DepressionInternationalIndiaAfricaPeople develop anorexia not only due to their psyche and obsessive thoughts about food or appearance that drive catastrophic weight loss mania, but their own intestines, research has shown.Recent research has indicated that there is a connection between the eating disorder anorexia and the composition of gut bacteria.In a first study of its kind, a Danish-led international team of experts managed to prove that intestinal bacteria play an important role in the development of anorexia and prolong the patients’ suffering.
"It is ground-breaking in the way that it confirms the suspicion that anorexia is a disease which doesn't only stem from something entirely psychological," Professor Rene Stoving, senior physician at the Center for Eating Disorders at Odense University Hospital, told Danish media.
According to Stoving, the idea that the brain influences the intestines through the nervous system and the hormones is well-known. The novelty here lies in that the influence actually goes both ways, he said.Science & TechThe Lowdown on Upchucking: Vomiting is ‘Gut-to-Brain’ Defense Reaction, Study Reveals27 December 2022, 14:45 GMTDuring the course of the study, the researchers studied stool samples from 77 Danish girls and women with anorexia. These were subsequently compared with 70 stool samples from healthy women. As a result, a severe imbalance in the bacterial composition was found. The bacteria (or lack of them) may ultimately affect people’s appetite, making it very difficult for patients with bad intestinal flora to combat anorexia.Subsequent experiments indicated that mice who had bad intestinal flora transplanted into them exhibited worse appetite and less social behavior.According to Stoving, the subject matter is so extensive that potentially researchers may have to look at other mental diseases and their connection to the gut. This new discovery may also lead to new treatment options, albeit further into the future.
Anorexia is a widespread eating disorder, in which obsessive thoughts about food, body and weight lead to significant weight loss due to fears of becoming overweight. It mostly concerns teenage girls and young women (nine out of ten affected). A person with anorexia is severely malnourished and in some cases can become life-threateningly ill.