If You Have Osteoporosis, Wheat May be Responsible

PizzaPeople who have the bone disease osteoporosis are more likely than the general population to also have celiac disease, an intestinal disorder caused by intolerance to wheat flour (gluten). Celiac disease renders patients unable to absorb certain nutrients, including calcium and vitamin D -- both essential to bone health -- leading to osteoporosis. The good news? Researchers say that treating celiac disease with diet can help patients regain bone health.

The study involved 840 people, 266 patients with osteoporosis and 547 without. Nine of the patients with osteoporosis also had celiac disease, compared with only one of those without osteoporosis. Results suggested that 3 percent to 4 percent of people with osteoporosis have it because they have celiac disease.

A Gluten-Free Diet Improves Osteoporosis in Celiac Patients

When patients with celiac disease and osteoporosis were put on a gluten-free diet for one year, they were able to improve not only gastrointestinal symptoms but bone density as well, researchers said.

Celiac disease is an immune reaction to the gluten portion of wheat. It inhibits the intestine's absorption of nutrients, which can lead to malnutrition and gastrointestinal symptoms. Many patients experience weight loss and diarrhea as a result, although some patients experience only mild symptoms and therefore may not know they have the disease. The condition is treated by removing gluten-containing grains from the diet.

In the study, 4.5 percent of people with osteoporosis also had celiac disease, compared with only 0.2 percent of people with healthy bones. Researchers say this occurrence was high enough to justify regularly screening patients with osteoporosis for celiac disease, and if the results come back positive to put them on a gluten-free diet to treat both conditions.

Archives of Internal Medicine February 28, 2005;165(4):393-399

Medical News Today February 28, 2005

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Celiac disease was previously believed to be a very rare condition, found in as few as one in 5,000 people. Five years ago, however, I posted a study that showed one in 33 people have celiac disease. Additionally, researchers have found the presence of celiac disease can increase one's risk of schizophrenia too.

As you probably know I am no fan of wheat. Even though I was called "Dr. Fiber" in medical school 25 years ago for my passion about whole wheat products, I have subsequently learned that wheat, yes even whole grain organic wheat, can absolutely devastate many people's health.

Most people don't realize that there are many less than obvious reactions to gluten-containing grains like wheat that can cause health problems (gluten is a protein in wheat, barley, rye, oats and spelt). Medicine has a term for this and it is called sub-clinical gluten intolerance. Most of us are addicted to breads, bagels, pizza, pasta, waffles and pancakes and would rather die than give them up. And many people do just that, die from insulin-related complications from eating grains. This is why I strongly recommend anyone with insulin resistance eliminate grains as well as sugars from their diet.

I realize that this can be a daunting task, especially if this is the first time you've been introduced to this notion, but once you do it you'll find that not only do your cravings for sugar and grains stop, but also your body will feel so great that you won't want to go back.

One of the most difficult things for people to overcome when changing their diet is changing their routines that involve certain foods. In our current culture typical breakfasts are a disaster. Cereal, toast, bagels and pancakes are some of the worst foods most of us could eat. It takes some getting used to, but expanding your diet to include a variety of foods, some that are certainly not the "norm" in America, is essential and changing your breakfast to healthier choices would likely be one of the most important modifications you could make in your diet.

To help your mind adapt to this idea, the energy psychology tool EFT is a great tool to use. It will help you to eliminate negative emotions that drive you to hold on to many of the highly processed junk foods and grains that are helpful to avoid, while helping you overcome emotionally based food cravings.

To help your taste buds adapt to this idea, seek out fresh foods and use them in creative new recipes. If you eat the same few things over and over, you're bound to get bored and go back to your old eating habits. Instead, actively plan to find exciting recipes using tastes and spices that you haven't experienced before. You can search the Internet or local book stores for grain- and sugar-free recipes, and my Total Health Program, is a great starting point.

Related Articles:

Avoiding Wheat and Gluten May Reverse Liver Failure and Hepatitis

Severe Wheat Intolerance Fifty Times More Common Than Previously Thought

Avoiding Osteoporosis Can Start Before Puberty

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