Background: Evidence suggests the acceptability of oats in a gluten-free diet in coeliac disease. We investigated the impact of an oats-containing diet on quality of life and gastrointestinal symptoms.
Methods: Thirty-nine coeliac disease patients on a gluten-free diet were randomized to take either 50 g of oats-containing gluten-free products daily or to continue without oats for 1 year. Quality of life was assessed using the Psychological General Well-Being questionnaire and gastrointestinal symptoms using the Gastrointestinal Symptom Rating Scale. Small-bowel mucosal villous architecture, CD3+, alphabeta+, gammadelta+ intraepithelial lymphocytes, serum endomysial and tissue transglutaminase antibodies were investigated.
Results: Twenty-three subjects were randomized to the oats-containing diet and 16 to the traditional gluten-free diet. All adhered strictly to their respective diet. Quality of life did not differ between the groups. In general, there were more gastrointestinal symptoms in the oats-consuming group. Patients taking oats suffered significantly more often from diarrhoea, but there was a simultaneous trend towards a more severe average constipation symptom score. The villous structure did not differ between the groups, but the density of intraepithelial lymphocytes was slightly but significantly higher in the oats group. The severity of symptoms was not dependent on the degree of inflammation. Antibody levels did not increase during the study period.
Conclusion: The oats-containing gluten-free diet caused more intestinal symptoms than the traditional diet. Mucosal integrity was not disturbed, but more inflammation was evident in the oats group. Oats provide an alternative in the gluten-free diet, but coeliac patients should be aware of the possible increase in intestinal symptoms.