The bipolar diet

To ensure your health and safety, always consult a physician before making any changes to supplements or medications.

by Dr. Tara Peyman — 

For people with bipolar disorder, one of the most important factors in stabilizing mood and energy is balanced nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. Many patients with mild-to-moderate depression or bipolar disorder can significantly reduce symptoms with diet and exercise alone.

Following these few simple steps can encourage better control of moods and healthier energy balance:

1. Regularly scheduled meals — Often people with bipolar disorder or mental illness will skip meals, forget to eat or overeat, even if they are not hungry. Eat a nutritious meal three times daily on a regular schedule, even if you do not feel hungry. Stop eating when you are actually full. Pay attention to cues from your body or mind that tell you your blood sugar might be low, such as light-headedness or weakness or irritability. Keeping your blood sugar balanced can support stability of moods and energy.

2. Omega-3 oils — Fish oil, flax oil and other omega-3 oils have been particularly helpful in reducing symptoms of depression and bipolar disorder in some patients. Dosages depend on the individual case, but often higher doses provide better results. Omega-3 oils can also assist in cholesterol balance, heart health, skin health and many other concerns.

3. B vitamins — It is important to consume foods rich in B vitamins every day, such as fresh fruit, green vegetables and whole grains. B vitamins are utilized quickly by the body and cannot be stored, so regular consumption of fresh, whole foods is vital to keep your B vitamin status sufficient. A B-complex or high-potency multivitamin supplement can be used to increase vitamin status, as well. B vitamins are important for the general population, but especially for people with mood disorders, because they are utilized in the body and brain for energy production and mood stability.

In fact, a healthy diet with a balance of protein, vegetables and whole grains can be essential in the recovery from bipolar disorder.

For people with mental illness, self-care is not always easy, but a few simple steps can make a huge difference. Making that first change can be a motivating force to spark new positive changes in diet, exercise and other aspects of your life.

To ensure your health and safety, however, always consult a physician before making any changes to supplements or medications.


Tara Peyman is a licensed naturopathic doctor who has an expertise in the homeopathic and integrative treatment of bipolar disorder and mental illness, weight loss, diabetes and smoking cessation. She practices at East Valley Naturopathic Doctors in Mesa (480-985-0000) and in Tempe, Ariz. (480-456-0402).

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 3, June/July 2010.

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