Schizophrenia is a mental pathology in which hallucinations, delusions, unpredictable behavior, and personality degradation are noted. The patient is forced to take medication throughout his life in order to stabilize his condition. However, taking such drugs can lead to weight gain. It is important for the patient to organize proper nutrition. We will find out which diet is suitable for schizophrenia, and what are the contraindications.

Diet for schizophrenia

 

We Are What We Eat

It has long been proven that the foods we eat directly and indirectly affect our mental state. They can both provoke the development of diseases and improve the body. “We are what we eat” – this famous phrase directly reflects the relationship between our eating habits and health status. In the case of serious illnesses, including mental ones, this statement becomes doubly relevant.

It is known that cells in our unique body are regularly updated. So, epidermal cells – every 2-3 weeks, blood – once every 120-150 days. The liver is a unique organ. It cleanses the body of all food debris that we consume all its life, it is even able to recover with the loss of 75% of its cells. If you completely abandon harmful foods (fried, sugar, alcohol), then the liver will be completely cleansed in 6-8 weeks.

Constant medication is a heavy burden on the liver, which has to constantly removed them. An ordinary person drinks medicines quite rarely, this does not drastically affect the liver, but chronic patients are forced to take them constantly. That is why in diseases requiring constant medical treatment, special attention should be paid to proper nutrition.

Even in a healthy person, the state of mind, mood, reactions to surrounding events largely depend on health. This is especially important for people with mental disabilities. Schizophrenia is a multifactorial disease that requires certain lifestyle choices to maintain a stable condition without exacerbations. Long-term use of drugs and malnutrition can lead not only to weight gain, but also to the development of some systemic diseases.

 

Diseases in schizophrenia

Scientific research in the field of psychiatry has shown that patients are prone to change their eating habits, have a habit of unhealthy food, poor in fiber. Moreover, this is not necessarily associated with taking antipsychotics – such phenomena can be observed in the absence of drug treatment.

Unbalanced diet, alcohol and nicotine consumption, lack of physical activity, sedentary lifestyle, preference for fatty foods, poor in fiber, lead to the development of metabolic syndrome. The patient often develops cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus. In addition, taking atypical antipsychotics causes hormonal imbalance, an uncontrolled increase in appetite. But after all, taking medication is necessary in any case, which is why it is so important to control the nutrition of a patient with schizophrenia. According to statistics, the mortality among this category of the population is 2-3 times higher precisely because of the side effects from taking medications and an unsuitable lifestyle.

An effective method of dealing with overweight in schizophrenia in children and adults is dieting. In medical institutions, patients are prescribed special nutrition, but at home, it is important for the patient’s relatives to pay special attention to this.

 

Popular diets for schizophrenia

In science, theories have been repeatedly put forward in which scientists substantiate the relationship between a person’s diet and the state of his psyche. Here are some of the most popular ones.

 

Gluten free diet

It is worth noting that a gluten-free diet is becoming more and more popular not only in patients with celiac disease (gluten intolerance), but also in people who do not have chronic disorders. Some consumers are convinced that it is the absence of vegetable protein that helps to improve overall well-being and maintain intestinal health in order.

The question that gluten consumption is associated with various human health disorders, including neurological pathologies, is quite actively discussed in the scientific community. A gluten-free diet is especially recommended for pathologies such as autism, schizophrenia, depression, and other borderline conditions.

Celiac disease is a pathology of the small intestine, in which the gluten contained in foods is not completely broken down. It accumulates on the walls of the intestine, glues the villi, which interferes with the normal absorption of food, and over time leads to a deficiency of useful elements. As a result, an autoimmune reaction develops – the body begins to destroy its own cells.

The association of gluten with psychiatric disorders, in particular juvenile schizophrenia, was first identified in the mid-20th century. A few years later, the American endocrinologist Francis Dohan presented his own theory, in which he estimated the risk of morbidity depending on the diet. He noted that during the Second World War in countries lacking in cereal crops, hospitalizations from exacerbation of schizophrenia were significantly reduced.

In another study, Dohan cited the results of his own experiment. For the group of patients taking medications, a diet with the usual content of cereals was established. During this period, a decrease in the effectiveness of drugs was noted. When returning to a gluten-free diet, the drug effect increased.

There is no single evidence-based scientific base confirming the effect of gluten on the course of schizophrenia, there are only separate studies. Probably, it also depends on the medications taken, the individual characteristics of patients. In the treatment of the disease, along with antipsychotics and other drugs, doctors consider a gluten-free diet as an effective addition to standard therapy.

 

Omega-3 fatty acids

These substances are known for their positive effect on the human body, are indispensable for the full functioning of the brain, cardiovascular activity. Omega-3s are not synthesized by the body. These fatty acids must come from the outside along with the products.

