Schizophrenia is a difficult malady, both to diagnose and to treat. It’s defined as any of a group of psychotic disorders usually characterized by withdrawal from reality, illogical patterns of thinking, delusions, and hallucinations, and accompanied in varying degrees by other emotional, behavioral, or intellectual disturbances. Recent research suggests that those who suffer from schizophrenia could benefit from incorporating more B3 (niacin), essential fatty acids (EFAs) and eating more whole grain carbohydrates to help level out blood sugar levels so that bouts with hypoglycemia are lessened.
Food sources high in niacin include light-meat chicken, tuna, salmon, turkey, enriched flour, peanuts, and fortified cereals. Niacin is an important player in the digestion process, and it aids in converting food into energy. Therefore, it also plays a role in the essential fatty acid metabolism of the brain, processes of which are disrupted in schizophrenia.
Because these processes are disrupted in the brain, it’s imperative that essential fatty acids are a base in the diet of a schizophrenic patient. Since they can’t be synthesized by the body, they must be obtained from food. Look to fish, shellfish, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, dark green leafy vegetables and walnuts for EFAs. Essential fatty acids play a part in many metabolic processes, and there is evidence to suggest that low levels of essential fatty acids, or the wrong balance of types among the essential fatty acids, may be a factor in a number of illnesses, including schizophrenia.
Some schizophrenic patients also suffer from bouts of hypoglycemia, which can be greatly helped by choosing healthy, whole grain carbohydrates such as whole grain breads and pastas, as they help the body maintain a steady blood glucose level. Other research shows that some schizophrenic patients suffer from food allergies that greatly affect their thinking and behavior. For this reason, keeping a detailed food journal and paying close attention to moods and thinking patterns after eating is imperative.
Research has also shown that some schizophrenic patients suffer from high levels of copper, an essential metallic element that can adversely affect the brain in high doses. Vitamin B6, found in bananas, turkey and spinach, as well as zinc, found in red meats, peanuts, chickpeas and almonds, can help remove excess copper from the body.