Are oats gluten free?

I noticed in my practice that there is some confusion about gluten free grains. Many people think that oats are gluten free. And that gluten free oats are more processed than normal oats. So let’s look into that.

One of the first things I advise clients with digestive issues is to eliminate gluten. And many of them start feeling a lot better! But it can be confusing. And hard. Because the rest of the world eats gluten, gluten is in almost every processed food and gluten containing foods are a big part of our social life. Think birthday cake, tea and biscuits and beer…

So what about oats?

Well, technically oats are a gluten free grain. But they are usually grown in fields where they grow oats and glutenous grains (like wheat, rye and barley) in rotation. Which means that when there are still wheat kernels on the field from last year, they will grow wheat plants between the oats. So the oat harvest will probably have quite a bit of wheat in it as well.

Then when the oats are processed in a factory, guess what else gets processed there? Loads of wheat.

So oats in themselves are gluten free but are contaminated with (mostly) wheat. Oats that are marked ‘gluten free’ are the same oats, but they are grown in fields where they don’t grow gluten containing grain and processed away from wheat.

So yay! You can still have your porridge in the morning if you’re following a gluten free protocol. As long as it explicitly says they are gluten free. The same for oatcakes, oat biscuits, oat bars etc. Want to make your own oat bars? Here’s a recipe!

Which is great because oats are a very nutritious grain. They’re a good source of fiber, trace minerals and even plant-based protein. Eating gluten-free oatmeal regularly is a good way to obtain B vitamins, iron, magnesium and selenium.

If you want to know more about how to shop safely for gluten free, have a look at my blog about 9 Tips for Gluten Free Shopping

Turmeric milk made my way

Golden or turmeric milk is a cow’s, nut or coconut milk, heated with a good amount of turmeric in it. I shouldn’t be saying this as a nutrition and herb expert because of it’s great properties, but… I didn’t like to drink it! The reason was that I used turmeric powder. That leaves you with quite a lot of bits in your milk and it has quite a strong bitter taste.

But now they’re selling fresh turmeric root in my local shop, so I decided to try again. Delicious! I loved it! Maybe you want to have a try as well.

Anti-inflammatory

Turmeric is well known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties. And this is not something woo woo to brush aside:  there are currently over 10,000 peer-reviewed articles published proving turmeric benefits, especially one of its renowned healing compounds, curcumin.

In several of those papers  the researchers  compared turmeric to conventional medicine, and found out it worked equally well or even better than the  pharmaceutical medication!

Recently turmeric has even been recognised for helping with depression!

Turmeric milk recipe

I like to use fresh ginger root in my turmeric milk as well, as it makes it nice and warming. And I do add a tiny bit of sweetener.

One warning: turmeric can stain your clothes yellow, so don’t wear your new white shirt and make sure you put on a apron!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh turmeric
  • Optional: a teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 mug of coconut milk from a can, full fat
  • 1/2 mug of water
  • Or; 1 mug of home made nut or seed milk
  • A tiny bit of sweetener: 3 drops of liquid stevia or a teaspoon of raw honey or maple syrup, optional

Steps

  • Put all your ingredients except for the sweetener in a saucepan
  • Heat gently until hot but not boiling
  • Leave it on a very low heat for 5 minutes
  • Pour through a tea strainer and add the sweetener if you want
  • Enjoy!

Turmeric for depression and anxiety

Depression and anxiety are on the rise. In the UK we experience them ten times as often as in 1945.

Antidepressants like Prozac are among the most widely used medications. Where is seems easy to solve the problem by popping a pill, quite a lot of people don’t really feel better after six months. And it can be really challenging to come off them. I’ve been there myself: it took me four years! This is one of the reasons why there are many who don’t want to take antidepressants.

Prozac or turmeric?

Interestingly, a recent study called ‘Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial‘ researched the claim that the spice turmeric would  work as an antidepressant.

In this study, 3 groups of 20 participants with major depression according to a commonly used scale, received either  Prozac, Prozac + 1g of oil-based curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, or  just curcumin alone for 6 weeks. The combination group had the best results (77.8%) followed by the Prozac (64.7%) and the curcumin (62.5%).  But these differences were not statistically significant. Are you getting that? The curcumin was just as effective as Prozac! And the authors emphasized curcumin’s high degree of safety up to dosages of 12g a day.

Inflammation

We have been taught that depression is a chemical imbalance. It’s supposed to be  the result of a deficiency in chemicals called neurotransmitters, like serotonin and norepinephrine. But most of the theories about neurotransmitter deficiencies as the cause of depression have never been proven. What we dó know is that study after study is showing us that inflammation is an underlying cause of so many of the medical conditions we are experiencing, and that there really is no separation between the immune and nervous systems.

Anti-inflammatory spice

Turmeric is a root, actually more properly called a rhizome. It looks a bit like its cousin, ginger root. That is, until you cut it open and you see the bright yellow inside! One of the benefits of turmeric is that it is strongly anti-inflammatory. And turmeric is one of the champions: it both prevents inflammation and fights it once inflammation takes hold.

Other ways in which curcumin can affect depression are that it reduces oxidative stress – the damage caused by free radicals –  and it calms down the adrenal stress response system.

Try it out

Curcumin is easy to get and absorbs relatively well. I use it in my practice in a form called Meriva, but you can use any good quality curcumin extract. I typically start with 500 mg twice a day. It is safe to use while you are on an antidepressant medication, so it is something you can use if you are trying to work with your doctor to wean yourself off of an antidepressant. You can also use a couple of teaspoons of turmeric powder in your cooking or in your smoothies. For better absorption add some ground black pepper. Or drink some ginger turmeric milk before bed!