DIET AND FITNESS:

Bipolar Disorder --Top 10 Foods
That Can Help
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May 5, 2010, last updated April 1, 2015
By Editorial Staff of CollectiveWizdom and Rory
McClenaghan, Contributing Columnist

[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of
Registered Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other
members of our Editorial Board.]






Bipolar disorder affects people of every age, every race,
every country, every walk of life. From Vincent Van Gogh to
Ernest Hemingway, Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe -- the
list of bipolar sufferers is a long and distinguished one. On
April 13, 2011, the actress
Catherine Zeta-Jones confirmed
that she too suffers from bipolar disorder. But the fame and
success of these individuals masked the private pain of
depression and wild mood swings.

And bipolar disorder is not just a problem for the rich and
famous. According to Mental Health America, over 2 million
Americans suffer from bipolar disorder.


Bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) covers
anyone who has suffered at least one episode of serious
depression or mania. Sufferers' moods swing from giddy
highs to terrible lows, with periods of normalcy in between.
It not only complicates the lives of sufferers but those of
their friends and family too. It is a very serious condition,
which should be treated through standard medical channels.  
But there are changes you can make to your diet to alleviate
the suffering and mood swings caused by the illness. Is
there an ideal diet for bipolar disorder? What foods help to
decrease the mood swings of bipolar disorder?

The link between certain nutritional deficiencies and bipolar
diorder is strong.  Notably, Vitamin B12 deficiency has been
strongly linked to bipolar disorder.  We have pulled together
a comprehensive list of the Top 10  foods and vitamins  that
research has shown can be helpful in treating bipolar
disorder:


























1.
High-protein low-carbs – Research has shown that a diet
high in protein and low in carbs --- a ketogenic diet --- can
help bipolar sufferers stabilize their moods (Dr. El-Mallakh of
the University of Louisville School of Medicine, 2001, "The
ketogenic diet may have mood-stabilizing properties").

A ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate diet, similar to the
Atkins Diet. You should work with a dietician to come up
with a daily plan, but the standard diet includes a lot of dairy
and meat, for fat and protein, and very low levels of
carbohydrates.

2.
Avoid weight gain – Obesity is strongly linked with manic
depression. Research by Susan Simmons-Alling and Sandra
Talley in 2008 found that 35% of bipolar sufferers were
obese. Whether this is as a result of the medication they are
on or just triggered by their depressive state of mind, no-
one is certain. What is certain is that obesity is not healthy.
So bipolar sufferers must pay particular attention to eating a
healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables.

3.
Lithium – A treatment for many mental disorders,
including bipolar disorder, lithium salts are well-known to be
an effective mood-stabilizer.


It was recommended by the Food and Drug Administration
as a treatment for depression in 1970 and in 2003 a study
published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry showed it can
reduce the risk of suicide (Lithium Treatment and Suicide
Risk in Major Affective Disorders: Update and New Findings).

Lithium is usually administered by doctors as a supplement,
but you can top up your levels with
lithium-rich foods like
dairy products, seaweed and lemon.

If you are taking lithium or eating lithium-rich foods to help
stabilize bipolar disorder, new research suggests that also
taking a daily low-dose of aspirin can help. A 2011 study led  
by Dr. Peter Stolk of Utrecht University in the Netherlands
found that bipolar patients who took aspirin were better
stabilized, in that they did not require as many medication
changes or increases in dosages of medications.

4.
Salt – If you are taking lithium, it is very important to keep
a consistent level of salt in your body. Sodium stabilizes
lithium levels, so if the level of salt in your body goes up and
down it will make the lithium less effective. Work with your
physician or a dietician to come up with a plan.

5. Oily fish – A study in 1999 (Omega 3 Fatty Acids in Bipolar
Disorder) showed that
foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, like
oily fish, can act as mood-stabilizers for bipolar sufferers.
Salmon and cod are both rich in Omega 3.

6.
Low tyramine foods – Many sufferers are prescribed MAO
inhibitors to treat their depression. When these combine
with tyramine in the body they can cause diarrhea and
headaches. People on these drugs should avoid consuming
too much wine and cheese, both of which are high in
tyramine.

7.
Leafy green vegetables – These contain folic acid which is
used to make serotonin. Studies like the one conducted by
Rosenbaum JF, Fava M, Faulk WE, et al, in 1999 (The
antidepressant potential of oral S-adenosyl-l-methionine),
have shown that there is a link between folic acid deficiency
and depression.

8.
Vitamin B12-rich foods – Like folic acid, Vitamin B12
deficiency has been found to be linked to depression (Myths
about
Vitamin B12 deficiency, Fine EJ, Soria ED, 1991).  

Vitamin B12 is believed to alleviate symptoms of manic
depression by suppressing the activity of glutamate and
gaba synthesis, similar to the way the drugs lithium and
valporate work.


Dairy, meat and fish are all good sources of Vitamin B12 and
many supplements are available.


Contrary to popular opinion, wheat germ does not contain
Vitamin B-12.


9.
Vitamin C Foods. Broccoli, citrus fruit and strawberries –
All of these are great sources of Vitamin C. While it does not
fight depression directly, Vitamin C helps the body reduce
vanadium levels. Studies like the one published in Psychol
Med in 1981 (Vanadium: a possible aetiological factor in
manic depressive illness) have shown that diets high in
Vitamin C and low in vanadium alleviate the symptoms of
bipolar disorder.

10.
Routine – Although not a food, routine is one of the
most important things for a bipolar sufferer and this counts
for food as well. A study in 2006 found disruption in routine
to be a significant factor in the recurrence of bipolar disorder
(The Importance of Routine for Preventing Recurrence in
Bipolar Disorder). With that in mind, sufferers should stick to
a regime of three meals a day, at the same times, using the
foods outlined above.

[Update:

11.
Omega- 3 Fatty Acids Can Help Bipolar Patients -Several
studies have observed that the pre-frontal cortex area of the
brains of people with bipolar disorder show abnoralities in
the composition of  omega-3 fatty acids. A 2012 study from
Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science led by Dr.
Tatebayashi found that those with bipolar disorder have
abnormal levels of docosapentaenoic acid, one of the main
omega-3 fatty acids.

Try adding fish high in omega-3 fatty  acids such as salmon
and tuna at least 3 times a week to decrease depressive
moods and encourage stabilization.]


Related:
Top 10 Foods That Fight Depression / Ideal Diet to
Battle Schizophrenia / How Much Is Too Much Salt? /Sugar-
The Disease Connection / Are Diet Sodas Bad for Your
Health? / Ideal Breakfast for Diabetics / Ideal Breakfast for
Arthritis /Healing Foods Links /  Foods That Shrink Your
Waist / Foods That Lower Cholesterol/ VLDL-The Other
Cholesterol/ Foods That Reduce Blood Pressure

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Studies suggest that following a ketogenic
diet which is low in carbohydrates can
help stabilize bipolar disorder.