DIET AND FITNESS:

Foods That Fight Schizophrenia--
An Ideal Diet
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My Heart Attack-Personal Stories from Survivors
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How Much Sugar Is In My Food?
February 3, 2010

By Susan M. Callahan, Associate Editor
and Featured Columnist

Remember when our children were young and ready to start
school? What care we took when we packed their lunches.
When they grow older, and enter teenage years, we often
stop. Now, new research into schizophrenia, the disabling
mental disorder that strikes the young in their teenage and
college years, may make you start packing those lunches
again. Or at least to arm your young adult child with
important dietary information.   

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that affects 2.4 million
Americans.  According to the American Psychiatric
Association, people with schizophrenia can have symptoms
including severe paranoia, hearing voices, believing that
people or objects such as radios are putting thoughts in
their heads, or believing that they have magical powers.  

Schizophrenia often strikes young people during the early
years of their lives, from teenage years to age 25. Many
historical figures have had schizophrenia, including Nobel-
prize winning mathematician John Nash, the subject of the
Russell Crowe movie “A Beautiful Mind”, and reportedly
Mary Todd Lincoln, the wife of President Abraham Lincoln.

Scientists have long believed that schizophrenia is caused by
a chemical imbalance in the brain but have struggled to
precisely identify what chemicals are out of balance.
However, 15 studies, have observed that the autopsied
brains of schizophrenics have low levels of lipids (oil),
particularly EPA, an essential fatty acid found in fish oil.

Schizophrenia typically appears after a early, pre-onset
period which can last 30 months. During the pre-onset
period, you may notice symptoms including sleeping too
much or not being able to sleep much at all, social
withdrawal, irritability and mood swings.  From 20 to 40%
of people who experience pre-onset symptoms go on to
develop full-blown schizophrenia.

Can schizophrenia be treated with foods during the early pre-
onset phase? Are there diets that can help prevent these
early symptoms from developing full-blown schizophrenia?

New research suggests that there is in fact an ideal diet to
prevent the development of full-blown schizophrenia.

Omega-3's Interrupt the Progression of Schizophrenia

An important new study from the Medical University of
Vienna in Austria has found that omega-3 fatty acids can be
a powerful ally in stopping early pre-onset symptoms from
developing into full-blown schizophrenia.

The new study examined  81 young people, aged 13 to 25,
who had exhibited early signs of schizophrenia. To be
included in the study, the young people had to have shown
early signs of schizophrenia during the year leading up to
the study. Many of them had sought out psychiatric help
after having temporary bouts of suspiciousness,
disorganized thinking or hallucinations but these symptoms
had lasted a week or less and had disappeared without need
for medication.

The researchers divided the 81 patients into 2 groups. 41 of
the patients in the study were given 1200 mg yellow gelatin
fish oil pills for 4 months. The active ingredients in the fish
oil pills were 700 milligrams of eicosapentaenoic acid (also
known as EPA), 500 milligrams of docosahexaenoic acid
(DHA) and 10 milligrams of Vitamin E.

The remaining 40 of the group received a dummy “placebo”
which looked identical to the  yellow gelatin pill given to the
first group, but made up of coconut oil, 10 milligrams of  fish
oil without the EPA and DHA simply to mimic  the taste and
10 milligrams of Vitamin E.  

After a year, 2 out of the 41 people (5%) who had taken the
fish oil pills with omega-3 fatty acids had developed
schizophrenia psychosis.  In the placebo group, 11 out of
the 40 (28%) had developed full-blown schizophrenic
psychosis.

In other words, the group that did not take omega-3 fish oil
supplements suffered almost six times higher rates of
schizophrenia than those who did.

Other studies have noted the promising effectiveness of
omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of psychiatric disorders
including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

A 2008 study from the University of Bologna in Italy looked
at all existing studies on the use of anti-oxidants such as
omega-3 fatty acids in the prevention and treatment of
psychiatric disorders. This mega-study noted that “oxidative
stress” had been found to be present in a range of
psychiatric disorders including autism, Rett’s disorder,
attention-deficit disorder, sexual dysfunction, sleeping
disorders, dementia, hallucinogen-related disorders and
psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.

The Bologna study concluded that  “Most psychiatric
disorders are associated with increased oxidative stress.
Patients suffering from that subgroup of these psychiatric
disorders in which there is increased lipid peroxidation might
therefore benefit from fatty acid supplementation
(preferably with the inclusion of an antioxidant-rich diet)
while patients suffering from all these psychiatric disorders
might benefit from a change to a whole-food plant-based
diet devoid of refined carbohydrate products.”

Ideal Diet for Schizophrenia

Drawing from these studies and others that have reached
the same conclusions, here is an ideal diet to prevent the
onset of schizophrenia:

























1.       
 Salmon. Salmon has one of the highest naturally
occurring concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon is
an almost ideal fish. A 3-ounce serving of wild salmon has
approximately 365 milligrams of EPA and 558 milligrams of
DHA, or a total of 923 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids.
Other fish rich in omega-3’s are sardines and, to a lesser
extent, tuna.

2.        
Omega-3 Enriched Eggs.  Several omega- enriched
foods are available in most markets of the developed world,
including eggs and butter-substitutes. There are three kinds
of omega-3 fatty acids, ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), DFA and
EFA. Our bodies convert ALA into the other two somewhat
inefficiently. So, read the labels of any products to make sure
that they contain EFA and DHA.

3.        
Omega-3 Fish-Oil Supplements. Look carefully at the
label to ensure that your are getting at least 1200 milligrams
per day, the amount used in the Austrian study.

4.        
Pumpkin Seeds and Walnuts. Pumpkin seeds are high
in omega 3 fatty acids. Walnuts have a much lower amount
but are still higher than most other nuts.

4.        
Flaxseed Oil. Flaxseed oil contains more omega-3s
than any other oil.

5.        
Olive Oil. The American diet has an excess of omega-6
fatty acids and a deficieny of omega-3 fatty acids. The
omega-6 fatty acids drive down the levels of omega-3 fatty
acids in your blood stream. As a important tool for elevating
omega-3’s in your diet, you should avoid using oils rich in
omega-6 fatty acids such as canola, sunflower, safflower,
corn oil,  margarine, lard or vegetable oil. Instead, use olive
oil, preferably extra-virgin olive oil. Olive oil is low in no
omega-6 fatty acids.

Omega-6 fatty acids are not “bad”.  The linoleic version of
omega-6 (as opposed to the arachidonic acid version of
omega-6) is quite helpful in lowering heart disease risk and
improving general cardio vascular health. But, if your aim is
to reduce your risk for schizophrenia,  they have no
demonstrated value and could worsen your schizophrenic
risk.

6.
Eat Green, Green, Green. As the Bologna study noted,
eating a anti-oxidant diet rich in green vegetables and low in
white flour, sugar and other refined carbohydrates helps to
lower the oxidative stress in your body, which in turn lowers
your risk for  schizophrenia and a range of other mental
disorders.










You're just getting started. Learn more about the
relationship between your diet and your risk for other
diseases and conditions:
Bipolar Disorder-An Ideal
Diet/ADHD-Causes and Top 10 Natural Remedies /10 Foods
That Fight Depression / How Much Is Too Much Salt?
/
Sugar-The Disease Connection / Are Diet Sodas Bad for
Your Health? / Ideal Breakfast for Diabetics / Ideal
Breakfast for Arthritis /Healing Foods Links /  Foods That
Shrink Your Waist / Foods That Lower Cholesterol/ VLDL-
The Other Cholesterol/ Foods That Reduce Blood Pressure

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