Bipolar Diet - What to Eat and What to Avoid

What would constitute a useful bipolar diet for persons affected by the condition?

At one time, experts believed that the incidence of bipolar disorder affected individuals constituted only 1% of the population. In the last decade, however, researchers have come to believe that the actual percentage may be much higher.

Bipolar disorder, a complex disorder that causes dramatic or unusually extreme mood swings, may have been greatly misdiagnosed in the past, especially in youth. No laboratory tests exist to conclusively prove bipolar disorder, so as an underlying condition it can be masked by other mental or physical illnesses.

The highs of mania and the lows of depression previously gave rise to the disorder the term manic depression. In addition to mood swings, the affected person can experience disturbances in thinking, social functioning impairment, and distortions in perception (such as hallucination, or irrational phobias and anxieties).

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A note about Bipolar Diet - What to Eat and What to Avoid

In natural health and healing, we believe in holistic health and healing, as we realize that different parts of the human body are highly interlinked, often beyond Man's understanding. We also believe that the body has the ability to heal itself of any disease, even supposedly incurable diseases.

In order to do so, the body needs the support of some basic dietary and lifestyle good health habits, such as a full body detox and a proper understanding and application of nutrition. No matter how remote or unrelated a health condition may seem, these fundamental health steps will greatly magnify the effects and benefits of any of our health-promoting efforts, including the use of specific natural health remedies.

Though no one “bipolar diet” exists, individuals with bipolar disorder can benefit from modifications to their diet. In general, a bipolar individual should try to make every effort to make wise dietary choices that not only help in optimum brain functioning, but also help with weight and overall vitality.

The traditional “Western” diet, rich in red meats, saturated or trans fats, and refined simple carbohydrates, can spell disaster for the bipolar individual; it is an example of what not to do for a bipolar diet. Such foods not only increases the risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, but may also lack essential nutrients needed to properly balance brain function.

The ideal diet should be well-balanced and nutrient-rich, and should include fresh (preferably organic) fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, lean meats, coldwater fish, soy products, low fat dairy, eggs (for additional protein), nuts and seeds. As with any other healthy diet, caloric intake should be monitored. These are some possible elements of a good bipolar diet.

Certain medications commonly prescribed for bipolar disorder reduce metabolism and cause the body to rapidly gain weight.

And it's not just about bipolar diet and nutrition, but a bipolar lifestyle as well. Regular exercise remains a key component of a healthy rehabilitative lifestyle for bipolar individuals. Consistent exercise have been shown to boost and regulate mood, improve circulation (and thus oxygen uptake by the brain), as well as drastically reduce the incidence of the aforementioned cardiovascular diseases.

Bipolar individuals may wish to consider fitness modalities like yoga, tai chi or qi gong, which emphasize the mind-body-spiritual connection. Unlike intensely competitive sports, these low impact mindful practices may help reduce the severity of both manic and depressive episodes. Many classes also incorporate meditation, which can prove useful in helping to control mood swings while balancing mood.

Be sure that the bipolar diet contains sufficient amounts of protein through sources like fish and lean meats. Cold water fish (especially salmon) can be wonderful additions to the diet in place of red meat, as it also contain substantial amounts of omega 3 fatty acids, a proven supplement for healthy brain function. Walnuts, flaxseed, and flaxseed oil contain alpha-linolenic acid, which becomes omega-3 fatty acid in the body, and can be used as supplements in a vegetarian diet.

Protein in meals helps lift mood and alertness by stimulating the production of dopamine and norepinephrine. Vegetables, especially leafy green replete with folate, should be included. Folic acid has been used as a proven natural treatment (one of three officially recognized natural supplements) for bipolar disorder.

Restrict refined and over-processed grain and cereals and instead go whole grain. Slow release unrefined carbohydrates can help in initiating the relaxation response and in fighting stress. Highly refined carbohydrates, on the other hand, convert to sugar quickly and result in weight gain, fatigue, and impair mental or cognitive functions by imparting a sluggish feeling. As some bipolar medications cause weight gain, this step can be critical in one's bipolar diet.

Replace unhealthy fats with the omega series, especially omega 3. Use supplements that combine omega 3, 6, and 9, as well as pure olive oil, while removing other oils from the diet as much as possible. Flaxseed oil is another great oil to use.

Alcohol should be limited from a good bipolar diet, as should caffeine and other stimulants. Bipolar individuals can also easily become addicted to such substances. Alcohol works as a central nervous system depressant, so many bipolar individuals use it self-medicate, eventually crossing the line and becoming alcoholics.

Many bipolar individuals drink, especially during low moods. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, people with bipolar disorder can be five times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than the rest of the population. In addition, certain alcohols have a good deal of carbohydrates, apart from influencing moods and triggering mood swings.

Caffeine can temporarily elevate a depressed state; however, it also alters mood and disrupts sleep. Reducing or removing caffeine from one's bipolar diet will help restore sleep patterns, reduce agitation or jitteriness, and allow the sedative effects of medications, such as benzodiazepines, to properly treat the anxiety and mania often associated with bipolar disorder.

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Are you married to a bipolar spouse or in a relationship with someone suffering from the disorder? Click here for a help manual that you may need.

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