March 30th is World Bipolar Day.
Bipolar disorder effects nearly 6 million Americans. Unfortunately, the underlying cause is still very much misunderstood and since this condition is attached to much guilt and shame, people often go untreated or even worse, are misdiagnosed.
My personal physician, Dr. Albert Mensah of Mensah Medical states “Bipolar disorder is an umbrella term. Patients fit into four distinct biotypes, as discovered through research at the Walsh Research Institute where 1500 cases of bipolar disorder have been studied, and where hundreds of thousands of blood and chemistry results are stored.”
Bipolar Disorder has 4 Common Biochemical Phenotypes
Undermethylation – serotonin and dopamine
Overmethylation – serotonin and dopamine
Copper/ Zinc Imbalance – norepinephrine and dopamine
Severe Oxidative Stress – detrimental effect NMDA receptor (N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor)
Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder
One specific phenotype of bipolar disorder is caused by an underlying severe oxidative stress imbalance due to the presence of kryptopyrroles in the urine, which is commonly called pyroluria or pyrrole disorder. If this condition is present it means that stress will cause depletion of various vital nutrients. Deficiencies in these nutrients will affect mood and behavior.
Other Clinical Factors that May Also Mimic Bipolar Disorder
Clinically, what takes on a bipolar appearance in terms of symptoms can fluctuate based on environmental and physical biochemical variations in individuals.
With so many clinical factors to consider, the first question that should be asked with a bipolar diagnosis is “Is the patient truly bipolar or in need of a dietary change?” The foods you consume daily may seem benign on the surface (especially healthy foods), but underneath, is a complex web of nutrients, chemicals, and elements, that may be toxic to you based on your unique biochemical blueprint.
The key to relief is in understanding your biochemical blueprint, which requires a paradigm shift in how you approach eating. This does not mean you need to be a perfect eater (there’s no such thing), nor does it mean you can’t enjoy flavorful foods. It simply means honoring who you really are via your food choices, which is the opposite of our world today, with its plethora of dietary theories and dogma that only serve to create more confusion and health problems.
If you struggle with bipolar disorder, here are a few things to consider:
Animal protein (not plant based proteins) imparts a calming and stabilizing effect. It’s also a great source of brain loving zinc and vitamin B6, nutrients critical for a healthy brain.
High stress levels frequently lead to hypoglycemia and other blood sugar imbalances. Because animal protein is calming to the nervous system, eating a protein-rich meal every three hours can be very helpful. This is especially important in cases of severe oxidative stress, such as those with pyrrole disorder and copper/zinc imbalances.
Omega 3 fats are not for everyone. In those with pyrrole disorder, they create inflammation, while omega 6 fats provide anti-inflammatory protection. Note: in most cases, this does not mean fish requires exclusion, but it’s very important to steer clear of fish oil supplements.
Plant-based diets are high in copper and folate, and tend to increase the frequency of episodes. Note: folate has a calming effect on overmethylators, but this does not mean a vegan/vegetarian diet is appropriate; animal protein is still required for these individuals to thrive.
Sugar causes the body to release adrenaline. If histamine is too high (undermethylation), eating sugar can cause adrenaline levels to spike, which in turn creates nervous energy and possible panic attacks. Same holds true for coffee and similar types of stimulants.
The high fat craze has garnered a lot of attention, but can also increase frequency and severity of symptoms. Everyone’s fat requirements vary, but I don’t consider putting a stick of butter in your morning coffee to be the wisest choice.
In cases of yeast toxicity, animal protein is very healing (along with homemade bone broth for those that are not intolerant to free glutamates), because of its inability to provide food for them. Common triggers for yeast toxicity include sugar (natural and processed), vinegar, alcohol, most fermented foods, and simple carbohydrates.
Undermethylators thrive on high protein diets, while high folate foods increase symptoms. Note: a high histamine reading does not mean you need to avoid high histamine foods. Histamine intolerance is a separate issue from undermethylation, however, it is possible to be undermethylated and have an intolerance to high histamine foods along with supplement sensitivity.
Those with mast cell disorders or histamine intolerance often find relief on a low histamine diet along with avoidance or minimization of foods high in one or more of the following: salicylate, oxalate, glutamate, and often sulfur, while nutrient needs and imbalances are addressed. Learn more here.
If you know of someone who struggles with bipolar disorder, please share this post. If you struggle with it, please share your experience in the comments below. It is through sharing your story that we create community, eliminate guilt and shame, and bring about healing.