Good news: there’s another tool for bipolar mood management—food. More specifically, brain food. Recent findings show that eating more of what helps nourish our brain can improve our stability.
#1 Good food helps mental functioning
Studies have revealed a positive correlation between consuming nutritious food and better mental functioning, said Bonnie Kaplan, PhD, a member of the University of Calgary medical faculty. “Your brain is the most metabolically active organ. Your heart is second,” Kaplan explains. “Your brain and heart need to be fed constantly.”
#2 Nutrients are powerful
Because the brain needs a variety of nutrients to power it, when you don’t provide your brain with enough of the right nutrients, it doesn’t perform as well and both mood and mental ability suffer, explained Kaplan, referring to the range of carbohydrates, fiber, fats, B vitamins, calcium, potassium, zinc, and other elements off the periodic table.
#3 Food protects our brains
Since the brain is highly vulnerable to free radicals and a destructive action called “oxidative stress” it’s important we protect our noggins with antioxidants. We can do this through the vitamins and minerals found in our food and the phytochemicals (naturally occurring compounds found in plants) such as carotenes in brightly-colored fruits and vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids in dark-green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds.
#4 Omega-3s build better cells
Omega-3s are not only involved in many of your body’s functions, but also in the building cell membranes in the brain. In fact, research has shown that omega-3s play a role in reducing anxiety, depression and even other bipolar symptoms. The body doesn’t make omega-3 fatty acids, so the only way we get them is through food (or supplements). Fatty fish like salmon and sardines are good dietary sources of omega-3.
#5 DHAs improve gray matter
Fish and plants have different kinds of omega-3 fatty acids, but both are useful. DHA, one form of omega-3 found in fish, makes up a large part of the gray matter of the brain, explained neurologist Daniel G. Amen, MD. “The fat in your brain forms cell membranes and plays a vital role in how our cells function. DHA is also found in high quantities in the retina, the light-sensitive part of the eye.”
#6 Clean eating balances everything
Dr. Amen says that while eating protein is necessary to help balance blood sugar, and maintain lean muscle mass, it’s also critical that the sources you use are clean—meaning organic, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, grass-fed and free-range. Clean eating goes for all food, he added.