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The Science of Eating Disorders

Fitness and Metabolic Health

Fitness is not integrally related to weight, nor should it be limited to measures of cardiorespiratory capacity and endurance, which have dominated our ideas of fitness. A person's focus on blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood cholesterol levels is in response to a different concept of fitness. The above parameters (blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels) are the basics of a new definition of fitness which some call "metabolic fitness." Healthy bodies come in many shapes and sizes and we need to begin to view exercise and diet as more than just a means to an end (weight loss). People can be physically active, eat healthy foods, and not obsess about the numbers on the scale.

Hypercortisolemia

Cortisol is a hormone that the body creates in order to deal with stress and hypercortisolemia is simply the overproduction of cortisol. Basically, people who have hypercortisolemia are unable to shut off the stress response so they are constantly responding to stress differently than other people. High stress responses can come from many different sources such as traumatic events, busy lifestyles, or physically, emotionally or spiritually threatening situations. Stress responses are real and are typically out of the control of the person experiencing them.

The link between eating disorders and hypercortisolemia are best seen by examining the common symptoms present in both disorders: depression, anxiety, anorexia, bulimia, panic attacks, attention deficit, cognitive impairment, insomnia, hypothalamic amenorrhea, osteopenia, decreased immune functioning and decreased functioning of the intestinal tract.

At Mirasol, we treat the eating disorder as the symptom of a greater multidimensional stress related disorder. Therefore, we treat the whole person so that the psychological (high risk model of threat perception) and physical (hypercortisolemia) stress responses are brought to conscious awareness and treated through stress reduction modalities. This empowers clients to have the ability to gain control over their individual stress responses and to make life-long, sustained, choice-based change.

Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance is an extremely important factor when considering overweight and obesity and their concurrent health risks. It is a precursor to diabetes which is one of largest health problems facing Americans today. The numbers of people with diabetes are at an all time high and are rapidly increasing!

Insulin is a naturally occurring hormone which is used to metabolize glucose, the body's major source of energy. When the problem is not with insulin production but with the ability to use the insulin effectively, it's known as insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance is a reduced sensitivity in the tissues of the body to the action of insulin which is to bring glucose into the tissues to be used as a major source of energy. When insulin resistance (or reduced insulin sensitivity) exists, the body will attempt to overcome this resistance by secreting even more insulin from the pancreas. When the pancreas is no longer able to sustain the increase in insulin secretion, diabetes develops. Insulin resistance describes a group of symptoms, including obesity, hypertension, lower HDL cholesterol, and high triglycerides, which can increase a person's risk for diabetes and heart disease. This group of abnormalities is interrelated. Experts state that 10-25% of the adult population may be insulin resistant.

If a person combines insulin resistance and the classic four features associated with aging (sedentary life style, smoking, stress, and genetic susceptibility), then the risk for cardiovascular disease dramatically increases.

FREE Eating Disorder Support Group!

FREE weekly eating disorder support group for adults struggling with food issues, staffed by therapists from Mirasol Eating Disorder Recovery Centers. Thursdays from 5:30-6:45 pm at 3116 N Swan in Tucson. For more information, call 520-546-3200 or email Ann at support@mirasol.net.

"Mirasol is light years ahead of any other program in the country."