Home Healthy Lifestyle How eating disorders affect digestion and gut health

How eating disorders affect digestion and gut health


Every complex ating (ED) disorder; recovery, even more so. Not only can they be difficult to treat, but eating disorders (unlike some other mental health conditions) affect the body as well as the mind. I personally experienced this, and I had to heal all of myself in order to fully recover – including, surprisingly, my gut.

Throughout the treatment programs I have met with urinary incontinence survivors, those who require a low-fiber diet, or who have been under their doctor’s care for severe constipation. While my GI symptoms didn’t seriously affect my everyday life, I still needed a prescription for nausea and acid reflux medication.

Research shows that I’m not alone. Up to 98% of people with an eating disorder meets the criteria for functional digestive disorders (FGIDs), that condition Affects the functioning of any part of the digestive tract. The The most common in ED survivors is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), one all for digestive concerns does not meet the criteria for conditions such as Crohn’s disease or inflammatory bowel disease.

Digestive conditions can have many causes, but for people with ED, Their symptoms and habits over time can damage the entire digestive tract. Limiting eating, drinking too much, avoiding food groups and washing up – whether through laxatives or vomiting – can all be harmful to your digestion. Even if you are not diagnosed with an adequate eating disorder, the cycle of restriction / intoxication often caused by a chronic diet can be harmful.

How eating disorders can affect your gut

Pediatric gastroenterologist Mario Taño, MD, has seen the damage that eating disorders can do to patients – even young children. He said that when a person restricts their food intake (as with many disruptive forms of eating), the gut immediately suffers. “We have two types of organs in the body: the important organ and the non-important organ,” he said. Your heart, lungs and kidneys are considered “important” (meaning you can’t live without them), while organs like the organs in the digestive tract are considered less. “If you don’t give yourself the right calories, there will be a priority for the nutrients and they will go to the vital organs first.” Essentially, severe food restrictions will starve your gut, which can lead to serious health problems.

Additionally, not eating enough foods in general, or cutting down on certain food groups, can break down the bacteria that’s good for your stomach, says Philadelphia-based nutritionist. Theresa Shank, RD. This microbial imbalance can affect a person’s immune system and may contribute to your symptoms. IBS or IBD.

According to Dr. Taño, behaviors like restricting or fasting can lead to paralysis of the gastric place the stomach no longer contracts properly to break down food, delay digestion. Reflux may manifest as nausea or acid reflux after eating, or fullness after a meal. Malnourished This can affect this, as your body is trying to conserve nutrients for more important functions, such as your circulatory system.

Further studies show that patients with eating disorders are also at risk for more serious conditions such as Pancreatitis, ulcer, liver failure, colitis and fatty liver disease. These conditions are often the result of malnutrition, overeating, and consuming a lot of fatty foods (as can happen when eating well), and may be associated with anorexia, overeating, or confusion binge eating disorder (BED). Another lesser known effect of an eating disorder is pelvic floor dysfunctionThis is caused by chronic constipation combined with anorexia. Regularly trying to go to the bathroom can weaken the pelvic floor muscles.

How does the healing process work for the intestines

Additionally, many people with eating disorders experience IBS type symptoms even when they begin the recovery process. When GI problems arise during recovery, anxiety and stress are often the cause. And in these cases, symptoms can trigger disruptive behaviors, such as restricting food to soothe pain. “It’s quite common for a customer to express that they feel better getting rid of X, or X is bothering their stomach so they avoid that. This often leads to a vegan or a gluten-free or sugar-free lifestyle, ”said the clinical psychologist Jaime Coffino, PhD, MPH. However, these decisions can prolong a person’s illness, and should only be made upon full recovery. Dr. Coffino often explains to clients: “There will be many times during treatment that they do not feel comfortable or anxious. We [the treatment team] explain that eating food makes them feel better, and avoiding food increases that anxiety ”.

Incorporating problems for people with eating disorders is how the health care profession often tackles intestinal problems in the first place. In many cases, doctors often advise people with intestinal health problems to recommend a diet to eliminate foods that may cause irritation. (For example, IBS suspects often FODMAP diet prescriptions, having the devotees cut out specific food groups known to activate IBS, then slowly reassemble them one at a time, to eliminate the annoying group). However, these procedures are inherently restrictive, often applied without taking into account the reality of the eating disorder – which Shank said could undermine the treatment of the eating disorder of the patient. “Eating disorders and bowel problems last long because of the root cause – eating disorders – never properly treated, but worse,” she said.

Instead of immediately following the diet, Shank recommends that physicians treating ED patients with intestinal health problems “focus on the need to eliminate certain foods and instead Is educating customers on how they can supplement with foods that are healthy and gluten-free, without refined sugars, or whatever they believe could be the culprit of digestive problems. [The treatment team] try to identify any disturbing behaviors and help the client resolve them, as this will most likely resolve their GI symptoms. “Dietary foods” should be eliminated and made a food variety. “

The good news about digestive disorders related to eating disorders is they are often reversible. If you are navigating recovery and are concerned about your gut health, a certified dietitian or a primary care physician with knowledge of eating disorders will Be your first stop, not the influencer pushing the Whole30. For me, getting rid of food was not the solution to my gut health problems. I had to work with the experts to manage anxiety and go back to eating the foods I liked, and my gut thanked me for that.

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