Do you know nutrition?: Bulimic syndrome results in extreme vitamin, mineral deficiencies

Jan. 24, 2012 at midnight
Updated Jan. 23, 2012 at 7:24 p.m.

By Phylis Canion

I am very sad to learn that a family member has been diagnosed with an eating disorder called bulimia. I am not very knowledgeable about eating disorders and do not have a computer to research it. The family appreciates any information you can share.

Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by episodes of uncontrolled binge eating, quite frequently involving large amounts of high calorie foods, followed by induced vomiting or the use of laxatives to "purge" the body of the food just eaten.

This process is usually done in secrecy. James F. Balch, M.D., states that bulimia can lead to ulcers, internal bleeding, hypoglycemia, a ruptured stomach, kidney damage, erratic heartbeat, cessation of menstrual cycle, low pulse rate and low blood pressure.

In addition, the stomach acid, produced by frequent vomiting, often causes tooth decay and a chronically sore throat. Episodes of bingeing and purging are quite often associated with a stressful event.

Although health care professionals believed that bulimia was solely psychological in nature, it is now understood that chemical imbalances and accompanying nutritional deficiencies may be the leading cause of eating disorders.

It is important to be aware of stressful situations and try to avoid them when possible, encourage healthier behaviors and eat a well-balanced diet. It is most important to listen to the body's needs and avoid processed foods, junk foods, sodas, and diet or lite foods.

Eliminate completely refined sugars, for example cookies, cakes, candy, caffeine and alcohol. Proper hydration of water and taking multivitamins daily is essential since the bulimic syndrome results in extreme vitamin and mineral deficiencies in most situations.

While bulimia nervosa is usually associated with binge and purge behavior and typically occurs in women in their 20s, another eating disorder known as anorexia nervosa, more common in teenagers, is the intense fear of gaining weight.

For those suffering from anorexia, those individuals simply avoid eating and exercise excessively. Both of these disorders focus on obsession with thinness, although anorexics display noticeable thinness and bulimics usually maintain a healthy weight.

Thought for the week: Cry with someone - it's more healing than crying alone.

Call 361-576-2100 to sign up for the next free nutrition class scheduled for Feb. 13 at the Organic Emporium.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant, email her at This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.



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