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Living a Full Life with Schizophrenia

The Schizophrenia Diet

The Schizophrenia Diet

As a schizophrenic, the most important task in order to remain as fully functional as possible is to mitigate symptoms.  Managing your symptoms is a multifaceted task, requiring large amounts of discipline in every area of life.  And if you begin researching the fact, you will find lots of pop psychology advice, such as “Laughter is the best medicine” or “A strong body makes a strong mind.”  Well, of course we should laugh and exercise.  But today we are going to move beyond these platitudes and get into the specifics of the schizophrenia diet!

It has been said, “Let food be thy medicine.”  Regardless of who you are, your lifestyle, your challenges, or your occupation, having a well-balanced diet is a must.  But that is a pretty broad statement, because every person is an individual, and a brain with neurochemical imbalances will require a different balance of food intake as opposed to a more well-adjusted brain.  As you would suspect, there are dietary modifications that can be adopted in order to adapt to the specific needs of the schizophrenic brain.  Let us take a look!

A Diet for Schizophrenia

The two words schizophrenia and diet are rarely said together.  People tend to turn to psychiatric medicines and psychotherapies before going back to the basics of a proper, fit lifestyle.  Beyond the guidelines that are recommended for everyone by the United States Department of Agriculture, what information has been gathered through meticulous scientific research that can benefit those dealing with schizophrenia?

Sugar and Schizophrenia

All you have to do is feed a child a bowl of commercial cereal and you will quickly understand the relationship between sugar and schizophrenia and any other mental illness.  The child will be bouncing off the walls like a manic lil’ monster!  I know that I am personally very sensitive to sugar and was even before the onset of any symptoms.

A study in 2004 showed that the intake of refined sugar above the national average led to less recovery over a two year period in schizophrenics.  Eating too much sugar literally meant a worse prognosis for at least two years!  That is horrible.  Why does this happen?

Refined sugar are not ‘refined’ in the sense that they are better.  They are actually simple starches, which inhibit specific hormones that flow through the brain in order to help with the maintenance of neurons, specifically dendrite health.  Dendrites are the connectors that attach neurons to one another, between which neurotransmitters flow in the synapse.  You can see why this would be important!

It is also known that sustained inflated levels of sugars in the body can cause chronic inflammation in the brain.  A reduction in sugar and inflammation has a positive correlation with the reduction of depression and an increase in energy, focus and clarity, and happiness.  There have been self-reports regarding a ketogenic diet as well, which is a diet that limits the intake of carbohydrates that become sugars during metabolization.  Secondary benefits are the reduced risk of diabetes and obesity.

Gluten and Schizophrenia

For as many as four decades now, there has been talk amongst the medical community regarding a connection between gluten and mental illnesses such as schizophrenia.  Many people are familiar with gluten and its relation to celiac disease and other food sensitivity problems.  Gluten is found in grains, which is unfortunately included in almost any processed meal.  However, there are entire sections of grocery stores now devoted to gluten-free products.

There is no certainty as to why this is the case, but removing gluten from the diet has coincided with the positive progression of symptoms in a portion of schizophrenics.  Causation has not been determined, only correlation, but it is certainly a step to be taken if there is a chance of reducing the severity of symptoms.  Secondary benefits of reducing the intake of gluten is an improvement in the digestion process and an enhanced mental clarity.

Omega 3 and Schizophrenia

Omega 3 fatty acids and other essential fatty acids (EFA’s) are big time culprits in many people’s dietary issues.  The body must have omega 3 in order to produce new cellular membranes.  The only problem is that body doesn’t produce these compounds itself.  These nutrients are found in fish, and for many people who do not live near a coastal region, the price of fish can become outlandish and scarce in the diet.  Fortunately there are fish oil supplements that are commonly available at reasonable prices that can help solve this problem.

It is not just the average person who is lacking omega 3 and EFA’s.  There is much documentation regarding the specific lack of omega 3 in the schizophrenic diet and its beneficial role in the treatment of symptoms.  We mentioned the role of these compounds in the production of cell membranes.  Well guess what neurons are?  They are cells, and having strong membranes and myelin sheaths on the dendrites means better electrochemical communication.  This can lead to a direct reduction of symptoms for the schizophrenic and better functioning for anyone.  Secondary benefits to taking essential fatty acids are the benefit to cardiovascular health, lower cholesterol levels, and an increased health of joints.

