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IBS, ME etc and the gut

(19 Posts)
Laura812 Sun 24-Apr-16 12:00:26

This is interesting in today's Telegraph and is consistent with my own views on the importance of the gut and its bacteria:

"Anorexia may be caused by bacterial infection, say scientists

Anorexia may be caused by bacteria which confuse the immune system, leading it to attack the brain and trigger feelings of personal disgust, scientists have suggested

The theory is the first time that the eating disorder has been linked to a physical infection, in contrast to the traditional view which blames psychological, environmental and social factors.

Experts from Lancaster University and Morecambe Bay NHS Trust also believe that Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) have similar pathologies.

They say it ‘stretches credibility’ to think that such serious conditions are simply the result of mental trauma or psychosocial problems.

The researchers point to the fact that women are far more susceptible to auto-immune diseases – such as pernicious anaemia – where the body’s own immune system begins to attack healthy cells.

Likewise women are around ten times more likely to suffer from anorexia, IBS and CFS suggesting the cause may be similar.

Dr Quenton Wessels, of Lancaster University, said the diseases begin when the body encounters a certain bacteria and switch on an immune response which accidentally begins to attack healthy parts of the body.

“It’s really a case of misidentification,” he said. “The immune system responds to something that is foreign by producing an antibody which then attacks something else.

“Auto-antibodies acting on the brain’s limbic system could induce extremes of emotion including disgust and fear.

“These then become linked, in the minds of adolescent girls, to culturally determined ideas of what is, and what is not, the ideal body shape and size. It is then a small step for disgust and fear to be directed to food and obesity which the fashion industry currently demonizes.

“We think specific bacteria is setting it off. It is almost like the microbes within you can determine you mood, which is profound in itself.”
A man clutches his stomacn
Irritable Bowel Syndrome affects millions of people in Britain, but the cause is unknown Credit: Alamy

Around 750,000 people in Britain suffer from an eating disorder and around 75,000 from anorexia. Some seven million people in Britain have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, while 250,000 have been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or ME.

Previous research has suggested that IBS and CFS may have a bacterial origin. The onset of IBS commonly follows an episode of infectious diarrhoea while chronic fatigue syndrome can be triggered by infectious mononucleosis and viral hepatitis.

Writing in the journal Medical Hypotheses, Dr Jim Morris from the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust, Dr Sue Broughton and Dr Wessels from Lancaster University said current explanations for why the diseases occur are unsatisfactory. “Psychological factors might be important, but are unconvincing as the primary or major cause,” they write.

“There might, for instance, be an increased incidence of physical and sexual abuse in childhood in those who go on to manifest functional disorders.

“It is easy to see how this could influence symptoms in adults but it stretches credulity to imagine abuse as the sole and sufficient cause of the functional disorder.”

When the immune system attacks the brain it may make people feel disgusted with themselves Credit: Alamy

If proven, the fascinating hypotheses opens up new avenues for medication and potentially cures for disorders which have, historically, proven difficult to treat. For example, transfusing immune cells from the blood of healthy people could help reverse the most severe cases of anorexia.

Changing bacteria in the gut to remove the original source could also calm down IBS and CFS.

Now the team want to test their theory on animal models to find out if they can spot the bacteria responsible.

Dr Wessels added: “If we can isolate the culprits perhaps we can restore the correct bacterial balance. We hope to move into the lab over the summer, and hopefully have an answer by the end of the year.”

A study published last week suggested that anorexia was more prevalent in single sex girls schools and may be socially contagious if not physically contagious.

Psychiatrist Dr Jeffrey Liberman, director of the New York State Psychiatric Institute said: "What makes people develop eating disorders is still unknown. As to whether it could be socially contagious, I think the answer is yes."

The new research was welcomed by charities.

Andrew Radford , the Chief Executive of eating disorder charity Beat, said: “Beat welcomes any new research which might add to our knowledge of the causes of and triggers for eating disorders.

“Anorexia nervosa claims more lives than any other mental illness, and eating disorders cost the UK economy over £16 billion a year, so the need for more knowledge and better treatment is acute.

“While the cause of an eating disorder is still unknown, current evidence suggests that they result from a genetic predisposition triggered by a particular event in the sufferer’s life. We look forward to hearing more as this research strand is pursued further.” "

claig Sun 24-Apr-16 12:04:23

Thanks, that is fascinating, there have been quite a few articles appearing lately about the gut and immune system etc. about other conditions as well.

Laura812 Sun 24-Apr-16 12:38:53

Yes, even how we feel and our emotions may in part result from what is in the gut and of course the food we eat.

