Wednesday, 13 May 2015

BB - Brain and Behaviour: How the Brain Can Predict ED Behaviours

Remember this post that summarized some things I have blogged about on ED and brain changes or findings? Well, now we have a new addition to the list. This study, recently published, explored the relationship between the loss of a certain gene and similar 'ED-like' behaviours that follow. (For those interested in scientific terms, the loss of a gene is also known as a mutation). See
this link for a summary of this study.

The researchers looked at mice and an estrogen-related receptor alpha. or ESRRA. By the way, don't worry about the name of the gene - that's not as important as the results of the study. The loss of ESRRA caused the mice to have less motivation to find and consume high-fat foods, despite being hungry. In a previous study, researchers found that individuals with anorexia also show decreased levels of ESRRA in their brains. What does this tell us?

Well, think about it. Low ESRRA caused mice to not have enough motivation or desire to seek out and eat high-fat foods. What would this mean for individuals with low levels of ESRRA? The same thing! This may help to explain why people with anorexia don't want to - or are not able to - eat when hungry. Their brains literally aren't allowing them to, their brains aren't giving them the normal 'signal' or motivation to look for and eat food.

But wait, there's more. The study also found that the levels of ESRRA are controlled by caloric intake. In mice, eating less than 60% of normal calories over a few days significantly decreased ESRRA levels in the brain - even in normal nice. What does this teach us?

Eating low calories = less ESRRA levels. So, applying this to people, even those without ED may develop ED-like symptoms if they reduce their caloric intake over a delayed time period. Now imagine someone who is already predisposed to ED because of a variety of other reasons. If this individual reduces their caloric intake, their risk for developing ED may very well be increased significantly. Usually, less nutritional or caloric intake causes humans to seek out foods, especially those that are high in calories. But low levels of ESRRA seem to make that response not work as well. The mice in the study weren't just not motivated - they actually put in much less effort to even get food, despite being hungry. Isn't it striking how similar this is to a person with ED: they are hungry. They feel hungry. Their stomachs are growling. And yet, they do not - cannot - eat.

Of course, it would be wonderful if we could say: 'low ESRRA cause theses behaviours. Let's just give patients with ED some ESRRA and then we would sole their problem!'. Well, it isn't that easy. Firstly, more studies need to be conducted to see who this applies to - do ALL people with ED have low ESRRA levels, or just some of them? Why? What are ways in which we can reverse this? Will a medication work? Does recovery restore ESRRA levels? What about people with low ESRRA that DO NOT develop an ED - why does this happen?

The thing with science is this: one question opens up a million others, and one answer does the same. While as of now, we don't have a 'cure' for anorexia (such as a magic pill or procedure), studies like these help us learn more about factors that may lead to the development and maintenance of ED. AND - one of my favourite things - these studies illustrate that EDs are a lot more complicated than we may want to believe. Patients aren't making up their symptoms, nor are they trying to be difficult. It is a mental illness, mediated by many factors, several of them perpetuated by changes in the brain, hormones, genes, and neurotransmitters.

For now, it is safe to say that there are some key things needed for recovery from ED: FOOD, enough calories, weight gain, therapy., and treatment of comorbid illnesses. This may mean using medications to control anxiety, depression, OCD, and more. It may also mean meal-planning, restricting activity, attending family-based therapy sessions, using cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT)  techniques, expressing emotions, and making a relapse-prevention plan. Oh, and we cannot forget some KEY things: time, patience, love, support, dedication, perseverance, and strength. And hope that recovery truly is possible.




48 comments:

  1. Yes
    When something bad happen to me ,I try to think how can I gather all tools to strengthen and defend my integrity and learn from this experience.

    With my humble respect

    Muhammad

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  2. Now Medical studies proven that ED not our own choice to starve ourselves but gene related and our job to challenge this and keep healthy.
    Trust me I learnt a lot about myself and now I know to protect myself from this ED when creeps on me like a snake .

    Anne

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  3. figure 2 tell us all about ED !!!!

    Helena

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  4. As a mother my concern not what caused but how to ward it off for good.
    Once again thanks Marina for guiding me to save my daughter from a serious disease before too late .

    JP a very thankful mother

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  5. Not my choice but I will fight ED as long as I am alive.

    Nanraj

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  6. No matter what caused the ED,I will stand strong and hard for any one struggling with any mental health issue or stressed out.

    McMenemy

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  7. Wonderful post tells us ED not a choice ,real illness with genes involved and needs team work together to treat ,likely long term commitment.
    Wonderful post Marina

    Mary
    Mississauga

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  8. Very detailed post to inform every body how this ED affecting the brains and genes and not just people choice .