B Vitamins and Schizophrenia

Taking a B-complex vitamin is really a must for anyone as it is required for brain function in many ways.  The B vitamins, ranging from B1 through B12, are pertinent in the removal of free radicals in the brain.  As antioxidants, they perform this task well, even removing homocysteine, an enemy of the neural networks communication abilities.  B3 specifically, called Niacin, plays a role in maintaining a stable mood, the reduction of headaches, and other psychological issues.

Taking a B-complex, then, especially for a person living with schizophrenia, should show a marked improvement in cognitive functioning.  There are also secondary benefits, such as enhanced memory and energy levels.  B-vitamins are metabolized along with many other nutrients in the body, so taking a multi-vitamin can serve to replenish all of these that could be lacking.

The Schizophrenia and Diet Connection

As explained, the average person not dealing with forms of mental illness can even benefit from following the details of the schizophrenia diet!  Just as you should have a daily exercise routine, healthy forms of entertainment, and effective coping methods, you should also have a nutritious and well-balanced diet.  This will serve you well in reducing symptoms and maintaining the positive gains you make in your treatment.

9 Comments

  1. Very good article. I really like your approach differentiating between causality and correlation. As a reader I felt you expected a certain level of judgement and intelligence from me. I appreciate that. Thanks you for the advice. I can understand how it can be applied to people with out schizophrenia as well.

    Thanks!

  2. Funny thing, I’m alergic to gluten! So that works out great for me!

  3. Thank you for the article. I’d just like to add that Omega 3 is available in more than just fish. You should check out the ratios for naturally raised (grass-fed), pastured animals. The ratio of Omega 3 to 6 is quite different than in mass-produced, factory animals. So, not only are you getting the best ratio available, you are avoiding all the health-destroying properties of factory farmed animals (fed garbage and GMO grains, illnesses, antibiotics, etc). In this way it is possible to get the best Omega 3 without using supplements (which will never be as good as food). As you said above, “let FOOD be your medicine.” (Hippocrates)
    I also would like to point out the importance of eating healthy fats. These are necessary for proper brain function and also have the best ratio of Omega 3 vs 6. Coconut oil, butter, virgin olive oil, lard, tallow; these are sources of good fats.
    I encourage you to check these things out.

    ~Karen

    • Karen, I had no idea that you could derive the Omegas from much more than sea creatures. Thanks for letting us know. I’m going to have to look more into this! Also, I totally agree with the Hippocrates quote. Preventative medicine is the best kind for sure!

  4. I tried to go gluten free and it didn’t do anything for my symptoms.i will have to try omega 3 though. I’m looking for anything that can help with the voices that I have.

  5. I stopped eating sugar and grains especially gluten, walk an hour a day, practice living in the present moment and practice gratitude for everything. I haven’t taken any medication
    for schizophrenia for six months and have no symptoms.

  6. Hi Rayla, that’s amazing 🙂 did you cut out sugars from fruit as well? I ask as I have schizophrenia and don’t eat grains either though I do eat a lot of fruit.
    Thanks

  7. Has anyone tried or heard of PHOSPHATIDYLCHOLINE? If so, is it recommended?

  8. Does anybody know why people with schizophrenia are super sensitive to sugar and gluten

Click Your State to View the Surrounding Schizophrenia Treatment Centers

To view the the schizophrenia treatment centers in your local area, please click the state in which you live on the map above or find your state in the alphabetized links above. Each respective page will lists the name, address, and contact number for each individual treatment center. You may also visit the top level page of the directory by clicking here and navigate further from there.
Read the description and visit the personal webpage of each treatment center to find out more information. You can contact them from there, but we understand that this is a tedious and intimidating process, so we've provided a form you can fill out with the requested information and we'll set you up with the most appropriate treatment center for your needs.
If you require further assistance, please don't hesitate to contact us at Schiz Life. We are here to serve the needs of the schizophrenia community and are happy to do so!

