Most times doctors tell you that a well-balanced diet is the key to staying healthy. Although this is good advice for most people, individuals with bipolar disorder (or manic-depression) need to be careful.
WebMD states that “there isn’t a miracle diet for bipolar disorder.” In general, they recommend avoiding fad diets and sticking to the basics, like eating lots of fruits, vegetables, and grains and sticking to fewer foods loaded with fats and sugar.
This concept is all well and good, but there is a more valuable point that you need to know, and few sources out there discuss this.
Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling, who spent his life studying and working in the sciences, founded the new field of Orthomolecular Psychiatry in 1968. Pauling proposed that “mental abnormalities might be successfully treated by correcting imbalances or deficiencies among naturally occurring biochemical constituents of the brain, notably vitamins and other micronutrients, as an alternative to the administration of potent synthetic psychoactive drugs.”
In laymen’s terms, this means that there are certain foods that can greatly affect your moods if you are swinging on either end of the pendulum of bipolar disorder.
For example, when someone feels emotionally balanced, potatoes are okay to eat. They are also okay to eat when that same person swings to the lows of depression. However they should be avoided if that person is having a bout with the manic side of bipolar. Milk and other dairy products are okay when balanced, but they should be avoided when on a manic high, and yet they can help when on a depressed low. Fish, (tuna in particular), pork, carrots, spinach, oranges, brown rice and many other foods are okay no matter what level a person is at.
What a person with bipolar needs to be careful of is when a particular food is a key ingredient of another food product. For example, tomatoes are okay for when they feel balanced and or the depressed end of bipolar, but they need to be avoided when swinging to the manic side – so no tomato-based products like ketchup or tomato sauce on pizza.
Why Does Eating or Avoiding Certain Foods Matter?
Everyone’s brain has three neurotransmitter chemicals that are affected by food; dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Neurotransmitters relay signals between neurons and other brain cells. In a well-functioning brain, the proportion of these chemicals works properly, however, in bipolar disorder, there is a chemical imbalance between these.
Any foods that are ingested break down into a chemically-based composition of their own that can have an impact on any one of these neurotransmitters or any combination of them. So if the chemicals in the person’s brain are running one way, adding the wrong set of chemicals through food intake can further press the brain to react in a negative manner.
How to Learn More
To learn more about how certain foods can be used to manage bipolar symptoms (and other types of depression), “The Brain Chemistry Diet” by Michael Lesser, M.D. (Putnam Books, 2002) may be helpful. Lesser was one of the founders (along with the late Linus Pauling, Ph.D.) of the Orthomolecular Psychiatry Movement.
Originally posted on Yahoo Health