Scientific studies have proven that omega-3 acids can reduce the risk of developing schizophrenia and other mental disorders. At the same time, the positive effect lasts for several years after taking nutritional supplements with Omega-3. An Australian experiment showed that even after six years, patients who took fatty acid supplements were less likely to suffer from flare-ups than patients who participated in the study as a placebo.In the first group, acute psychosis was noted in 10% of participants, while in the group taking pacifiers – 40%. In some countries, omega-3 preparations are recommended as an additional supplement to the diet of patients with schizophrenia, but are not required.

 

Ketogenic diet

This is a low-carb, high-fat, moderate-protein diet. It was developed back in the 20s of the XX century for the treatment of epileptic children – it helped to increase the level of ketone bodies in the blood. In the 70s, this diet was also used for weight loss.

The essence of this method of nutrition is as follows: the body begins to use not carbohydrates as an energy source (they are supposed to be only 20 g per day), but fats that are broken down into ketone bodies: beta-hydroxybutyrate, acetone, acetoacetic acid. Acetone is excreted from the body, and the remaining compounds circulate in the blood and serve as sources of fuel for cells. The use of ketone bodies can reduce insulin resistance, maintain low blood insulin levels, and reduce cholesterol levels. A number of studies confirm that the keto diet contributes to the reversibility of type 2 diabetes. All these factors are important for patients with schizophrenia who are prone to metabolic syndrome and predisposed to the development of diabetes.

All changes related to eating habits should be monitored by specialists. For example, if there are very few carbohydrates in the diet during the keto diet (less than 15 g per day), then they can affect the decrease in the effectiveness of drugs.

Theories about the influence of certain food components on the mental state and brain function have not been officially confirmed, but the negative effect of some of them, even on healthy people, has been fully proven.So, some flavor enhancers provoke an excessive release of histamine, which adversely affects brain activity. Gluten intolerance has been shown to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia. At the same time, you need to understand that all the described diets are not a panacea, but only an auxiliary tool.

 

Can I drink coffee and caffeinated drinks with schizophrenia?

Caffeine is an alkaloid that is found in many plants: coffee, tea, cocoa, cola and others. These are legal psychostimulants, the consumption of which is not regulated in any way. As you know, after drinking a drink with caffeine, a short-term effect occurs: drowsiness disappears, reaction improves, concentration of attention increases. However, drinking coffee in large quantities is pointless: after a certain amount of caffeine in the body, it ceases to invigorate, but it can cause a state of psychosis in healthy people, as well as provoke it in some brain pathologies, in particular, in schizophrenia.

In addition, experiments have shown that excess caffeine increases the likelihood of hallucinations – visual and auditory. Therefore, in the treatment of mental disorders, caffeinated drinks are recommended to be completely excluded from the diet.

 

Useful foods for schizophrenia

It is difficult to give the same recommendations for all patients, since the initial conditions are different. Comorbidities, age should be taken into account (for example, for schizophrenia in men or women, recommendations may be different). Even national characteristics play a role – for example, Muslims are forbidden to eat pork. All features must be taken into account when developing a diet for the patient. A balanced diet is especially important during periods of exacerbations, as often a person refuses to eat at all or tries to eat unsuitable foods.

Without fail, there must be food containing vitamins of group B, magnesium, nicotinic acid and other substances that are useful for disorders of brain activity.

Vegetables fresh, boiled. steamed: potatoes, beets, cabbage, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, pumpkins, carrots, zucchini, including juices from them, as well as mushrooms.

  • Fruits, berries – fresh, in the form of juices, dried fruits.
  • Boiled eggs, scrambled eggs.
  • Dairy products: cheeses, cottage cheese and others.
  • Fish, seafood.
  • Lean meats: rabbit, turkey, chicken.
  • Various nuts and seeds.
  • Cereals: buckwheat, rice, legumes, millet.

Particular emphasis should be placed on foods that contain protein, as well as rich in fiber and healthy fats. It is important to maintain a vitamin balance: the menu should include vitamins C, E, PP – even in a healthy person, their deficiency leads to symptoms similar to schizophrenia. Vitamin PP is enough in vegetables: broccoli, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes. Vitamin C is rich in citrus fruits, berries, onions, garlic. We get B vitamins from nuts, egg yolk, legumes. It is important to drink enough pure water per day – at least 1.5 liters.

We have given only the main recommendations, and the daily diet for the patient is compiled taking into account individual characteristics. Proper nutrition will help curb the development of concomitant diseases, while maintaining physical health in order.

 

What foods are contraindicated in schizophrenia

Some drinks and foods should be avoided altogether so as not to provoke an exacerbation of the mental state. So, under the ban are tea, coffee, alcohol, sweet soda. Smoked meats, sausages, other meat products are also better not to use.

You need to avoid fried, semi-finished products, confectionery, and also limit the consumption of bread, preferring rye. Whole milk is best avoided, but fermented milk products are welcome.

It must be remembered that schizophrenia is not only a deviation in mental health, but also an emotional failure in the body. A balanced diet will help stabilize the condition, reducing the risk of exacerbations.