Firstly, a healthy diet for someone with bipolar disorder looks very similar to good nutrition for the average person. It includes fruits, vegetables, grains, lean meats, fish, eggs, low-fat dairy, soy and nuts/seeds.
Other key areas in your diet include the following –
Caffeine – Caffeine is a stimulant. It can cause sleep problems, and good sleep is critical for people with bipolar. As well, because caffeine is a stimulant it can sometimes actually contribute to a manic episode. It is recommended not to stop caffeine abruptly, but rather to taper down the use.
Alcohol – Alcohol is a depressant and can contribute to episodes of depression. It can also interact negatively with medication.
Sugar – Blood-sugar levels can contribute to mood swings as your blood-sugar levels rise and decrease. Avoid large amounts of sugar or so-called junk food.
Salt & Water – Salt plays a role in your system. Normally added salt is not a good thing, however when you are taking Lithium, the salt / lithium balance needs to be controlled. Your doctor should conduct regular blood tests to check your lithium level. Also related to the salt balance is water. It is important to keep your body hydrated to aid in the salt balance.
Omega 3 & 6 – Fish oil is good for the brain. It’s healthy for anyone, but even more so for someone with bipolar. Fish oil has been said to lessen the symptoms of bipolar disorder – especially stress – and stress is a key trigger in bipolar disorder.
Magnesium – Magnesium is a mood balancer. It is said to have a chemical similarity to lithium.
High-fat meats – High-fat meats should be eaten in moderation. They can lower the sedative effect of some medication. They can also delay the time medication is being absorbed.
You should also avoid natural supplements, like St. John’s Wort, if you are on medication. They could negatively interact with your medication. Grapefruit juice needs to be avoided when on certain medications because of the severe increase in blood levels. If you are taking an MAOI (monoamine oxidose inhibitor) you need to watch your diet carefully. For example, you will need to avoid some cheese, aged meat, red wine, and more.
The University of Michigan recommends: folic acid, vitamins B, B6, B12, D, E, Thiamin, Calcium, Selenium, Zinc, Magnesium, Omega 3, and Tryptophan.
For any supplement, vitamin or medication, always talk to your doctor or pharmacist to determine the best diet for you. Always do your best to control bipolar disorder. Food and nutrition is a great place to start.
Sources: WebMD, Everydayhealth, The University of Michigan