Causes: Why can’t I tolerate oat milk?
Oats are a local grain that is generally a very valuable food and is well suited for a healthy diet: Oats contain many nutrients such as healthy fats, protein and fiber and also lower the cholesterol level .
It is true that oat milk contains very few or none of the health-promoting properties compared to whole grains. But the vegan milk alternative made from oats is a regional food and is kind to the environment compared to cow’s milk. No wonder then that the consumption of oat milk is increasing and becoming more and more important.
However, in very rare cases , eating oats leads to symptoms such as flatulence, diarrhea, abdominal cramps or nausea. Sometimes, however, oats can also cause a runny nose, a burning or itchy mouth, or shortness of breath.
The cause of the complaints come a G lutenunverträglichkeit, gluten sensitivity or an allergy in question.
What do gluten intolerance, gluten sensitivity or an allergy mean?
Food intolerances are disorders that affect the metabolism. In the event of an intolerance, the body does not have enough of certain enzymes or other transport proteins to be able to break down or digest certain components of the food. These intolerances are known, for example, with the substances milk sugar (lactose), fruit sugar (fructose) or histamine.
In the case of a reaction against oats, however, only an intolerance to gluten comes into question. Gluten is a so-called adhesive protein that is contained in cereals and, among other things, ensures that bread sticks together well when baking and does not become crumbly. Important: The overwhelming majority of people can tolerate gluten without any problems, the substance is generally not harmful to health .
Doctors call celiac disease a real gluten intolerance or intolerance. This is a long-term inflammation of the intestinal lining that causes symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, dental problems, stunted growth and many other very debilitating ailments. True celiac disease is very rare: only one percent of people in Germany suffer from it.
People with this disease do not tolerate grain at all and must strictly avoid wheat, oats, rye, spelled and barley for life.
Typical symptoms of celiac disease are:
- Bloated stomach
- stomach pain
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Premature births or miscarriages
- Delayed puberty development
If oat milk causes you discomfort, gluten sensitivity (in technical jargon: non-celiac disease-non-wheat allergy-wheat sensitivity) could also be an option . Here, too, people suffer from abdominal pain, diarrhea, fatigue or muscle pain after consuming grain .
However, gluten sensitivity does not cause long-term damage to the intestine , as is the case with celiac disease, and the symptoms are not as severe. However, the existence of this disorder is controversial, and researchers have not yet been able to clearly define the symptoms and triggers. Doctors suspect that in most cases gluten is not the cause , but other special substances contained in cereals – especially wheat.
You should only think about gluten intolerance (celiac disease) or gluten sensitivity if you get symptoms such as diarrhea and stomach cramps after consuming all types of grain (wheat, rye, barley, oats). Both disorders are rare.
Allergy to oats
Another cause of your symptoms could be an allergy . In the case of an allergy, the body’s immune system reacts defensively to a substance that is actually harmless. Many symptoms of an allergy express themselves – in contrast to a food intolerance – outside of the digestive tract: the mucous membranes swell , accompanied by itching and allergic rhinitis.
Many people know this from a pollen or house dust mite allergy. In the case of symptoms after consuming oat milk, a cross-reaction comes into question: People who are generally allergic to grass pollen can also have an allergic reaction to grains such as rye, oats, wheat, barley, soy, peanuts, peas and even tomatoes .
Typical symptoms here are itching, burning or swelling in the mouth, shortness of breath, but also abdominal pain and other gastrointestinal complaints .
What to do if you have an oat milk intolerance?
If your symptoms are troubling and frequent, you should see a doctor. They can then examine you and make a diagnosis. Only then can you know what is responsible for the symptoms and take the necessary steps to get rid of them.
How does your doctor recognize gluten intolerance?
If you suspect that you have gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity , you can ask your doctor for advice. As a rule, he will refer you to a gastroenterologist, i.e. a specialist in gastrointestinal diseases. Only a specialist doctor can diagnose celiac disease. If you suspect gluten intolerance (celiac disease), the doctor will take a blood sample and check whether your blood contains certain antibodies.
If this is the case, the doctor will also do a gastroscopy and take a sample from the small intestine. Only then can he make a reliable diagnosis.
Gluten sensitivity diagnosis: how is it diagnosed?
There is no special test for gluten sensitivity because the exact trigger is not yet known and the existence of the disorder is controversial. Doctors can, however, make a diagnosis of exclusion: They rule out all other possible diseases and then make the diagnosis of gluten sensitivity, which in technical jargon means “non-celiac disease-non-wheat allergy-wheat sensitivity”.
Oat Allergy: How Can You Identify It?
If an allergy is a possible cause , your doctor will ask you about known allergies and then perform a classic allergy test , the so-called prick test. Here the doctor drips various allergens onto the inside of the forearm.
The doctor scratches the surface of the skin with a fine needle. If the patient is allergic, he or she reacts with reddening or a wheal in the corresponding area.
If the allergy test for oats is positive, you should avoid the grain in your diet .
In case of intolerance: How can I avoid oats?
In Germany, the most important allergens must be labeled on food packaging and in restaurants: These are all types of grain, eggs, milk, soy and seafood. As a type of cereal, oats are one of them . So you will find references to this on packaging and in menu cards, so you can easily avoid the ingestion of oats.
If you are healthy , however, there is no need to cut grains off your diet. This can even harm you: Grains often contain a lot of fiber and minerals, which are important for a healthy diet .
What are the alternatives to oat milk?
If you can’t tolerate oat milk , you can of course use cow, sheep or goat milk instead. If you prefer to use vegan alternatives , you can replace oat milk with almond milk, cashew milk, coconut milk, soy or rice milk for cooking and drinking. However, it is worth taking a closer look here: Not all of these milk alternatives are equally healthy .
Large amounts of soy milk can upset the hormonal balance, as the phytoestrogens it contains are very similar to human hormones. Rice milk is very low in nutrients and rich in sugar. Experts believe almond milk is a better choice : it naturally contains calcium and other minerals. In principle, milk alternatives should not contain any added sugar.
If you do not suffer from a gluten intolerance, gluten sensitivity or allergy to burden you but generally recurring diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating, one could irritable bowel syndrome as the cause come into question. Here you can find information about irritable bowel syndrome . If your irritated bowel does not allow you to calm down, the low FODMAP diet may be able to help you .
You can also develop an intolerance to coconut milk . You can find out more about this in our article.
Oat milk intolerance – what to do?
Oats are generally a healthy food because the grain is high in fiber, healthy fats, and protein. In very rare cases, cereals trigger symptoms such as abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea or nausea .
The causes for this could be gluten intolerance (celiac disease), gluten sensitivity or an allergy. Gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity are only likely if you also react with similar symptoms to other types of grain such as rye, wheat, barley and spelled.
In the case of an allergy, there are often other symptoms such as itching or swelling in the mouth, runny nose or shortness of breath. If you suffer from the symptoms mentioned, you should see a doctor and have your complaints clarified. Because removing cereals from the menu without a diagnosis makes no sense. Restricting your diet lightly can be bad for your health .
But if you have to do without oat milk, there are many alternatives : cow or goat milk, almond milk, cashew milk or coconut milk, for example.