Have you ever heard the following expression: “That’s a thorny issue”? It is suppose to mean that the issue has a lot of points that can cause problems. Well, I am doing a take-off on that expression. I want to tell you about a “bony issue”. I know I can be a bit corny at times (inherited that ability from my mother), but it is actually a very serious subject. The subject I am talking about is osteoporosis.
As you probably already know, osteoporosis is a disease where bones get thin and weak from lack of calcium and then break easily as a result. It can be a painful disease, but not from the bones thinning. The pain comes from the easy and frequent breaking of bones. Most women should be concerned about this disease, because women are more susceptible to getting the disease.
When I started reading about the long-term problems of having Gluten Intolerance, or Celiac Disease, I came across some distressing information. Celiacs have a greater chance of getting osteoporosis for a very simple reason. The intestines ability to absorb calcium and other nutrients is greatly hindered by the damage gluten does to the intestinal lining. My first reaction was, “Oh Great …. Now I can have 2 diseases!” Yes, it was a bit sarcastic, but at the time I was still adjusting to the fact I couldn’t eat my favorite foods anymore.
After I stopped being sarcastic and feeling a bit sorry for myself all over again, I did a bit of research I want to share with you. Osteoporosis is preventable for most people if they get enough calcium to prevent bone loss. So even people who are Celiacs can, and should, make sure that enough calcium is ingested in the diet over a lifetime. It was interesting to read that the gluten-caused intestinal damage occurs right where calcium is absorbed. So if you don’t stop eating gluten, eventually your body will start absorbing the calcium out of your bones. That’s a very creepy thought isn’t it? It’s as if your own body becomes a cannibal.
Without getting too technical, the longer it took to find out you have a gluten intolerance, the greater the risk of developing osteoporosis. You should insist your doctor test for bone density to see how much damage has occurred already. You can’t solve a problem if you don’t understand the problem. The test is a scan called DEXA or Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry. I had it done and it is completely painless. I also found out I had very little bone loss so far. That was a relief to know.
If you have gluten intolerance, pay special attention to how much calcium you intake. The first step is to not eat gluten of course. If you keep eating gluten, you’ll keep damaging your intestine. Harm your intestine and you can’t absorb calcium. Then add Calcium and Vitamin D supplements to your diet. Your doctor will also probably prescribe a Calcium drug. If you can get enough calcium without prescription drugs, I would certainly recommend that as the way to go. I looked on the National Academy of Sciences dietary chart and it says I should be getting 1,000 mg per day of calcium and 200 I.U. per day of Vitamin D. The doctor says I will have to raise the amount as I get older.
Talk to your doctor and find out how much calcium you should be taking. It’s a whole lot easier to prevent osteoporosis than it is to fix a broken bone.