We know that developing bipolar disorder is partly genetic and partly environmental.
While mood instability is a symptom of chemical imbalance in our brains, these chemicals are influenced by our food, so our diet can profoundly impact brain chemistry, mood, and behaviour.
Dietary habits that contribute to poor mental health.
Diets rich in sweets and refined starches and heavily processed seed oils cause unstable blood sugar, inflammation, oxidative stress, and hormone instability throughout the body.
Excess glucose is toxic to brain cells: the higher your blood sugar, the higher your brain sugar.
High sugar diets trigger the release of excess inflammatory cytokines. This unnecessary inflammation is a root cause of some neurological diseases and psychiatric disorders.
High sugar diets drive imbalances in the activity of neurotransmitters in several ways. Notably, these are the same brain chemical imbalances most psychiatric medications are designed to correct. serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, and GABA
The brain has a very high energy demand. The mitochondria, the energy-generating organelles inside brain cells, are damaged by high sugar diets.
Heavily processed food contains additives that can be harmful to brain health. Furthermore, our typical western diet is far too high in omega 6 oils. Although omega 6 plays a vital role in immunity, it promotes inflammation, so excess negatively affects brain health.
Best Foods for Brain Health
Food is very personal, and we should respect each other’s choices. However, people must have the information they need to make informed decisions.
We have been told that fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins and minerals. While it is true that many plant foods are rich in these nutrients, An astounding variety of plant foods interfere with our ability to process, absorb, or store vital nutrients.
Most brain-essential nutrients are easier to find in animal foods and, in some cases, are ONLY found in animal foods.
Importance of Essential Fatty Acids
- Essential fatty acids are critical components of all cells, and bodies cannot make them from scratch.
- The body requires a balanced Omega-3 fatty acid (ALA, EPA, and DHA) and the omega-6 fatty acid.
- The two most important omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, do not exist in plant foods.
- Omega-3s give brain cell membranes the flexibility they need to function correctly.
- Omega-3s reduce the hyperactivity of brain cell signalling chemicals associated with manic symptoms.
- Omega-3s provide anti-inflammatory protection to brain cells. There is a strong association between mood disorders and inflammation in the brain.
EPA and DHA are synthesised primarily by algae and grasses that people don’t eat and don’t digest well:
However, animals eating these green foods accumulate EPA and DHA in their tissues. Therefore, good sources of EPA and DHA include:
- Meat from grass-fed animals
- Poultry meat
- Liver from pasture-raised poultry
- Animal brain
- Oily fish, e.g. Small oily fish sardines and mackerel, bluefish, tuna, salmon, halibut, bass, and trout.
- Eggs are high in DHA
- Full-fat dairy products contain EPA
Just Eat Real Food
Following a diet rich in fresh meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and vegetables requires no special medical supervision.
Cleaning up your diet may even help you work with your psychiatrist to reduce psychiatric medications in some cases. Compared to most modern diets, a “real food” diet contains more bioavailable nutrients and, therefore, more nourishing for the brain.