Repair and restoration of gut health should be at the forefront of mind when assisting patients with Anorexia Nervosa (AN) to regain health and extends to all forms of eatings disorders.
Understandably, AN takes a toll on the body, in more ways than the eye can see and the gastrointestinal tract takes an under appreciated hit. Current treatment strategies are focused on weight restoration through increased kilojoule intake in the quickest manner possible. However, whilst this plan is often successful for weight restoration it fails to address the significant cluster of health ramifications of AN. Getting kilojoules in is a necessary start, but actually having the resources to assimilate and digest the good from the food eaten is vital if full recovery is to be achieved.
I believe most nutrition focused health care practitioners overlook repair and restoration of gut health. When treating patients seeking to recover from AN gut health is a significant focus of my treatment plans and is the key to a full recovery – the regaining of both physical and mental health.
There is a growing body of research linking communication between the intestinal microbiota and brain (ie gut-brain-axis). In light of this and the fact individuals with AN often present with comorbid anxiety and/or depression further research into AN and the intestinal microbiota is being undertaken. Specifically, new research is looking at the microbiota composition in AN patients versus ‘healthy’ controls. Kleiman et al (2015) found patients with AN compared to ‘healthy’ controls have a less diverse microbiota composition before and after weight restoration. Interestingly, decreased microbiota diversity is associated with greater depression, greater weight concern, shape concern and overall eating disorder psychopathology. Furthermore, results also showed a trending towards a healthier microbiota composition during weight restoration.
Further research is required in this area but at least attention is being paid to the need for consideration of therapeutic approaches which aim to manage AN via an area often overlooked.
When treatment plans are not getting results, perhaps taking a look at gut health is the missing piece of the puzzle?
Enjoy! Casey Dick | Passionate Dedicated Natural Nutritionist | Brisbane, Australia, Dietary Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, Orthorexia, Restrictive Eating, Body image, Picky Eating, Mindful Eating, Non-Dieting Approach, Healthy Relationship With Food, Healthy Weight Maintenance, Body Dysmorphic Disorder.