    Josefina

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  9. We all need to use all our armamentaria to finish off this illness


    Sorina

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  10. Keep up your talented writing and your well searched posts.

    Zak

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  11. No body can say it better.

    HEALTH IS WEALTH.

    No money, position or job can give us happiness and worth more than health.

    Miroslav

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  12. It is very helpful when you explain details of complex human brain in simple English.
    Excellent educator, writer and talker Marina

    Kelly W

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  13. I am recovered for 7 years without relapse and I swear to God never meant to starve myself ever even I admit disease started when I was trying to lose weight but got out of control.
    I learnt to be aware of my health and body needs and to make priority for my wellbeing and by feeling well <I am achieving and successful in my life and able to handle daily stress much better.

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  14. Let me congratulate you for this well written helpful post.

    Colin

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  15. The pictures here are quite impressive and expressive .

    Blanchette

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  16. Very carefully well written educational post.
    Cheers

    Yara

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  17. Thumbs up to Marina excelelnt writer and educator


    Oswaldo

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  18. Thank you for raisng awareness about all mental illnesses and how they are as any disease never been a choice even though we all have responsibility to make any changes necssary to mange life stresses and maintain our health.

    Sorina

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  19. Very colorful picture that help laypersons understand the complex brain.


    Salvatore

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  20. Doctors, therapist and dietitian are best team to handle ED
    No one can say it better than you

    Marylyn

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  21. This is wonderful post
    Congratulations'


    Shalini

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  22. Yes marina
    This disease as any others ,not a choice but real disease with genes.
    I love your book

    Sndhi

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  23. excellent work


    Jenn
    Welland

    ReplyDelete
  24. I am blessed to be one of your readers


    Sorina

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  25. Your blog and writings especilly this post are always colorful and full of pictures and coomon qutaion that help entriguuing readers and make us undersatnd even hard medicial info.

    Yellin

    ReplyDelete
  26. You have a taleneted knowledigble brain.Good for you and God bless

    Parson

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  27. Anorexia is as serious but curable.
    You prove it
    Hey up

    Mepepa

    ReplyDelete
  28. I can not tell you how much changing my way of thinking help me in my feelings, sleep
    ,attitude and behaviours.
    Changing our thoughts is a cure for our stresses and boost to our life.
    Please urge your readers(and they are many) to changes thoughts to positives and only positives.

    With my humble respect

    Muhammad

    ReplyDelete
  29. You blog keep us going.!!!
    WOW

    Garcia

    ReplyDelete
  30. You set an example on how to conquer serious disease as ED.

    Kapoor

    ReplyDelete
  31. I agree with Kapoor ,your recovery and writing your experience and knowledge is very motivation to many

    Sung

    ReplyDelete
  32. It must be the genes
    So what force people to restrict if not a serious disease .
    No one can say it is self inflicted behaviour.


    Raja

    ReplyDelete
  33. wealth is not money ,job ,marriage or education.
    Wealth is our health, and feeling good about ourselves.

    Savana

    ReplyDelete
  34. Your talents and skills allow you to take a lead in your recovery from serious disease and to educate yourself and be pioneer and sharing and helping others.
    Thumbs up

    Solomon

    ReplyDelete
  35. If We just make sure our brain think of the positives and look for good stuffs ,we would have been the happiest and healthiest


    Sam Ibrahim
    77 Year old old
    Burnhamthorpe ,Mississauga

    ReplyDelete
  36. Anorexia never a choice or self inflicted .
    It is a serious blow and plague to humankind.

    Shiobhan

    ReplyDelete
  37. You taught us how to get strenth from any weakness
    Cheers

    Fady

    ReplyDelete
  38. Yes
    You changed all scars into stars shinng light not only for you but for others

    Kudos to Marina


    Hillary

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  39. You are making a big difference .
    I urge you to keep going

    Jack

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  40. No kidding this serious disease has roots and genes and needs lots of support and care .

    Dheda

    ReplyDelete
  41. Wonderful thoughts about this disease

    Salazar

    ReplyDelete
  42. I take my hat for this post

    Garcia

    ReplyDelete
  43. We all remember how you overcome a tough illness and came out tougher, stronger and well equipped to defend self and guide others

    Regalado

    ReplyDelete
  44. I love any thing you write
    Make lot of sense to me

    Hernandez

    ReplyDelete
  45. Who choose to be sick and suffer.
    You said and it is a mental serious disease and recovery is real

    Sally

    ReplyDelete
  46. You are right,ED is a serious disease and not a choice

    Pierrette

    ReplyDelete
  47. I love your style in writing

    Martino

    ReplyDelete
  48. Thank you so much everyone! I am so happy you enjoyed this post...it was one of my favourites! Thank you for all your support...you all make my days full of smiles!

    ReplyDelete

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