Anorexia: the gut microbiota pathway?
What if anorexia nervosa, which still kills between 5–16% of patients, was linked to a bacterium in our gut microbiota: Roseburia? Or rather to the absence of this bacterium. A new and promising treatment under consideration?
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Seeing yourself as fat when you are thin (body dysmorphia), and panicking at the idea of gaining just an ounce in weight: these are the main characteristics of anorexia nervosa. But what if the gut microbiota were involved?
between 5–16% anorexia nervosa, still kills between 5–16% of patients
Roseburia: bacteria that are never there...
Several studies have tried to assess the involvement of the gut microbiota in this condition, with differing results. In order to clarify the matter, one team carefully scrutinized data from three earlier studies comparing the composition of the gut microbiota in anorexic patients vs. healthy controls. The results? Only bacterial species belonging to the Roseburia genus were in short supply in the anorexic patients. And nothing seemed to be able to change this state of affairs. Not even hospital treatment leading to an improvement in patient condition, not even weight gain - these bacteria remained less abundant and less diversified in anorexic patients. Something that suggests that these gut bacteria may play a role in the initiation of the disease..... dispelling the hypothesis that their reduction could have been a consequence of the disease.
The gut microbiota
...with health capital
Well, Roseburia are allies for our health in our gut microbiota: by breaking down the fibers that our digestive system has not digested, they produce (sidenote: Short chain fatty acids (SCFA) Short chain fatty acids (SCFA) are a source of energy (fuel) for an individual’s cells. They interact with the immune system and are involved in communication between the intestine and the brain. Silva YP, Bernardi A, Frozza RL. The Role of Short-Chain Fatty Acids From Gut Microbiota in Gut-Brain Communication. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2020;11:25. ) . These small fatty acids are known to regulate inflammation and to maintain the equilibrium of our gut functions: thanks to them, our epithelial barrier is strengthened and our colonic transit is correctly regulated. And that’s not all: the beneficial effect of Roseburia is thought to extend beyond just our digestive health, since its presence seems to go hand in hand with an improvement in several health markers of our bodies, such as the concentration of triglycerides, prealbumin, and iron in our blood, for example. And as the cherry on the cake, although this point has yet to be confirmed: Roseburia could also help us to have a positive outlook on life, since its depletion is associated with the depressive symptoms often observed among anorexics.
Something that offers a glimmer of hope when facing this multifactorial disease, with frequent relapses and which can sometimes have a fatal outcome due to the complications and suicides often associated with the condition.
More to follow