Importance of treating malnutrition

Although malnutrition and eating disorders go hand-in-hand, EDs aren't the only conditions that are frequently accompanied by malnutrition. Cancer is, too, with up to 87% of cancer patients becoming malnourished at some point during treatment.

A new study looks at the relationship between malnutrition and the psychological distress experienced by cancer patients. The 213 cancer patients were taking part in a nutrition rehabilitation program, and were asked to rate their psychological distress on a scale of 0 (no distress) to 10 (high distress). Researchers found a significant correlation between malnutrition and distress: the higher the distress, the greater the malnutrition.

"Our data suggest that nutrition status may contribute to the level of distress in patients with cancer," Dr Amdouni says. "Evaluation of the nutrition status should be included in the evaluation of distress experienced by these patients."

The connection between malnutrition and psychological distress in cancer patients seems somewhat obvious, and lots of people are (hopefully) going to coax the cancer patient into eating and improving their nutritional status, which will then improve their psychological distress.

So why is the same thing so controverisal and seemingly unorthodox among ED patients? Why is it that people don't flat-out say: of course you're depressed and feel like crap. You're not eating properly! Instead, hours of therapy and thousands of dollars are spent trying to make you feel better in the hopes that you might eat. Of course, one meal isn't a cure. One meal won't make you feel better.

Brain tumor or brain disease, nutrition is important.

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Kim said...

Very interesting. I think so many of us get stuck in navel-gazing, thinking about our disease and our depression, when really it's not all THAT complicated. Eating helps A LOT.

Ai Lu said...

I'd like to say that (regular) eating can also help for bulimia, although that might seem ironic: people who binge and purge put their bodies through so much stress and strain, and the kinds of foods that they choose to eat are often ones that change blood sugar levels in significant ways. Plus, people with bulimia often restrict their food intake when they are not binging, in order to compensate for their binges -- putting a little more order to one's eating schedule can do wonders to reduce the urge to binge.
Speaking from experience,
Ai Lu

Carrie Arnold said...

You're right- I didn't intend for this post to be anorexia-specific. I hope it didn't seem that way.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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