advice, anxiety & mental health posts, my thoughts, nutrition, nutrition advice, Uncategorized

Gut bacteria and connection with eating disorders , anxiety, depression

Recently I have read a few articles regarding the research/study on gut bacteria (If you didn’t know we have both good and bad bacteria in our intestines and all together those can weigh up to 1,5kg… An interesting fact, for me anyway. For most others they find this information disturbing and something they would prefer to not know. But now you know and also to point out, that we need these bacteria to survive and be healthy. They have found correlations of “bad” bacteria and illnesses or lack of bacteria and illnesses, but then have a good gut bacteria improves health hence why it is recommended to take probiotics!).

My mum sent me a link to an article, but i couldnt find the actual article link she sent me so i did some of my own googling and found THIS article which was pretty much the same thing and talks about a study done to see the gut bacteria of those who suffered with anorexia and those who were healthy. And what they found is that those who had anorexia had much less bacteria in their intestines – most likely due to the fact that they were eating so little and non varied and so many of the bacteria died out, but then when the patients had gained weight and been eating enough and varied the bacteria flora improved but not as much as it was as the healthy people.

For a long time my mum has talked about how important gut bacteria is and ive always been given probiotic, however i have also taken ALOT of antibiotics in my life. During most of my childhood i was almost constantly on some form of antibiotics either orally or through an IV. And at times ive had to take antibiotics almost every month or second month…. and that does alot of damage on the gut bacteria and can take up to 6 months after just a 2 week antibiotic dose to get back to a healthy gut bacteria again. However antibiotics do help so its not something you should avoid if you need it, but taking it unnecessarily isnt a good idea, and also making sure to take plenty of probiotics before, during and after the dose.

And then there is also the question about how much antibiotics are people consuming unknowingly from the animal products they consume. There are regulations about how much antibiotics can be given to live stock and the amount has to be below a certain amount to be allowed to sell as “food”… however, the farmers just want “healthy” animals to kill and sell as meat. There isn’t so much studies about how the antibiotics used in agriculture is affecting humans, however there is more news that there is a rise in antibiotic resistance which is a rather terrifying thing if people start to become resistant to antibiotics. You can read more HERE

In school recently we talked about the gut-brain axis and how bacteria in the intestines can impact and affect the brain and cause issues such as depressive thinking, more prone to anxiety and might even be a cause of an eating disorder.

I’ve been skeptical… but it also makes a lot of sense. I.e if we eat the right food and plenty of fiber which is healthy (in the right amount) it will also feed the gut bacteria. I.e good nutrition plays a HUGE role in how you feel. It impacts thoughts, mood, skin, hair, energy and pretty much everything else in the body.

However if you eat alot of junk food and processed food it can kill out the gut bacteria which might cause more tiredness, negative thinking and an imbalance in the body which can cause you to eat less or keep eating junk food which in turn makes it worse. Or for example if you have an eating disorder and don’t eat alot, then the gut bacteria dont get any food and will die out as well which in turn can cause more negative thinking, more anxiety and depression. So it all sort of hangs together…. however the question is whether its depression/an eating disorder/anxiety that makes the gut bacteria die out/lessen or whether it’s that a person already has fewer gut bacteria which in turn causes the illness….

You can read more about studies and the link of gut bacteria and anorexia
HERE (read this one if you are interested)
Abstract of a study HERE
Another article talking more about this topic

It is very interesting to read about and one of the conclusions is that good nutrition is key but also that probiotics should be a part of everyone’s diet.

There is also studies about how gut bacteria can affect/be the cause of depression, but more studies on humans need to be done.
You can read more:

HERE
HERE
HERE
Article in more “simple wording”

There is also the theory that in the western world everything is too “clean” i.e people aren’t as exposed to different bacteria and such which in turn can cause autoimmune illnesses. I’ve always grown up being told that “a little dirt never harmed anyone” and also that as a child, growing up around animals can actually make the immune system stronger as you are more exposed to bacteria which makes the immune system have something to fight against and get stronger. But on the other side ive also been told that i need to stay away from as much dirt and bacteria as possible because of my CF (Cystic Fibrosis) and wasnt even allowed to hoover or sleep on a mattress on the floor because of the bacteria i might be exposed to.

Basically, not all bacteria is bad.

Gut bacteria has also been linked to weight control and that people who are obese have a different variety and type of gut bacteria compared to people who are slim and can maintain their weight effortlessly….. you can read more about a study done on this HERE

There are also plenty of articles and studies showing that the way you are born and whether you are breast fed or not impacts your gut bacteria which later can impact your health status, i.e whether you are more prone to different illnesses not to mention how you maintain your weight. I.e for some people, because they were born from a C section and never breast fed can be one of the causes for weight gain in the future according to some studies.

A variety and abundance of different gut bacteria is often found in the healthiest of people which is why HEALTHY AND VARIED FOOD is key. That is basically the summary of it all…. are you eating restrictively, eating alot of junk food, not eating alot of fiber? This can all affect your gut bacteria which can then affect your brain and thoughts and lead to other negative impacts. So dont just live on broccoli, dont just live on rice and chicken, dont just live on oreos and burgers… it’s all about the balance and variety. But also eating enough is key, eating enough to maintain your weight… the less you eat the less fuel for the gut bacteria.

I feel like i could write so much more about this as it is a very interesting topic and hope for more studies about this in the future (which i know there will be.) But just keep in mind – eat varied, eat healthy, supplement with a probiotic and dont be scared of a little dirt (ohh… and maybe cut down on animal products would also be a recommendation!!).


Photo from: HERE

Your brain and your digestive system are intricately linked. They interact so closely that some say they should be taken as one system. The link is the vagus nerve, a direct neuronal connection between the gut and the brain. It turns out the gut can bidirectionally communicate with the brain via the vagus nerve, known as the gut–brain axis. Not only does an individual’s microbiome affect overall health and disease, but also can impact mental health. Anger, anxiety, stress, sadness and excite...:

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