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Celiac Disease, Fracture Risks, and Gluten-free Diets

Persistent tissue damage in persons with Celiac Disease can leave them at a greater risk for hip fractures. Recently, studies have been undertaken to ascertain whether the risks remain as high after the individual incorporates a gluten-free diet. Researchers found that the level of initial tissue damage, and the ability of the tissue to heal, had a significant effect on fracture risks.


Celiac Disease is an immune response that, as a result of the body’s reactions to the protein gluten found in many grains, leads to tissue damage in the small intestine. Damage to the intestinal tissues can lead to an increased risk of hip fracture, which is why those who have Celiac Disease are at an increased risk of hip fracture. Affected individuals are often encouraged to consume a gluten-free diet to help enable the body to heal and help prevent any lasting intestinal damage.


The study, published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (January 16th, 2014), utilized samples that were collected from more than 7100 patients over a time span covering four decades. 5 years after the initial Celiac Disease diagnosis’ review biopsies of the intestines were performed, finding that many of those affected were able to heal and were at a reduced risk of fracture. Though, 43% were found to have persistent damage and were still at high risk.


Researchers concluded that the intestines needed the ability to heal in order to reduce fracture risks, which would require following a gluten-free diet. Although, in some cases, the damage to the intestinal tissues may be significant enough that the risks still exist, even with a gluten-free diet. In these cases, an early diagnosis and lifestyle modifications are essential to the individual’s wellbeing.


Gluten-Free Diet Tips

— Avoid grains such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye)


— Look for gluten-free breads, pastas, beer, cereals, dressings, sauces, soups, gravies, croutons, candies, cakes and pies, and gluten-free cookies and crackers


— Stick to products that are labeled as gluten-free or made with corn, rice, soy, or other gluten-free grains

— Some naturally gluten-free products include beans, seeds, unprocessed nuts, fresh eggs, un-breaded and un-marinated meats, fruits, vegetables, and most dairy products

— Consult with a dietician for more advice



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