Gut Bacteria Imbalance Linked To Anorexia

People with anorexia may have differences in their gut bacteria that make them prone to certain psychological symptoms, according to a new study.

The research adds further evidence to the idea that gut microbiota – which is made up of trillions of bacteria – plays a significant role in the development of disease and overall health.

While researchers didn’t find that a gut bacterial imbalance directly causes anorexia symptoms, it could contribute to changes that cause depression, anxiety and further weight loss in people with the condition.

“Other studies have linked gut bacteria to weight regulation and behavior,” said Dr. Ian Carroll, senior author and assistant professor of medicine in the UNC Center for Gastrointestinal Biology and Disease. “Since people with anorexia nervosa exhibit extreme weight dysregulation, we decided to study this relationship further.”

Gut microbes can mediate weight

For the study, researchers examined fecal samples from 16 women with anorexia nervosa – once when they were admitted to an eating disorder center and then again after their weight was restored at discharge.

Carroll and her team found significant changes in gut bacteria between the first and second samples – the first sample had fewer types of bacteria, which made the microbiota less diverse.

Researchers also found that the improvement in microbial communities in anorexia patients was linked to improved mood.

To test the findings further, Carroll’s team will analyze how human gut bacteria samples from anorexia patients affect the biology and behavior of mice. These results might indicate whether or not microbiota therapy could be useful for people with anorexia.

“We’re not saying that altering gut bacteria will be the magic bullet for people with anorexia nervosa,” Carroll said. “Other important factors are at play, obviously. But the gut microbiota is clearly important for a variety of health and brain-related issues in humans. And it could be important for people with anorexia nervosa.”

Source: Medical Xpress

Eating Disorder Self Test. Take the EAT-26 self test to see if you might have eating disorder symptoms that might require professional evaluation. All answers are confidential.

Find a Treatment Facility Near You

Click on a state below to find eating disorder treatment options that could be right for you.

The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes and we encourage all visitors to see a licensed physician if they believe that they have an eating disorder. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.

Copyright © 2008-2018
Company Information

© 2018 All rights reserved. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of's terms of service and privacy policy. The material on this site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.