The Relationship Between Eating Conditions and Autoimmune Diseases

woman eating

Individuals suffering from eating disorders often suffer from other disorders, too. One such disorder that they often have to deal with is autoimmune diseases. But how do both disorders relate to each other?

To understand how eating disorders play a role in autoimmune diseases, we need first to understand the ramifications of eating disorders and autoimmune diseases. Listed below are the common health risks that affect people suffering from eating disorders or autoimmune diseases.

Common After Effects of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are a serious, possibly fatal mental condition that immensely affects a person’s physical and psychological health. It’s important to note that people suffering from eating disorders aren’t doing it for attention. Furthermore, individuals can’t contract eating disorders like traditional diseases. The exact cause of eating disorders isn’t known. However, doctors suggest that genetics and psychological health play a significant role in contracting eating disorders. Often, individuals suffering from an eating disorder experience the following.h

Purging by vomiting expels vital body fluids such as electrolytes, which in turn cause detrimental effects to both the cardiovascular system and the neurological system. Malnutrition can also decrease the production of white blood cells. These blood cells are vital for the body’s immune system as it fights and prevents infection from spreading.

These health risks vary from people with eating disorders and to what illness they’re suffering. Consequently, there are various types of eating disorders. These are bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, restrictive food intake disorder, and binge-eating disorder. Thankfully, there are treatments for individuals suffering from eating disorders. Most states have hospitals that help individuals plan for treating bulimia, anorexia, and other eating disorders.

Common Autoimmune Disorders

Autoimmune disorders cause either abnormally low or exceedingly high activity of the body’s immune system. If the immune system suffers from overactivity, the body will attack its tissues. On the other hand, immune deficiency hinders the body from fighting against the onslaught of viruses and bacteria, which in turn increases the chance of getting an infection or getting sick. Some examples of autoimmune 72% for disease and its health risks are:

  • Type 1 Diabetes. In this autoimmune disease, antibodies attack and destroy cells in the pancreas that produces insulin.
  • Celiac disease. This autoimmune disease prevents affected individuals from eating gluten by agitating the immune system in the presence of gluten. Thus, this damages the small intestine.

How Autoimmune Disorders Play A Role in Eating Disorders

The correlation between autoimmune disorders and eating disorders is noticeable. A recent study published at the American Academy of Pediatrics Selective Deposit has surveyed 930 977 people with their birth ranging between 1989 and 2006, in which 48.7% of them were girls and noticed the prevalence of eating disorders individuals with autoimmune diseases. The research shows that children and adolescents with autoimmune diseases have higher risks of developing eating disorders. Furthermore, the study has shown a 73% higher risk for individuals with bulimia nervosa, 36% for anorexia nervosa, and 72% for an unspecified eating disorder.

eating disorder

Furthermore, the relationship between autoimmune diseases and eating conditions was discussed in another research study published in 2019 in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Unlike the previous research, the study was found strong with women and autoimmune disorders. The study sampled over 2.5 million Swedish participants born between 1979 and 2005 with a period of follow-up that took from a month to more than 20 years. The research states that practitioners diagnosed 110,00 individuals from the original study group with some type of autoimmune disease while they diagnosed over 26,000 with some sort of eating disorder.

A research study detailing the bidirectional relationship between autoimmune diseases and eating disorders had an analysis that showed how women have a higher risk of suffering from anorexia nervosa when they also had a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, or Crohn’s disease.

Furthermore, there’s a higher risk of any eating disorder when previously diagnosed with celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, type 1 diabetes, as well as ulcerative colitis. Moreover, women diagnosed with an eating disorder experienced an elevated risk of contracting an autoimmune disease. The diagnosis for women with an eating disorder increased the chances of getting an autoimmune disease the next year by 114%. Lastly, the study states that being diagnosed with an eating disorder increased the chances of acquiring Crohn’s disease by 202% a year after getting diagnosed.

The Relationship Between Eating Conditions and Autoimmune Diseases

The research studies conducted regarding the topic have explicitly shown a correlation between autoimmune disease and eating conditions. Researches theorized that there might be an underlying factor that increases the chances of getting diagnosed with both illness types. Since it’s speculated that high production of cytokines and estrogen and low concentration of gut microbiota could be typical in individuals suffering from eating disorders, the mechanism could be immune function dysregulation.

Another mechanism could be environmental and behavioral factors. For instance, individuals who have celiac disease are forced to stick to refrain from gluten. As such, the individual’s dietary change can result in weight loss. Hence, it’s recommended to closely monitor people suffering from eating disorders because of their increased risk of getting autoimmune diseases.

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Medical Disclaimer

The information provided on this website is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. The content on the website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, treatment, or advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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