Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Acai for the Prevention of Osteoporosis in Celiac Disease.

Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bones become less dense than normal. In osteoporosis, the bone mineral density is significantly reduced, bone micro architecture is modified, and the amount and variety of non-collagenous proteins in bone is muddled. The decreased density makes the bones more fragile and more likely to break. In fact, most people are not aware that they have osteoporosis until they sustain a fracture.

Celiac disease on the other hand, is an autoimmune disease of the small intestine that typically occurs in genetically predisposed people of all ages. Symptoms include chronic diarrhea, fatigue, ataxia and peripheral neuropathy. However, the disease tends to be asymptomatic in some cases.

Osteoporosis and celiac disease are closely interrelated with the former being a complication of the latter. When people with celiac disease consume foods that contain gluten (a form of protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye), the villi that line the small intestine are damaged. As a consequence, the nutrients in food cannot be efficiently absorbed by the body. Among the nutrients that are malabsorbed are calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin K, which are all essential for healthy bones. Therefore, low bone density is common in patients with celiac disease. The risk of osteoporosis increases drastically among celiac patients who were not diagnosed early because they have gone for a longer period without enough calcium and other nutrients needed for normal bone growth and development.

The link between celiac disease and osteoporosis is so strong that medical practitioners advise all patients who have developed osteoporosis at a young age to get screened for celiac disease in order to find out whether their low bone density is related to malabsorption. In some cases, osteoporosis can be the only sign of celiac disease. Likewise experts recommend that geriatric patients with osteoporosis that doesn't seem to respond to medication should also be tested for celiac disease.

Since these two disease entities are intertwined, a differential diagnosis must be well established. If the patient is diagnosed with celiac disease, then the patient must be treated for that condition in order to prevent the occurrence of osteoporosis. To date, the only effective treatment is a life-long gluten-free diet. There is no medication thus far that will prevent damage or prevent the body from attacking the intestine when gluten is present. Strict adherence to the diet allows the intestines to heal, which leads to resolution of symptoms in most cases and, depending on how early the diet is begun, can also reduce or eliminate the risk of osteoporosis. If osteoporosis is present without any evidence of celiac disease, then a different treatment approach would be administered to the patient. Medication usually includes calcium, vitamin D, bisphosphonates and several others. Exercise with its anabolic effect, may at the same time stop or reverse the course of osteoporosis. There are standard treatment protocols for these diseases. There are also alternative therapies as well as dietary supplements. Most of them cannot address osteoporosis and celiac disease if they are both present. However, there is one fruit that can tackle the underlying causes and complications of these two diseases simultaneously. I’m talking about the Acai berry which is widely considered as one of the world’s most complete and healthful foods. Just like most berries, tha Acai berry is also a healthy source of natural fiber which is beneficial for the cardiovascular system, digestive tract, and colon health. The freeze dried Acai powder contains 14 grams of fiber in every 100 grams of pulp. This is relatively high and may help lower blood cholesterol and promotes a healthy digestive system. When incorporated into the diet of a patient with celiac disease, it can hasten the regeneration of damaged villi in the small intestine and enhance its capacity to absorb the essential nutrients needed by the body. Acai contains a significant amount of dietary calcium, the mineral that is the main constituent of bones. Women are at higher risk for developing osteoporosis later in life so their RDA for calcium is higher than men. They can then take Acai supplements to attain the calcium levels required for healthy bones. Calcium also helps to streghten the bones and prevent fractures, which is a common complication of osteoporosis. Finally, a word of caution. The Acai is marketed in various forms, it is important to note that the solid or capsule form is more potent since it contains all the antioxidants, phytosterols, essential amino acids, omega fatty acids as well as viatmins and minerals that you are after. They are all locked in and intact in the solid variant. This is in sharp contast to the liquid forms of Acai such as juices which have already gone through processing and addition of preservatives and other fruit extracts to satisfy your discriminating pallate.


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