Oats no problem for people with celiac disease?

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I It's been a common belief among people with wheat and gluten allergies that oats were off limits. Now, new research is showing that this isn't necessarily the case.

Naturally occurring cereal compounds (gliadins, secalins, hordeins, avenins, etc.) typically cause problems for people with celiac disease (CD). CD is an inherited condition that produces symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, bone pain, breathlessness, depression, diarrhea, fatigue, muscle cramps and vomiting due to proteins found in grains, especially gluten and the related protein, gliadin.

In a test-tube study by Italian researchers that appeared in the July 2001 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the authors found that "oats have no harmful effect on celiac disease" and they concluded that "oats can be safely included in a gluten-free diet."

Mary Schluckebier, national president and executive director of the Omaha, Neb.-based Celiac Sprue Association (www.csaceliacs.org), told Better Nutrition, however, that "all celiac disease organizations are cautious about including oats in a gluten-free diet." She added that a "consensus of research is building to indicate that oats may not evoke an immune response in some people with celiac disease," although it may be best for sensitive celiac sufferers to avoid oats. "If you're not sensitive," Schluckebier said, "you might try oats to see if you can tolerate it, and go get an antibody test after a couple of symptom-free months to see if your IgG, IgA and other celiac-disease markers have changed." The American Gastroenterological Association recently estimated that as many as one in 250 Americans may suffer from some form of celiac disease.

SWEET, SOUR, SALTY, BITTER ... AND UMAMI?
We were all taught in grammar school that there are four tastes the human tongue can detect: sweet, sour, salty and bitter. But in recent years, food scientists have been studying a fifth taste, umami, which roughly translates into "delicious" or "meaty." Scientists are divided about whether this fifth taste really exists or not. It is said to be associated with monosodium glutamate, or MSG, which is the salt form of the amino acid glutamic acid.

In 1959, the FDA classified MSG as a safe food additive, although many people claim to have an MSG sensitivity.

Although it doesn't have a distinct taste of its own, MSG is said to enhance the flavors of foods. Many scientists believe that this is because it stimulates the glutamate receptors in the tongue, hence the fifth taste.

Glutamate is found naturally in protein-containing foods, such as meat, milk and cheese, and MSG is typically made from fermented starch, sugar beets, sugarcane or molasses.

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