Oats have become a regular breakfast item in many households. With a variety of Indian flavours and options available in the market, oats are no longer considered a ‘western’ food.
Do oats contain gluten? Can oats be eaten by celiac disease patients or those who have gluten sensitivity?
Oats do not contain gluten. Gluten, a plant protein, is found in wheat, rye and barley. Oats sometimes get contaminated with gluten if they are cultivated near gluten-containing crops. That’s why, oats are in the ‘avoid’ list for those who cannot tolerate gluten.
Oats are best avoided by those who have celiac disease. But if you are sensitive to gluten without celiac disease, you could try oats in small quantities to begin with.
Oats are rich in soluble fibre, manganese, phosphorus and magnesium. Include oats in your meal plan at least once a week, to add variety and nutrition.
Is there a difference between the two conditions? Yes. It can be difficult to determine whether one has an intolerance or an allergy because the signs and symptoms overlap.
A simple explanation of the two conditions –
Food allergy = immune system reaction to food
Food intolerance = inability to digest a food
Food allergy symptoms show up immediately whereas an intolerance may or may not manifest soon after ingesting the food. In food allergy, the reaction can occur with smallest quantities but in food intolerance, the person is able to tolerate the food in small amounts or over a period of time. Food allergy can be life-threatening sometimes but not food intolerance. A physician or an allergy specialist will be able to diagnose the problem.
Nuts, dairy, egg and fish are the most common food allergens. Common food intolerance list includes wheat, gluten, milk, yeast, food additives and preservatives.
Symptoms of food allergy can vary from dizziness, swelling of lips and throat, itchy skin and red eyes, to nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, wheezing, shortness of breath, or blocked nose. Food intolerance can show up as bloating, stomach discomfort, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, wheezing, hives or runny nose.
If you’re aware of the problem that you have, check labels when you buy packaged foods. The best way to prevent such problems from occurring is to avoid the foods that cause these problems. Maintaining a diary of the foods that you eat can help to trace the allergen or the food that causes the problem.
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A friend of mine sent me an email about an article published by a US writer about how 4 foods accelerate aging. The 4 foods named in this article are wheat, corn, sugar and vegetable oils (like soybean, canola, etc). How factual is this information?
Wheat and corn do not accelerate aging, for sure. On the contrary, they provide us with nutrients that are essential for good health. Although gluten-free foods are becoming a rage in the West, the only persons who need to avoid wheat are those who are allergic or intolerant to wheat and its products. Perhaps gluten can be a topic for another discussion!
Sugar and oils accelerate aging only if taken in large quantities and / or replace healthy foods. Sugar consumption has gone up in urban India by large amounts. Sugar robs the body of some important nutrients which can be replaced only by eating healthy foods. In that sense, sugar can be a villain. Also, extra oil intake (especially the high PUFA ones) can tilt the fatty acid balance in the body and accelerate free radical damage. In that sense, some of the vegetable oils can be seen as villains.
The bottom line is reduce sugar and fat consumption, and there’s no need to avoid wheat and corn if you are not allergic to them.
During one of my consultations, I learnt that gluten-free breads are baked and sold in Bangalore. I spoke to the owner of this bakery, Ms Shweta Muthanna and she said that she has been making gluten-free, lactose-free breads for a couple of years now. She also prepares cakes, buns and cookies that are gluten-free. Her products are made-to-order as of now and she plans to open a sales outlet later this year.
With the number of gluten-intolerant persons growing in Bangalore, this would be useful for your friends / family, if not for you. If you’re interested in gluten-free breads, call Shweta on +91 9845869109.