disease wishing to reintroduce oats into their diet, they should do so under medical supervision. The absence of symptoms or negative coeliac serology does not necessarily indicate they are safe, as damage to the small bowel can occur without symptoms or the presence of coeliac antibodies. Having a gastroscopy and small bowel biopsies before and after a prolonged oat challenge e.g. 3 months of regular uncontaminated ‘wheat free’ oat consumption, can be useful to guide whether an individual with coeliac disease is able to consume oats safely.