According to new research, only half of people dealing with eating disorders fully recover and go on to have a ‘normal’ relationship with eating and their bodies. This goes to show that conventional treatments are failing many patients—most of these patients being females. That being said, one specific area in which conventional treatment has failed is the treatment of the gut microbiome.
What About the Gut?
We already know that the gut microbiome—the balance of bacteria in the gut—and a person’s mood are closely related. However, new research shows us that the gut microbiome also plays a role in the behavioral aspects of eating disorders.
Emerging research indicates that individuals with anorexia have a lower diversity of gut bacteria than healthy individuals. The less diverse the gut microbiome, the higher the rates of depression and anxiety. Similarly, as a patient recovered, their gut bacteria—and their overall mood—improved.
Researchers are now looking into how targeted probiotics can help with the physical and emotional upheavals of anorexia recovery. Although eating disorders are extremely complicated and require intensive therapeutic approaches, it’s important to be mindful of strategies to support the brain and the gut microbiome.
Getting the Guts: What Can You Do?
Addressing eating disorders is a careful balance of treating both the mind and the body. Prioritizing nutrition is a fundamental building block that has the power to bring healing both mentally and physically. So, when you feel better physically, your mental state will become more positive. When your mental state becomes more positive, you will gain more motivation to prioritize your physical health. And of course, treating the gut is a great way to improve physical and mental health if you are recovering from an eating disorder.
To focus on gut health in the aftermath of an eating disorder, you can start with these tips:
- Keep blood sugar stable
- Focus on whole foods
- Eat plenty of diverse vegetables
- Eat small, frequent meals that include protein
- Support neurotransmitters
Let’s talk about that last point. The neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine play a major role in eating disorders. The balance of these mood-regulating neurotransmitters can be seriously impacted by under-eating, overeating, or purging. Balance your dopamine and serotonin levels with supplements such as probiotics, magnesium, and methyl B-12. For more reading about dopamine, click here.
Recovering from an eating disorder is a journey best taken alongside understanding, supportive people. You don’t have to go through this journey alone, and you also don’t have to go through it burdened by conventional treatment. Ask our office how we can support you or someone you know who may be struggling with an eating disorder.
“A rose can never be a sunflower, and a sunflower can never be a rose. All flowers are beautiful in their own way, and that’s like women, too. I want to encourage women to embrace their own uniqueness.” – Miranda Kerr