Ask the Nurse

I am a 79-year-old woman concerned about gluten. I love cream of wheat. Generally speaking, should I avoid eating cream of wheat or eat it in moderation? For your reference, I have heartburn and osteoporosis. I am a breast cancer survivor and have had a lumpectomy and hysterectomy.

There are many common misconceptions about celiac disease. To better answer your question, I’d like to give you some background information on the disease. Celiac disease is one of many autoimmune diseases and leads to damage of the small intestine. The disease can be screened through a blood test, but ultimately requires diagnosis through a tissue biopsy of the small bowel. Those who test positive with the blood test, require a confirmatory biopsy. For example, even if you have a positive blood test but have a negative tissue biopsy, you are NOT required to follow a restricted gluten free diet.

Those with true celiac disease, i.e. biopsy proven, should refrain from eating anything containing barley, wheat, rye, malt, brewery’s yeast and oats.

Since you have osteoporosis, it is important that you’re evaluated for vitamin D deficiency, which can be identified through a simple blood test. Celiac disease can often lead to malabsorption of essential nutrients including vitamin D.

All my best,
Speaking of Women’s Health nurse

August 18, 2015 at 9:31am