Osteoporosis is the thinning of the bone tissue and loss of bone density. The disease occurs when the new bone tissue is not formed quickly enough, or the body reabsorbs too much old bone tissue, or both. It is estimated that about 1 in 5 American women over the age of 50 have osteoporosis. Since there are no early indicator signs, many who have the disease are not aware of it until they experience a fracture. Sadly it is often by this point that the disease is in its advanced stages.
With osteoporosis, bones become brittle and are more prone to fracturing. Approximately half of all women over the age of 50 will suffer from a fracture of their wrist, hip or vertebra (your spinal bones). These fractures can happen even without injury. Broken bones in patients with osteoporosis may also take even longer to heal than a non-osteoporotic injury.
When you are young, your body needs to absorb plenty of vitamin D, calcium, phosphate and magnesium. These are essential nutrients for the development of healthy bones. When your body fails to absorb enough of those nutrients for any reason, bones become weakened, which leads to osteoporosis later in life.
Your intestinal wall is covered with microscopic projections called villi. These increase the total surface area of your intestine and allow your body to absorb the crucial nutrients it needs more efficiently from your food. Ingesting gluten from wheat, rye and barley damages the villi in people with Celiac Disease (a genetic disease) or gluten sensitivity (a gluten allergy). Your villi can become inflamed or even deteriorate completely in severe cases. Because of the impairment that gluten causes on your intestinal function, it interferes with the absorption of nutrients, including vitamin D, calcium, phosphate and magnesium.
It is in this way that Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity may appear first as a nutritional deficiency, but the effects of gluten in your diet can start showing up in other places in your body, far removed from your digestive system. As discussed, one of these effects, of course, may be osteoporosis, resulting in weak, brittle bones and fractures. Due to this fact, Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity can go overlooked for years. Osteoporosis can progress further despite the addition of more vitamin D, calcium and other bone-supporting nutrients to your diet, because the issue is not what you eat, it is what your body absorbs. Moreover if you are sensitive to gluten, and remove it from your diet, it will eliminate symptoms that are distinct from those resulting from the inflammation in your small intestine.
Your body is astonishingly resilient, and it will be able to recover from the effects of gluten, given time. When you decide to live a gluten free lifestyle, your small intestine can repair itself, and your body can once again absorb nutrients more efficiently. You will not only be able to reduce your chances of developing osteoporosis, but a whole host of other secondary diseases and symptoms related to Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity.