Schizophrenia has been widely misunderstood as spilt personality or multiple personality disorder. On the contrary, schizophrenia is a brain disorder which affects the way individuals perceive their reality. As a result, schizophrenic patients may suffer from some form of delusions, exhibit abnormal thinking or behavior patterns and may even suffer from hallucinations. Schizophrenia is a mental illness that maybe treated with medication and therapy. However, schizophrenic patients suffer from a chronic, lifelong ailment that may need constant care.
Studies on schizophrenia reveal that neurotransmitter disorders in our brain, for instance, chemicals such as dopamine and glutamate, maybe responsible for schizophrenia. Although, experts are still working on conclusive evidence to prove this, certain foods for schizophrenia may hold a key connection in either contributing to schizophrenia or helping to treat the disorder.
Some studies even suggested that foods to avoid for schizophrenia should include wheat products and fatty foods. Research suggested that gluten from wheat products and fatty foods may induce toxins in the nervous system hampering treatment of schizophrenia.
Diet therapy for schizophrenic patients emphasizes on foods, which would provide essential fatty acids, whole grain carbohydrates, foods with rich traces of antioxidants and niacin. Proper diet for schizophrenia is essential since patients often overlook nutrition and health while they cope with mental illness side effects such as depression, anxiety, moodiness and so on.
Patients on schizophrenia treatment maybe advised to take nutritional diet pills to supplement their daily intake of food. It is important to talk to your doctor or psychiatrist about the benefits and drawbacks of diet pills.
There is a definite need for established schizophrenia diet plan. While psychosocial therapy and drugs may help relieve some of the symptoms, they may also cause rapid weight gain and obesity amongst schizophrenic patients. This could lead to further problems such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disorders. Apart from the side effects of medication, schizophrenic patients need a nutritional plan focusing on food groups that will provide them with essential vitamins and minerals, healthy fatty acids and plenty of antioxidants. Here is a list of foods that should form part of the schizophrenia diet plan -
- Maintaining blood sugar balance is essential for patients with schizophrenia. An imbalance in blood sugar levels is known to trigger moodiness, irritability, depression and rage. To stabilize your body’s glucose levels it is important to consume plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and low fat dairy. Avoid refined flour products, processed foods and excess sugar. To maintain blood glucose levels it is important to eat appropriate food at regular intervals. Skipped meals may cause a spike in blood sugar levels and may trigger overeating.
- Studies suggest that an imbalance in your diet of essential fatty acids may contribute to symptoms of schizophrenia. Diet experts suggest including healthy portions of Omega 3 fatty acids from seafood and nut proteins at least twice a week. Omega 3 fatty acids maybe found in fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna and trout. Nut proteins from peanuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and so on maybe substituted as vegetarian options.
- Antioxidants fight free radical damage and oxidant pollutants that hamper physical and emotional functions. Fruits and vegetables act as excellent sources of plant based antioxidants. Five servings of fruits and vegetables containing rich traces of Vitamins such as A, B, C, E and K and essential minerals for brain health such as iron, copper, potassium and zinc may help control symptoms of schizophrenia.
- Niacin improves blood flow to the brain and carries essential nutrient supply, enabling optimal functioning of the neurotransmitters. Schizophrenic patients can get a healthy dose of niacin from food sources such as chicken and turkey breasts, mushrooms, seafood such as shrimp, salmon, scallops and soy products such as tofu. Moderate quantities of niacin may help; however, excess niacin can be toxic. Talk to your doctor about the amount of niacin in your diet. Your doctor may recommend supplements with benefits of niacin.
- Plant foods rich in B vitamins such as whole grains, nuts, seeds, lentils and beans, fruits and green vegetables are essential for mental health. B12 maybe found in animal sources such as lean meat, seafood, eggs and diary. Your doctor may recommend intake of multivitamin supplements that provide folic acid and zinc to supplement your daily dietary intake.
- Schizophrenia patients maybe monitored for nutritional deficiencies, which often cause delusions, anxiety, panic attacks and moodiness. Your doctor or therapist along with a dietitian can help build your meal plan and ensure that you follow it.
Nutrition for schizophrenia ensures elimination of nutritional deficiencies, which may trigger some of the symptoms. Moreover, prolonged intake of medication may cause weight gain, which can further lead to cardiovascular diseases. In order to maintain a food balance and provide essential nutrients for brain function, doctors may recommend nutrients or nutritional supplements for schizophrenic patients.
- To avoid nutritional deficiency causing an imbalance in the nervous system, consume natural foods and avoid processed or refined food products.
- Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol and nicotine, which cause a spike in blood sugar levels and trigger symptoms of moodiness and irritability.
- Studies show a lack of sufficient Omega 3 fatty acids may trigger symptoms of schizophrenia. Include oily fish, seeds and nuts in your diet to gain healthy fatty acids.
- Healthy carbohydrates from whole grain products, essential nutrients from green leafy vegetables and fruits and antioxidants from colored food groups are an essential part of a schizophrenia diet. Include herbs such as gingko, serpentwood and milk thistle as natural remedies for schizophrenia.
- Schizophrenia diet must include B3 vitamins such as niacin and folic acid, antioxidants such as Vitamin C and essential minerals such as copper, iron, zinc and iodine that enable neurotransmitter functions.
Symptoms Of Schizophrenia
Signs of schizophrenia maybe divided into three categories: positive, negative and cognitive.
- Positive symptoms include delusions, one of the most common schizophrenic symptoms. Delusions may involve a complete break from reality or misinterpretation of reality. Schizophrenics may often complain of hearing voices or visions amounting to hallucinations. Organizing their speech and thought pose a challenge for schizophrenic patients. Garbled speech or long pauses between sentences are characteristic of this symptom. Meaningless actions, childlike behavior and impulsive rage or agitation comprises other symptoms of schizophrenia.
- Negative symptoms may manifest themselves early on and indicate absence of normal function. Lack of motivation, difficulty in building personal relationships, turning away from day to day activities and absence of emotion or social graces are some of the negative symptoms of schizophrenia.
- Cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia may occur as congenital defects. However, they may, worsen with time and perhaps are the most challenging aspects of schizophrenia. Individuals may suffer from memory problems, inability to concentrate and may have problems making sense of oral-visual information.
- Other symptoms may include moodiness, odd behavior, depression and anxiety.
Causes of schizophrenia range from genetic influences to environmental factors.
- A family history of schizophrenia or other mental illness increases the risk of this condition.
- Trauma may bring on neurotransmitter dysfunction causing schizophrenia. While no specific cause maybe explained, experts do agree that schizophrenia is a brain disease.
- Changes in structure or chemistry of the brain may lead to symptoms of schizophrenia, which may worsen over time.
Schizophrenia is a lifelong, chronic condition and symptoms maybe managed through medication and therapy. However, the conditions do not subside completely and may require familial support and health care providers in the form of social workers, psychiatrists, nurses, doctors and nutritionists to control symptoms.
- Treatment for schizophrenia may include drugs and medications that control the effects of brain neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. These brain chemicals malfunction to create symptoms of schizophrenia.
- While medication may require cooperation from the patient, hospitalization and injections maybe considered for schizophrenic individuals whose symptoms deteriorate or turn uncontrollable.
- Antipsychotic drugs used in conventional treatments pose side effects including irreversible movement disorders. Newer antipsychotic drugs have fewer serious side effects, which may include rapid weight gain, diabetes and high cholesterol.
- Combined efforts at medication and therapy may help control the symptoms of schizophrenia. Individuals may need to undergo social skills training, rehabilitation and employment training, individual and family counseling.
- Home remedies focus on understanding relapse symptoms. Diet plays an important role in controlling aspects of schizophrenia. Home remedies use effective meal plans to ensure nutrient supply.
- Medical tests may involve a battery of laboratory tests to check brain function as well as physical evaluation. Neuroimaging studies such as MRI and CT scans maybe used to identify brain chemistry or change in brain structure.
- Psychological evaluation may constitute mood assessment, communication and behavior patterns, mental health and observation of any delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thoughts, understanding and responding to information and violent or suicidal tendencies.
Early diagnosis of symptoms may help manage schizophrenia. While there is no complete cure for the condition and a relapse may occur, timely medication and therapy can help control symptoms. Family support is essential for prevention of schizophrenia. Coping with side effects of medication, staying on top of nutrition and hygiene, learning social skills and vocational training for employment is part of the regimen for preventing complications.
Schizophrenia diagnosis may necessitate undergoing laboratory tests, physical and psychological evaluation. Individuals have to meet certain criteria that rule out similar symptoms from other mental disorders or substance abuse.
Diagnosis may include-
- Individuals suffering from symptoms of schizophrenia for longer than six months
- Unable to perform day to day activities, inability to work or go to school
- Individuals show at least two of the following symptoms of schizophrenia – delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech or behavior, inability to process information, garbled speech, uncoordinated actions, inability to connect thoughts to actions and impulsive or childish behavior.