The Argument for Healthy Food

According to the National Library of Medicine, Diet and Bipolar Disorder: A Review of Its Relationship and Potential Therapeutic Mechanisms of Action, people with bipolar disorder consume an unhealthier dietary pattern than those who don’t have the condition. This is definitely the case with me and when I put the question to the support group that I’m a part of, there was an overwhelming consensus that this was true.

In another article (Nutrition and Bipolar Depression), there is an obvious correlation between eating habits of those with the condition and obesity along with other physical comorbidities.

A study conducted in 2017 found that the symptoms of people with moderate-to-severe depression improved after receiving nutritional counseling and ate a healthier diet for 12 weeks. It makes sense that a diet focused on fresh and whole foods high in nutrients had a positive effect on symptoms of bipolar and depression.

It also makes sense and really sucks that refined foods, sweets, fried and junk foods have a negative impact on mental health. No surprise that sugary foods are the devil. While they can cause a temporary spike in ‘feel good’ transmitters such as dopamine, there is a subsequent crash that’s not great for your mood.

So, what foods should I be focusing on that will promote better mental health?

Protein – the body uses a protein called tryptophan to create serotonin, the ‘feel good’ hormone. Tuna and turkey.

Omega-3 fatty acids – although more research is necessary to confirm this, studies have suggested that omega-3 fatty acids such as those contained in salmon might help with mood disorders.

Vitamin D – a 2019 study suggests that vitamin D can help improve symptoms of depression. Oily fish, fortified dairy products and eggs.

Antioxidants – these help remove free radicals which are waste products of natural bodily processes which can build up in the body. If you can’t eliminate enough of them, oxidative stress can occur. There are a number of health problems which can result from this, including anxiety and depression. Fresh, plant-based foods such as berries, vegetables, and soy.

Zinc – some research suggests that people with depression and mood disorders have lower levels of zinc. It helps boost the immune system and may influence depression. Whole grains, beef, chicken, and pork.

Ok, so there are a few of these that make appearances in my diet and there are some that I can definitely throw in. Here’s hoping that the Bear is open to eating more fish because at present, it is not her favorite.

I know that this is all common sense information but knowing the science behind nutrition and the correlation to mental health helps solidify in my mind why I need to adjust my eating habits. While anything can be eaten in moderation, greatly reducing my junk food intake is something that’s a no brainer. Except that it’s soooo hard. And tasty. And attached to my emotions. Sigh.

I think that the key is to take it one day at a time. I’d like to say that I shouldn’t be too hard on myself when I slip but that just gives me an easy out to slip. So, I’d rather say that maybe I get a cheat day during the week or on the weekend. Maybe then it won’t seem so hard. Except that I’d like to cut out breads to. I honestly have no idea how people do this. I anticipate being severely cranky. I imagine there will be some entertaining posts…

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