why do you lose appetite when sick
Are we suppressing one of Mother
Nature s oldest and most effective bug-fighting mechanisms by force-feeding
patients when they have lost their during an infection? Cellular recycling A PhD student in physiological
sciences from Stellenbosch University, Gustav van Niekerk, argues this might be
the case and is calling for a reassessment of this standard medical practice. In an article published in the
high-impact journal Autophagy this week (6 April 2016), Van Niekerk and
researchers from the Department of Physiological Sciences at SU argue that
appetite loss during infection or sickness has a very important function. And
that is to enhance the ability of cells to perform autophagy, a process which
literally means eating of self. Read: Under normal circumstances the cells
in your body use autophagy (a kind of cellular recycling process plant ) to
clear the garbage generated by the wear and tear of the parts in a cell. Through autophagy, the cell is able to recycle the debris or junk that could
otherwise have caused damage to the cell. The degraded material is then used as
fuel to generate new parts. In other words, all the cells in your body are
continuously being regenerated in order to function optimally. Van Niekerk and co-authors argue that
short-term fasting during an infection can be beneficial, since cells which are
deprived of nutrients are forced to upregulate the recycling process
(autophagy). In turn,
invading the cell can be degraded by the very same recycling process. A cell s self-defence mechanism Van Niekerk explains: The immune system is often seen as the army, while normal cells such as liver cells and neurons are seen as civilians. In this view, invading bacteria or viruses harm the unarmed civilian while the military (the immune system) are dedicated to fight off an infection.
However, "normal" cells are not quite as defenceless. We argue that an upregulated autophagy acts as a cell s self-defence mechanism and that it plays a critical role in the body s. In this way, civilian cells are in fact acting like partisan forces halting the spread of the infection while the professional forces (immune cells) are mobilised. Read: Prof. Anna-Mart Engelbrecht, head of the Department of Physiological Sciences and one of the co-authors, says this new way of understanding the role of autophagy has important implications for the medical field: It has also been shown that cancer patients who fasted before chemotherapy experienced less harmful side effects usually induced by chemotherapy such as fatigue, weakness, headaches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Shorter-term nutritional withdrawal Firstly, the researchers argue for a re-evaluation of nutritional support in the context of controlled underfeeding, where enhanced autophagy may provide superior support. Upregulating autophagy may also have additional benefits. Chunks of bacteria and viruses processed by the cell s recycling plant can also be passed on to immune cells. In turn, the immune cells can be "trained" to recognise the bacteria and viruses and form antibodies against them. This would suggest that upregulating of the recycling plant (autophagy) may be an effective way to enhance vaccine efficacy. Read: The researchers stress, however, that shorter-term nutritional withdrawal should not be confused with the well-established immune-inhibiting effect of long-term starvation.
They also point out that there are a number of circumstances in which nutritional supplementation may provide a therapeutic benefit. As an example, some pathogens are able to "hijack" certain steps in the autophagic proses. Therefore, evaluating patients according to pathogen-type may indicate infections in which permissive underfeeding as opposed to aggressive supplementation may prove more effective. Read more: The co-authors on the article are Prof. Anna-Mart Engelbrecht, Dr. Ben Loos and Dr Theo Nell. The work was supported by the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the Medical Research Council (MRC). Prof. Anna-Mart Engelbrecht Mr. Gustav van Niekerk Issued by Wiida Fourie, media: Faculty of Science, Stellenbosch University, 021 8082684, 071099 5721 Welcome to Ask Healthy Living -- in which and we do our best to ask the experts and get back to you. Have a question? and you could appear on Healthy Living! "Ask Healthy Living" is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. Please consult a qualified health care professional for personalized medical advice. Why do I have zero appetite when I'm sick? You've probably heard the old adage While experts say neither dieting nor force-feeding yourself is likely to help you recuperate any faster, you may certainly find yourself straying from your regular eating habits when you're under the weather. In fact, loss of appetite is a well-documented symptom of a number of illnesses, including one that often. But why does it happen -- and how do we make sure we still eat enough to fuel our recovery? "When we're sick or ill from many different conditions, our bodies mount a complex inflammatory response,", chair of the Division of Preventive, Occupational and Aerospace Medicine at Mayo Clinic, explains to HuffPost Healthy Living in an email. "As part of this response, we produce chemicals called, which have a wide range of effects and are partly responsible for the decreased appetite. " Depending on your illness, hormonal changes may also play a role, he says.
Your lowered drive to chow down may actually free up some energy to mount that immune response, he says. "Digesting food also takes energy, so if we're not digesting food, it frees up energy to help fight an infection or illness. " While a drop in appetite might help in the short-term, loss of appetite throughout a longer-lasting illness, like some cancers, can lead to detrimental weight loss, says Hensrud. Of course, you might find yourself with during a bout of the sniffles. And when things don't taste or smell as yummy as normal, you may simply be less excited to dig in. Loss of appetite may also discourage viruses from growing more. Eating less "may decrease certain substances that viruses 'feed' on," says Hensrud. Same goes for bacteria, which won't find as much glucose and iron in the blood to feed on if you're eating less. "This complex response is adaptive short term and can promote recovery and healing," he says. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't eat. Actively trying to starve out sickness and thereby depriving your body of enough calories could actually hinder the healing process, considering, Everyday Health reported. Experts recommend listening to your body and, in addition to getting plenty of rest and fluids. Have a question?
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