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Food: Its to Die For

Thin, stringy hair, brittle purple tinted finger nails, dark sunken eyes, and dry, yellow tinged skin: feel beautiful yet? Eating disorders don’t just affect the weight of their victims, but their appearance, internal health, and most importantly their mind. Eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa stem from the brain rather than direct connections to media and social pressure. The routines developed from sufferers of eating disorders are inexplicable; they aren’t easily formed from plain insecurities. Bulimics fall into habits of spontaneous vomiting without a forced effort in a response to food. Therefore, unfortunate issues of the brain are what ultimately lead to eating disorders.

Primarily, it is believed that the pressure to be thin comes from skinny models and celebrities. Standards of the average woman or even man from these stars appear to be the reason that many young men and women develop eating disorders. Granted, self-esteem is put to the test the most in the teen and young adult periods of life, but even so, hormones and chemicals are the real triggers of eating disorders. A hormonal imbalance during puberty could impair the hypothalamus, a portion of the brain that regulates blood sugar, blood pressure, temperature, and heart rate. When the level of blood sugar is low, the hypothalamus sends a signal of hunger to the brain. When hormones disrupt the chemistry of the hypothalamus, the feeling of hunger is distorted. The disturbances of the hypothalamus trigger eating disorders in teens, and the though media is starting to become a role in teens’ lives at this time, it isn’t the real initiator of the disorder. Similarly, causes of eating disorders were believed not only to come from media, but from pressures and anxiety in social situations. The insecurities developed from school popularity and acceptance isn’t the true causes of eating disorders, but just added struggles the victims face. The disorders evolve from brain mutations and chemicals. Anorexics and bulimics have been found to have abnormal levels of the chemical serotonin. Serotonin regulates feelings of overall wellness, health, and appetite. With mutations in the amount of serotonin anorexics and bulimics have, the understanding of appetite is changed to an unhealthy level. In bulimics, low levels of serotonin, which intensify during episodes of binging, make the person feel better. On the contrary, if too much serotonin is present, this may create a sense of anxiety and by reducing intake of calories to starvation, there would be or sense of control. In other words, those with low or high levels of serotonin may feel "driven" towards eating or not eating as they consciously or subconsciously realize it actually makes them feel better emotionally, because of a physical response in their brain. Therefore, the large amount of teens and young adults developing eating disorders is linked to the actual hormones and chemicals changing, not due to the growth in media interests and pressures. Furthermore, genetics also play a role in the causes of eating disorders. Though it seems society has more acceptances to those with a thin frame, the societal pressure is not what really causes eating disorders. From the genes received from their parents are some alterations to bodily make-ups that may lead to the development of an eating disorder. Chromosome one, made of genes inherited from parents, is at risk at deformation that can cause eating disorders. Being one of the largest human chromosomes, it is linked to the development of over 900 other diseases, including Alzheimer’s and breast cancer. In addition to being linked with health and personality issues, chromosome one is also associated with traits such as a strain to be thin, perfectionism and obsessive-compulsive behavior. So, with imperfections in the body, parents could possibly pass down an impaired chromosome that can cause eating disorders like any other uncontrollable disease that forms. Also, treatments for eating disorders usually include therapy. The reason therapy is most common is that eating disorders are considered psychological and need attention more toward the emotional aspect of the disorder. This usually leads to difficult rehabilitation. Contrarily, medications have been found to greatly improve the statuses of eating disorder patients. Medication hasn’t been developed enough to completely cure an eating disorder, however, medications have helped control urges to binge/purge or manage obsessions with food. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications also help with symptoms of depression or anxiety, which associate with eating disorders. SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are medications that have been found to suppress the feelings of control over food and even prevent relapse in treatments. With a direct connection to the serotonin released in the body, medications are an obvious clue that eating disorders aren’t just strange habits but an uncontrollable physical issue. Additionally, Naltrexone mutes starvation chemicals and feelings. The believed “addictive behavior” isn’t what is being cured but the damage to the brain eating disorders come from. Also, if medications are found to help cases of Anorexia and Bulimia, these disorders couldn’t be forced or decided upon to have. Ultimately, eating disorders are not the choice of the victim or a terrible habit, but an uncontrollable genetic disorder.

In conclusion, eating disorders are a hormonal/chemical dysfunction that many unfortunate people must face. Genetics, the hypothalamus, and serotonin are just small parts in the many causes of disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. Unlike the common belief that it is the choice of the person to follow the paths of eating disorders, Anorexia and Bulimia are completely uncontrollable and take years to cure.



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