- Food allergies and intolerances
What is gluten?
What is gluten?
Gluten is found in rye, oats, wheat, barley, kamut and spelt.
Gluten is a combination of proteins (mainly prolamins (gliadin and avenin) and glutenins) that allow the dough to rise. Without gluten, a flour cannot be transformed into bread. This is the case for corn, buckwheat, rice or chestnut flours, which are often combined with wheat flours to make these specific breads.
Some people have a gluten intolerance called celiac disease. Gluten causes a reaction that destroys the lining of their small intestine. They must adopt a strict gluten-free diet. Others are only sensitive to it but notice an improvement in their quality of life by excluding this protein from their diet. When gluten consumption is stopped, the intestine heals.
Particular case of oats
The protein in oats is not gliadin but avenin. The composition of gliadin and avenin is relatively similar. For a long time, they have been attributed the same properties and the same implication in celiac disease. However, oats contain only 15% avenin while wheat contains 40 to 50% gliadin. Oats therefore contain much less gluten than wheat.
Oats are considered edible by most celiacs, under medical supervision and as long as they are not contaminated. Cultivated oats, especially in France, are often contaminated with wheat gluten because of crop rotation and transportation methods. There are so-called “wheat-free” oats, certified as uncontaminated or “pure”.
The regulation authorizes the sale of gluten-free products made of oats. Of course, the threshold of 20 mg/kg must be respected, and therefore a chain that avoids cross-contamination with other gluten cereals.
In short, some products containing oats are still compatible with a gluten-free diet.