Why is this important?
Gut Microbiota in Anorexia Nervosa and Atypical Anorexia – the effects of nutritional rehabilitation on gut microbiota, or ‘The ReGut Study’ for short, will explore how nutritional rehabilitation procedures for Anorexia Nervosa and Atypical Anorexia may effect gut microbiota. This is an important relationship to explore for a couple of reasons. Firstly, recent evidence has shown the gut microbiome to be important in weight regulation, appetite, gut function, mood and anxiety, and behaviour – all of which can be compromised in these eating disorders. And secondly, the key focus of inpatient rehabilitation programs is often weight restoration (i.e. weight gain) through high-energy diets, which may overlook how foods may affect the gut microbiota. Finally, Anorexia Nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder and we still don’t fully understand the pathogenesis of this disorder.
How are we doing this study?
For this study, we will recruit two groups of 40 volunteers, one group of patients and one group of healthy controls. The patient group will be made up of people living with a diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa or Atypical Anorexia, and who are receiving treatment for their disorder at an inpatient’s treatment facility. We will follow this patient group and collect data throughout their treatment, as well as following them up a few months after they finish treatment. The control group will be people with general good health (and no eating disorder) and will provide data only once so that we can compare our findings from the patient group to a healthy population.
We will be collecting a range of questionnaire and biological data from all our participants. Questionnaires will gather a broad range of general health, lifestyle, diet, physical and mental health data. The gut microbiota will be will be measured by collecting stool samples and analysing these.
What are we hoping to find?
Considering the huge role dietary restriction plays in this disorder, understanding what’s going on in the gut could be really important to informing future nutritional treatments and trials. We’re hopeful that findings from The ReGut Study will identify if and how the gut microbiota of people living with these disorders differs from healthy people, and what happens to the gut microbiota during treatment. Depending on what we find, we may then be able to use these results to inform novel nutritional rehabilitation programs, or even interventions.