Now for a topic I knew nothing about.
An article was just published in Pediatrics that showed an incredibly significant association between autoimmunity and inflammation and eating disorders.[i] The study was conducted on adolescents born in Denmark between 1989 and 2006, who were studied up until 2012, and encompassed in total over 930,000 people. The researchers found “…significantly higher hazards of eating disorders for children and adolescents with autoimmune or autoinflammatory diseases: 36% higher hazard for anorexia nervosa, 73% for bulimia nervosa, and 72% for an eating disorder not otherwise specified.” HOLY COW. Having a parent with an autoimmune illness strongly increased the chances too.
They concluded that immunological disturbances was a huge risk factor for developing an eating disorder.
Curious, I poked around a little to see if there was any research done on looking at biome alterations in eating disorders. I found a gold mine. How about this, from a 2015 article: “We provide evidence of an intestinal dysbiosis in AN (anorexia nervosa) and an association between mood and the enteric microbiota in his patient population.”[ii] And this one, from 2017:
“Traditionally recognized as mental illnesses, eating disorders are increasingly appreciated to be biologically-driven. There is a growing body of literature that implicates a role of the gut microbiota in the etiology and progression of these conditions. Gut bacteria may act on the gut–brain axis to alter appetite control and brain function as part of the genesis of eating disorders. As the illnesses progress, extreme feeding patterns and psychological stress potentially feed back to the gut ecosystem that can further compromise physiological, cognitive, and social functioning.”[iii]
I wondered then, are rates of eating disorders going up, like other inflammatory illnesses caused by biome depletion. I found this on the National Eating Disorder Association website:
“Eating disorders are serious, life-threatening illnesses that impact millions of people every year in the United States….In spite of the unprecedented growth of eating disorders in the past two decades, eating disorders research continues to be under-funded….[iv]
Unprecedented growth. Well, yeah…that does sound familiar. Apparently eating disorders are yet another group of “psychiatric” illnesses that so aren’t.
[ii] Kleiman, SC, Watson, HJ, Bulik-Sullivan, EC, Huh, EY, Tarantino, LM, Bulik, CM, Carroll, IM. The intestinal microbiota in acute anorexia nervosa and during renourishment: relationship to depression, anxiety, and eating disorder psychopathology. Psychosomatic Medicine. 2015;77(9):969-81.
[iii] Lam, YY, Maguire, S, Palacios, T, Caterson, ID. Are the gut bacteria telling us to eat or not to eat? Reviewing the rolde of gut microbiota in the etiology, disease progression and treatment of eating disoders. Nutrients. 2017;9(6):602.