I remember when I had a post viral weakness for about 4 weeks how very very physical I was sure it was, nothing to do with in the mind. I felt so happy and positive and yet even going to the children's school was a massive effort and I knew then how frustrating it must be for people with ME etc to be told it's in the mind. Thankfully for me I got completely better in about 4 weeks.

claig Sun 24-Apr-16 12:56:17

Yes, the gut is linked to the brain with all the nerve endings etc. We also feel with our gut, it affects our emotions, which is why we say "gut feel". It is the centre of a lot of what goes on.

Laura812 Sun 24-Apr-16 13:56:16

I am sure that is so.

claig Sun 24-Apr-16 14:06:44

Lots of stuff on youtube about it - leaky gut syndrome, certain foods and medicines that kill the good bacteria that help digestion and foods that help the good bacteria. Haven't looked into it enough, but it is very important for health.

Katymac Sun 24-Apr-16 18:47:37

In Sweden they test a stool sample first when diagnosing any AI - my brother has RA

VertigoNun Sun 24-Apr-16 23:50:50

There is already a link between other conditions often misdiagnosed as those you linked to. Gastroparesis, bacterial overgrowth and PoTS.

PuttingouthefirewithGasoline Mon 25-Apr-16 16:35:17

so what can we do to help our gut

claig Mon 25-Apr-16 16:54:34

What I have heard is that sauerkraut, Greek yogurt, artichokes etc are good. There is lots of stuff on youtube all about it. From discussions I have heard on youtube, things like bran are not good. But I haven't looked into it enough. Should do really because I am sure there is a lot to this.

'The worst thing for a significant number of IBS patients is fibre, particularly bran,' he says. 'While eating more fibre undoubtedly helps to sort out mild constipation, it's rarely helpful for severe IBS symptoms. It won't help diarrhoea

megletthesecond Mon 25-Apr-16 17:10:30

yy claig (never thought I'd say that wink).

The blanket advice to eat more fibre can be disastrous for IBS sufferers. Left me living in the toilet at times. Am now gluten free (consultant advice) and 90% better.

claig Mon 25-Apr-16 17:14:13

Great stuff, megletthesecond. I am pleased you got off it.

The more we learn, the more it seems as if we have been given incorrect advice by our great and good on quite a few dietary issues. Thank God for freedom and youtube and the internet so that we can educate ourselves to some extent.

Laura812 Mon 25-Apr-16 17:19:17

I'm not ill so not the best person to comment on particular conditions but for me eating as mankind ate for 1m years it not too bad a route to go down. I eat paleo and a lot of fish, eggs, veg etc - alkali foods are good too. Avoid all the junk stuff which most people eat including the 60% of Britons who are overweight.

Avoiding C sections where you can help that is good too as the baby then has your good bacteria from the point of birth. If you have the C section get it covered in your bacteria as soon as it emerges if you can. Obviously I am not saying have no C sections though as they save lives in many cases.

Some people do faecal transplants but as I'm not ill I wouldn't need or want to do that and I don't eat junk food. and am hardly ever ill which is probably due to how I eat.

Katymac Mon 25-Apr-16 20:01:49

Somewhere (I heard it on radio 4 I think) they are swabbing babies who were born by CS with their mothers vaginal secretions as a trial to help with this

strongswans Mon 25-Apr-16 20:33:52

I find this very interesting and will look at the article further tomorrow as well as the research. I myself have suffered severely with anorexia and now have severe stomach issues and fatigue.

Skullduggeryfizz Mon 25-Apr-16 20:49:38

I can thoroughly recommend a book called Gut by Giulia Enders. A fascinating but down to earth book.

specialsubject Mon 25-Apr-16 20:50:18

Eating well is obviously good . but sorry to tell laura it is no guarantee against many illnesses. If only.

Laura812 Mon 25-Apr-16 21:11:15

Katy, I've read tjat tpp. It's fascinating that in so many areas nature has benefits we never thought of and as we move away from that we lose hidden protections we never knew about (like all the good stuff in breastmilk no one used to know about too). I am not saying no C sections or formula feeding for anyone but just that people pause because they move to something we were not adapted for without thinking of the consequences and I agree that you can be ill even if you eat well. However it can help improve the odds and also it can help you get better in some cases if you eat well. it is not entirely good luck I've been to my GP about once in 12 years.

CFSKate Tue 26-Apr-16 08:37:34

UK GUT MICROBIOTA RESEARCH, A Role for a Leaky Gut and the Intestinal Microbiota in the Pathophysiology of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, The UK Gut Microbiota Research project aims to find whether there is evidence of a leaky gut in ME patients.

3rd June London ME conference

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