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food for the brain

Championing optimum nutrition for the mind


Action plan for bipolar disorder

Up your intake of essential omega-3 fats

This means eating fish at least twice a week, seeds on most days and supplementing omega-3 fish oils. The best fish for EPA, the type of omega-3 fat that’s linked with improving mood, are:

Mackerel (1,400mg per 100g/3oz) Herring/kipper (1,000mg) Sardines (1,000mg),fresh tuna (900mg), Anchovy (900mg), Salmon (800mg),Trout (500mg). Tuna, being high in mercury is best eaten not more than three times a month.

The best seeds are flax seeds and pumpkin seeds. Flax seeds are so small they are best ground and sprinkled on cereal. Alternatively, use flax seed oil, for example in salad dressings. While technically providing omega-3 only about 5% of the type of omega-3 (alpha linolenic acid) in these seeds is converted in your body into EPA.

When supplementing omega 3 fish oils you are aiming for about 1,000mg of EPA a day for a mood balancing effect. That means supplementing a concentrated omega-3 Fish Oil capsule providing 500mg, once or twice a day and eating a serving of any of the above fish three times a week.

Avoid or reduce caffeine, sugar, refined carbohydrates and alcohol

Eat a diet that will stabilise your blood sugar (known as a Low GL diet). This means avoiding sugar and refined carbohydrates, eating at regular intervals, including protein with every meal and snack. Avoid strong stimulants such as coffee, tea and energy drinks and drink mild stimulants such as green tea only occasionally. Keep alcohol to a minimum, for example, one unit per day, three to four times per week.

Consider supplementing magnesium

Foods high in magnesium are: whole grains, legumes and especially dark green leafy vegetables. Pumpkin seeds and salmon also have magnesium. It is worth supplementing magnesium, particularly if you have some of the other indications of insufficiency. Try 400mg daily. Magnesium works in conjunction with many other nutrients so an all-round multi-vitamin and mineral formula is a good idea if you are not managing a fantastically healthy diet.

Finding help

If you would like further help, you can visit our clinic the Brain Bio Centre which specialises in optimum nutrition for mental health recovery. We have helped many people with bipolar disorder, by working with them to create personalised nutritional programmes based upon their health history, symptoms and test results. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you, please click here.

Alternatively a register of nutritional therapists in your local area can be found by visiting the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT).

Further reading

OptForTheMind3Optimum Nutrition for the Mind
Patrick Holford, 2010
Optimum Nutrition for the Mind is the classic guide to improving your mood, boosting your memory, sharpening your mind and solving mental health problems through nutrition.

£2 from each book sale is donated to Food for the Brain.

BipolarChildThe Bipolar Child
Dr D Papolos and J Papolos, 2007
This book comprehensively details the diagnosis of biploar disorder, explains how to find good treatment and medications, and advises parents about ways to advocate effectively for their children in school. This book contains ideas for parents and educators to help the children feel more comfortable in the academic environment. It also contains information about hospitalization, the importance of neuropsychological testing (with a recommendeded battery of tests) and the world of insurance. Also included is information on promising new drugs and advances taking place in the field of molecular genetics.

TheMoodCureThe Mood Cure
Julia Ross, 2009
This book focuses on a nutritional plan that the author has used successfully in her own clinic using specific foods and supplements that can lift dark moods and emotions in less then 24 hours. It works by restoring the body's natural chemical balance, thereby relieving mood-related symptoms, such as depression, PMS, stress, low self-esteem, irritability and SAD.