Foods that help and hurt when you have bipolar disorder

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Living with bipolar disorder can be a roller coaster of highs and lows.

While medications and therapy are the cornerstones of treatment, what you eat can also affect how you feel.

Recent studies suggest that certain foods can either help stabilize your mood or make the symptoms of bipolar disorder worse.

Here’s a down-to-earth guide to what you might want to eat and what you might want to avoid.

Foods That Could Help Your Mood

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Fish like salmon and sardines are full of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help manage mood swings, a common symptom of bipolar disorder.

If you’re not a fish person, you can also find omega-3s in flaxseeds, walnuts, and fish oil supplements.

Leafy Greens

Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens are packed with nutrients like folic acid, which some studies have found to be in lower levels in people with bipolar disorder. Eating more leafy greens could help keep your mood more stable.

Whole Grains

Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and whole-wheat pasta are rich in complex carbohydrates. These can help you feel fuller and provide a steady release of energy, which can keep your mood consistent.

Simple carbs like white bread can lead to quick spikes and crashes in energy and mood, so it’s better to go with whole grains.

Foods to Avoid for Better Mental Health

Sugary Snacks and Drinks

It’s easy to reach for cookies, candies, or sugary drinks when you’re feeling down, but this quick fix can lead to a crash that might worsen your symptoms.

High sugar intake has been linked to depressive episodes, so it’s a good idea to steer clear if you can.

Excess Caffeine

While a cup of coffee might pick you up in the morning, too much caffeine can mess with your sleep and lead to mood swings.

Lack of sleep is a big no-no when you’re managing bipolar disorder, so try to limit your caffeine intake, especially in the afternoon and evening.

Alcohol and Fast Food

It might be tempting to indulge in fast food and alcohol, especially during a manic or depressive episode. However, these types of foods and drinks can worsen your symptoms.

Alcohol is a depressant, and fast food is often high in trans fats, which have been linked to depression.

Final Thoughts: Personal Choices and Professional Advice

Everybody is different, so what works for one person might not work for another. If you’re interested in changing your diet to manage bipolar disorder, it’s always best to talk to a healthcare provider for personalized advice.

They can help you figure out a nutritional plan that works for you, often in combination with medication and therapy. Food isn’t a cure-all, but a balanced diet can be one more tool in your toolbox for managing bipolar disorder.

If you care about mental health, please read studies about 6 foods you can eat to improve mental health and B vitamins could help prevent depression and anxiety.

For more information about mental health, please see recent studies about how dairy foods may influence depression risk, and results showing Omega-3 fats may help reduce depression.

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