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Health

How cutting out gluten from your diet could help you beat bone disease.

Cutting out gluten can help prevent osteoporosis – and alleviate symptoms for those suffering with the condition.

That’s the view of Dr Taher Mahmud, who is one of the country’s leading experts in this area.

Dr Mahmud says there is a widespread lack of awareness about the role gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, can have on bone health.

And he believes shining a light on this is particularly important because gluten is now found in such a huge amount of food products that make up much of our day-to-day meals.

Dr Mahmud, consultant rheumatologist and co-founder of the London Osteoporosis Clinic, said: “When someone is gluten intolerant, it can also have a profound effect on their bones, leading to conditions like osteoporosis.

“When people who are sensitive to gluten consume it, their immune system reacts by damaging the small intestine leading to a series of health problems, including those affecting bone health.

“This damage means important nutrients which are critical to bone health, such as calcium, vitamin D and magnesium cannot be absorbed effectively during the digestive process when food is broken down.”

An estimated 10 percent of the UK population are now following a gluten free diet, with one in one hundred people estimated to have coeliac disease, which requires them to follow a strict regime avoiding any traces of gluten.

The symptoms of the autoimmune condition are most commonly felt in the gastrointestinal tract with painful bloating and cramps, vomiting, and diarrhoea among them but they also include others such as skin rashes, tiredness and even loss of coordination.

It’s a particular risk for people who are undiagnosed but suffer from coeliac

disease, which the charity Coeliac UK estimates could be up to two thirds of all

sufferers. These people are at higher risk of developing diseases such as

osteoporosis or osteopenia since the damage to their small intestine continues

with gluten consumption.

Explaining why gluten can cause so many issues, Dr Mahmud said: “Eating gluten when you are intolerant triggers an inflammatory response which can affect how bone tissue is renewed and repaired.

“Coeliac disease can also lead to changes in hormone levels, such as the parathyroid hormone, which plays a critical role in regulating calcium levels and bone metabolism.”

“A strict gluten-free diet is the cornerstone of treatment for coeliac disease and

gluten sensitivity. Eliminating gluten allows the intestine to heal, improving

nutrient absorption and reducing inflammation.

“If you do suffer from either of these conditions, you may want to consider

supplementing your diet with calcium, vitamin D and other essential nutrients to

support bone health during the healing process.

“Monitoring bone density with DEXA scans can help assess the impact of gluten

related conditions on your bones and inform how you treat the condition in the

future.”

Best gluten-free foods to try

Buckwheat

Actually the seed of a flowering plant, buckwheat, is naturally gluten-free.

Rice

A versatile grain and free from gluten, rice has multiple uses.

Quinoa

Like buckwheat, quinoa is actually a seed and is related to spinach and chard.

Polenta

Made from corn, polenta is naturally free of gluten and helps bring balance to your plate.

Fresh meat

Fresh, unprocessed meat is free from gluten, but you’ll need to avoid battered or breadcrumbed products.

Fresh fish

All fresh, dried and smoked fish and shellfish are gluten-free.

Eggs

Nutritional powerhouses and offering good value for money, eggs are a kitchen staple.

Milk, cream, crème fraîche and natural yogurt

Dairy foods are naturally gluten-free and work well in so many recipes.

Butter and vegetable oils

Butter and cooking oils including ghee and lard are gluten-free

Plain potatoes

Naturally gluten-free baked, boiled and mashed potatoes may all form part of a gluten-free diet.

Plain nuts and seeds

Plain nuts, seeds and all pulses are naturally free of gluten.

Vinegars

All vinegars, including barley malt vinegar, are gluten-free.

Tomato passata and purée

Increase the contribution to your five-a-day with tomato purée or passata.

Jam, honey and marmalade

Preserves such as jam, as well as syrups such as honey and golden syrup, are naturally free of gluten.