NUTRITIONALANOREXIABULIMIARONASTRESSDIETZINCNUTRITIONFOOD THE NUTRITIONAL EXTREMES OF ANOREXIA & BULIMIA - Zoltan P. Rona
THE NUTRITIONAL EXTREMES OF ANOREXIA & BULIMIA by ZOLTAN P. RONA, M.D., M.Sc.
No one seems to know the cause of anorexia nervosa. It is generally assumed to be the result of social stresses causing adolescent girls (the condition is rare in boys) to avoid food entirely. It is both a psychological and physiological disorder in which the teenage girl seems to have abdicated all responsibility for the nourishment of her body. Since the mortality rate has been reported as high as 20%, anorexia nervosa is a very serious condition necessitating a multidisciplinary treatment approach which may include hospitalization. Death results from starvation, infections, heart rhythm disorders or suicide.
There is no specific personality type that is predisposed to anorexia nervosa. The average case may be depressed, anxious, weepy, agitated, hostile, underweight, constipated, amenorrheic (loss of periods) and suffer from a lowered self-esteem as well as cold hands and feet. An anorexic is typically preoccupied with avoiding food, has a decreased interest in sex, has a disturbed body image and a distorted hunger awareness.
One double-blind placebo controlled study suggests that zinc deficiency may play a role in causing anorexia nervosa. Most extreme weight reduction diets are low in zinc and, in the long run, lead to overt zinc deficiency. The birth control pill and certain steroid drugs cause the body to increase the excretion of zinc, so this too may be a factor in the development of a zinc deficiency. Additionally, the body's need for zinc during the rapid growth phases of adolescence are dramatically increased. Since zinc deficiency can cause a loss of appetite, researchers have postulated that what is happening in this disease is a vicious circle of zinc deficiency leading to appetite loss.