Disadvantages of Oats

Disadvantages of Oats

As it can happen with any product that we consume, oats can also cause some side effects, that is why it is highly advisable to know about their possible inconveniences before starting to consume them.

What damage can be caused by oats?

Although oats are one of the most consumed cereals in the world and regardless of being supported by scientific articles and journals, we must always be careful and adopt some preventive measures since there are some voices in the world of biological nutrition that are warning us about certain aspects about oats.

Why does it produce stomach swelling?

Although this is not common among healthy adults, oats can produce some gastric swelling. This effect can simply be triggered by a sudden change in our diet, like going from eating not much fiber to eating a lot of oats without a smooth transition. In this case, the swelling can also cause pain and discomfort due to abdominal cramps and flatulence.

To avoid this problem, we must lower the amount of oats that we eat and increase it gradually until we achieve a proper dose according to our objectives.

In this way, the intestinal flora will progressively absorb the new nutrients from the diet until the situation is balanced.

However, a maladjustment to an excess of fiber is not the only factor that can trigger stomach swelling. Sometimes it happens because there is an intolerance to prolamins, the proteins from oats, or it can simply be another symptom of chronic dyspepsia (bad digestions).

A tip that can help to prevent this possible but improbable side effect is to consume oats that have been finely ground and which are mixed with ferments or digestive enzymes. Another one is, in the case of oat flakes, to soak them in water the night before you plan to eat them in order to buffer the acidity of the grains and to enhance the enzymes, which will result in a smoother digestion.

Bloated stomach

Gas accumulation caused by oats

Fiber is an element that supports the digestion process, even though it is not completely digested. After going through the stomach and the small intestine, it reaches the large intestine, more specifically the colon, whose bacteria (Bacterioid and Bifidubacterium genus) break down the fiber. This produces gas: always carbon dioxide and hydrogen, sometimes methane and sulphide as well. What happens is that, when these gases are retained, their accumulation causes bloating. In this situation, it is likely to suffer stomach pain caused by the pressure of this gas mass on the walls of the stomach and intestine.

In relation to this process, oats can cause gas accumulation if they are consumed excessively, since they have a high content of both soluble and insoluble fiber. In fact, foods that are rich in soluble fiber, like oat flour, produce more gas than those which are mainly made up of insoluble fiber, such as wheat semolina or whole rice.

But there are ways to prevent these gas:

  • A very effective one is to add oats gradually to our diet and to go from an intake of 55gr daily to 85g of dietary fiber in ten days. In this way, we will be able to observe how our body responds.
  • Another one could be soaking the oats properly in order to denature the proteins that are more difficult to digest and combine it with digestive enzymes products that can be purchased in specialized shops.
  • If you cannot avoid the production of gas, take a simethicone product which can be bought without medical prescription and which will merge the gas bubbles in order to reduce the flatulence.

Who must not consume Oats?


Diabetic patients must take preventive measures when it comes to eating oats due to their high percentage of Carbohydrates, although these are of low glycemic index. In any case, they must measure the daily intake of carbohydrates thoroughly, looking for different ways to include oats in their diet without any issue.


Iron deficiency anemia is a serious obstacle for the consumption of oat bran, since this product prevents the complete absorption of iron from the intestinal tract to the blood flow.

Celiac disease

Those who are celiac or gluten intolerant are not allowed to consume oats in any shape or form. Oats lack this crucial protein fraction. But it must be taken into account that it is extremely complicated to prevent oats from being contaminated with other cereals during the manufacturing process. This makes it extremely hard to ensure a lack of gluten; let’s not forget that intolerant people react adversely even with just a milligram of this substance.

Nevertheless, there are manufacturers who perform a rigorous control from the planting to the final product, which gives them the right to label their oats as gluten-free; only under these circumstances may those who are intolerant eat oats, otherwise they will have to distance themselves from this food.

In order to avoid cross-contamination with other cereals, there is a need for a standardized protocol of control measures of the whole process. But most companies are not ready for this yet.

Intestine patients

This section refers to those who are affected by enterocolitis, Crohn’s disease or diverticulitis, among other diseases. They must avoid consuming specifically oat bran which is a food susceptible to aggravating these pathologies.

Apart from chronic processes, we should also stop eating oats if we are suffering diarrhea or gastroenteritis until we recover.

Oats forbidden

Allergy to oats

Allergy to oats triggers an anomalous reaction of the immune system which treats oat proteins as if they were antigens and, consequently, as if they were substances with the ability to cause an infection in the organism. The body stars producing specific antibodies against allergies, which are type E immunoglobulins and histamine, a substance that is released in high quantities in the blood flow. This results in a symptomatology that usually affects the digestive system with irritation of the mucosa, pain and bloating.

The intensity of these allergic reactions to oats ranges from mild and moderate to severe. This is the reason why its consumption can become a serious health problem for those who are hypersensitive to oats.

Intolerance to oat proteins

Even though they may look the same, it is a different situation from the previous one. Intolerance to oats consists of the inability of the digestive system to absorb and break down the proteins from oats. Unlike what happens with an allergy, even though if it is very similar, it is not trigger by a reaction of the immune system. Rather, it comes from a genetic lack of the specific enzymes in order to break down these proteins.

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About Carlos Sánchez
Carlos Sánchez
Carlos Sáchez is passionate about nutrition and sports. With a Degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics, he always tries to give a practical use to different theories.
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