The role gut bacteria play in anorexia

Two German researchers recently published an article in European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, where they show that an increasing number of clinical studies show a connection between the digestive system and anorexia nervosa.

There is growing evidence that the gut microbiota influences weight regulation and psychopathology, such as anxiety and depression. . . . Moreover, starvation has a substantial impact on the gut microbiome, and diets used for re-nutrition based on animal products may support the growth of bacteria capable of triggering inflammation.

In the article, they review multiple studies involving both animal and human subjects, which explore the connection between the digestive system and mental health, specifically related to anorexia nervosa. Admittedly, they show the data is sparse, but it shows promise as an emerging field. Particularly, recent research has shown promise in finding both a connection between the digestive system and anorexia nervosa as well as treatment through nutrition.

There is substantial evidence for alterations of the gut microbiome in eating disorders . . . These new insights might lend support for new therapeutic targets in this often chronic disorder, such as defining the right target weight, modifications of the refeeding process and the composition of the diet, non-bacterial dietary supplements and possibly the future use of pre- or probiotics.

This joins a growing collection of research showing a connection between nutrition and mental health.

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