Dr. Chris Steele: Guest Blog Post
I was diagnosed with coeliac disease four years ago so I understand first-hand the challenges of finding not only healthy but tasty gluten-free food. Suddenly everything seems to contain gluten and the change in your lifestyle takes a long time to get used to. The challenges I encountered lead me to partner with Nairn’s so that together we can help to bring you information about enjoying a safe and balanced diet, which is not only gluten-free but healthy and tasty too!
I’ve been enjoying Nairn’s range of gluten-free oaty food for a couple of years now. The products taste great, are wholegrain and high in fibre and I know they are safe for me to eat. Being an ex-hobnob addict their gluten-free Oats and Syrup Biscuit Breaks are the best gluten-free biscuit I’ve tasted! Equally in the mornings I love their porridge and muesli, which make sure I’m feeling ready for the day. Not all coeliacs, however, are aware of the facts about including oats in their diet, or the benefits of doing so.
When you are newly diagnosed with coeliac disease you will have damage to the lining of your intestines due to the exposure to gluten over the years. After diagnosis, once you are following a gluten-free diet, your intestine has time to heal – your body has been through a lot and it is important that you allow yourself time to adjust and recover. It is advised that newly diagnosed coeliacs avoid oats for the first 6 to 12 months after diagnosis and thereafter reintroduce pure, gluten-free oats slowly into their diet. This is to allow your body time to heal so it can digest the oats, but also because oats contain a protein called avenin. About 5% of coeliacs react to avenin so if you reintroduce oats under controlled conditions you can monitor to see if you do react. For 95% of coeliacs who can tolerate avenin, then gluten-free oats are safe for you to eat. If you’re looking to re-introduce oats into your diet I would recommend adding a small amount of gluten-free oats into your diet with the symptoms being monitored by a healthcare practitioner and ensure you are eating gluten-free oats from a trusted brand, like Nairn’s, so that you know they are safe and tested to standards approved by Coeliac UK.
Including oats in your gluten-free diet adds variety and can provide lots of health benefits. They are a good source of fibre, which can help with healthy bowel activity, and they can help you to feel more satisfied after eating them as oats swell inside the stomach, making you feel full. They can help to regulate your blood sugar and have also been found to reduce cholesterol therefore are beneficial in promoting a healthy heart and reducing the risk of stroke. This effect on blood sugar levels also helps to reduce the risk of diabetes and helps to control blood sugar levels in diabetics. A lot of gluten-free foods are highly processed and therefore have added sugar or fat to improve the texture and taste but this, of course, adds extra calories. The Nairn’s gluten-free oats range is low in sugar but high in fibre so will give you a natural boost. I’m sure you’ll agree that oats really are a superfood!