A question I am often asked is are oats gluten free? Well the not-so-straightforward answer is it depends!
Confused? Hopefully you won’t be after you have read this simple summary.
So are oats gluten free? Firstly, we need to clarify whether you have Coeliac Disease (i.e. a true allergy to gluten) or if you are gluten intolerant (i.e. you avoid wheat, rye and barley products for symptom relief of problems such as bloating, diarrhoea, etc.)
It is thought that completely pure, uncontaminated oats would be unlikely to trigger a reaction for most people with Coeliac Disease BUT (and this is a big but) during processing most oats and oat products on the market will be contaminated with gluten from wheat, rye or barley. The amount may be tiny but for someone with an allergy (which Coeliac Disease is) even a minute amount of gluten can cause bowel damage and increased risk of health problems, even if symptoms are not obvious.
VERDICT: Avoid oats unless advised otherwise by a doctor / specialist
If you don’t tolerate gluten in the diet but you do not have coeliac disease oats should be absolutely fine to include in your diet and can actually help with irritable bowel symptoms. Oats contain soluble fibre, which helps to soften stools and may ease bowel symptoms, whereas insoluble fibre (e.g bran, wheat) can be an irritant for some people.
VERDICT: Oats are beneficial and should be included in the diet
I hope this answers the question of are oats gluten free?