If you are a woman you have a 50:50 chance of developing osteoporosis. Men are less at risk with only 25% of them developing the disease. Osteoporosis is a debilitating disease that robs its victims of the active lifestyle they used to enjoy.
As the 11th leading cause of death, osteoporosis is something we need to learn more about.
- The Link Between Inflamation and Seratonin: Research has shown a correlation between celiac disease and osteoporosis and IBS and osteoporosis for quite some time. There’s also been a strong correlation between malabsorption and osteoporosis. But it wasn’t until some recent research emerged that understanding dawned. It turns out that the inflammation caused by such problems as gluten sensitivity, celiac disease, malabsorption and IBS result in the increased production of serotonin in the gut. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and if you thought it was mostly produced in the brain you are intuitively correct, because that does make sense, but factually wrong. 70% of all the serotonin we produce is made in the gut. And serotonin, when produced in excess, causes our bones to break down – hence osteopenia and osteoporosis.The mechanism is very well explained in a 2008 article in Cell journal entitled “When the Gut Talks to Bone”. The article revealed that certain genes (Wnt genes) trigger signaling factors required for the development of bones and nerve structures in our bodies. These genes are activated by serotonin.
The research showed that there was indeed a correlation between gut inflammation, increased serotonin production and osteoporosis. And considering what we know as regards gluten sensitivity being a major cause of gut inflammation, we begin to see that osteoporosis doesn’t need to remain something we’re afflicted with. We have some control.
- The Problem with Conventional Treatment: Unfortunately many patients are approached from the wrong end of the problem. They have IBS and they are given anti-anxiety medications (treating the symptoms) instead of correctly diagnosing their gluten sensitivity (treating the cause). The patient takes their meds, doesn’t change their diet and later in life adds osteoporosis to their list of ailments which too is treated with medication.
- Treat the Cause, Not Just the Symptom: Wouldn’t it be better to diagnose the root cause?Once gluten is removed, the intestines become less inflamed, serotonin production normalizes and the loss of bone will cease.
And here we have another very important reason why not to “cheat” when you’re gluten sensitive. When you cheat you’re creating gut inflammation. Can you “feel” gut inflammation – unfortunately not always.
I often say that I wish my patients had dramatic and unpleasant responses to cheating. If that sounds unkind let me explain myself. The patients who get instant migraines or terrible digestive problems are obviously much less likely to cheat than those who don’t seem to notice much in the way of symptoms. Osteoporosis is not something you “feel”. At least not until you start breaking bones and then it’s much too late. If you’re gluten sensitive please read my book The Gluten Effect and learn about all the “silent” ways gluten can affect you.
Just today I received an email from a woman who had been suffering since the age of 9. Listen to her list of symptoms:
“I have been sick for many years, I am currently 39 and have been sick since I was 9 with various ailments that doctors couldn’t quite nail down. After I lost my daughter to stillbirth, doctors said I was “sad”, or I was “grieving” so therefore my symptoms weren’t real. I ended up getting a hysterectomy, and was treated for so many different things including fibromylagia, chronic fatigue, depression, a possible liver problem, spleen, gallbladder, migraines, vertigo, the list goes on. Everything seemed to calm down about a year ago when I was taken away in an ambulance with a severe case of vertigo. The episodes happened again and again until this January when I was sent to the University of Iowa for a balance test. I was diagnosed with vertiginous migraines. I was sent to a neurologist who refused to see me more than once. That led me to a chiropractor because I was getting migraines 2x a week. He looked at me, listened to my history and told me I had a gluten intolerance. I was shocked and frankly didn’t believe him. I then went to my Dr who said I should try it but she didn’t believe it either and said insurance won’t pay. On April 1st, I started … so far I have not had one vertigo spell, nor migraine, my asthma has calmed down and I have far more energy than I have ever had.”
These are the kind of stories I hear every day from my patients. Heartwarming for me and the doctors I work with because we’re the ones correctly diagnosing these patients. But sad at the same time because look at all the needless suffering that occurred. Do you think this woman would have added osteoporosis to her list of ailments by the time she was in her 40s? Most likely.
If you or someone you know has osteoporosis in their family encourage them to get evaluated for gluten sensitivity. You will be acting as a very good friend.