Schiz Life - Living With Schizophrenia

living with schizophrenia
For many of us, living with schizophrenia is our reality. And instead of struggling with the wish of how things “could be,” we finally come to an acceptance of our predicament and ultimately we embrace the fact of our lives: We are people dealing with schizophrenia. So then the question becomes not “Why” we suffer from this illness, but “How” we will cope and continue to enjoy our lives. We certainly will not give up! We have every right to demand the niceties, freedoms, and enjoyments of life to which all living creatures are entitled. This is what Schiz Life is all about.

Mission Statement Concerning Schizophrenia Information and Culture

Schiz Life serves to…

  • • Provide a safe haven for persons who wish to converse, cope, and share their experiences with schizophrenia in a positive manner in an attempt to celebrate the beauty of life, especially concerning our unique perspective on existence.
  • • Provide the highest quality of information concerning our psychological difficulties, including a frame of reference on the symptoms, treatment, history, and the future of schizophrenia.
  • • Take corrective action to dispel the myths and stigma surrounding schizophrenia, such as false ideas surrounding the cause, associations with violence, and others, all being perpetuated by the media by providing truth through scientific research and statistics.

Schiz Life intends to achieve this goal in the following manner:

The Schiz Life Schizophrenia Action Plan

  1. 1. We will continue to take advantage of internet outreach, contacting news agencies and other medical bloggers in hopes that they will join us in raising awareness of schizophrenia.
  2. 2. We will continue to promote this website through video and media outlets, including the dissemination of informational videos and graphics such as the first official schizophrenia infographic.
  3. 3. We will all contribute where possible off-line, including at health expo’s, psychology conferences, and any other relevant opportunity to spread the good word.

Thank You for Your Part in the Schizophrenia Journey!

We all thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for playing your role in the developing journey surrounding schizophrenia awareness and research. With all of our combined efforts, we will change the way the world perceives this illness and we will advance the medical efforts of professionals in their search for a cure and effective medicines. Thank you again!

Do Your Part!

Do you know of a great schizophrenia resource out there? Let us know! Do you see a person in need inside the comments of this site? Lend them some advice or encouragement! Are you a graphic designer or artist? Show us your work and I'm sure we can find some way to include your skills here on the site. Are you a writer who would like to contribute to the site? Shoot us an email and we'll discuss it. This site is for all of us and excludes none of us. Contact us for any reason and get involved!

Who Else is Helping?

Our content has been linked to or distributed by...

Mental Health TalkHealthy DebateTechnorati
Wellness WordworksVisuallyexaminer

...and also the sites listed below and more!

Try This Quick Schizophrenia Mini-Quiz:

This is but a quick quiz to test your general knowledge of schizophrenia. If you would like to take the extended and in-depth quiz, venture over to our Schizophrenia Quiz page and see just how much you know! Try the Schizophrenia Test to gauge your symptom levels.

Schizophrenia Quiz Directions: Please select the correct answer for each question and then press the button below to grade your quiz.

1. What is the term for perceiving stimuli that doesn't exist?




2. Which is NOT a type of schizophrenia?




3. Which of the following is a symptom of schizophrenia?




4. How common is schizophrenia in the general population?




5. Who can diagnose a case of schizophrenia?




6. How can schizophrenia be treated?




7. Are the causes of schizophrenia genetic or environmental?




8. What is the most common age of onset?




9. Catatonia is categorized as what type of symptom?




10. Is Schiz Life the best website about schizophrenia?




 

Show me the answers!

 

Question 1: The correct answer is the Hallucination.
Question 2: The correct answer is Hyperlipid.
Question 3: The correct answer is All of the Above.
Question 4: The correct answer is 1%.
Question 5: The correct answer is A Doctor.
Question 6: The correct answer is All of the Above Should Be Used.
Question 7: The correct answer is Both.
Question 8: The correct answer is 25.
Question 9: The correct answer is Negative.
Question 10: The correct answer is DON'T BE A PARTY POOPER!.
You answered them all right! Good job! You know a little something about schizophrenia, don't you!

 

How To Use This Site

If you're brand new to this site, it might look overwhelming until you get a sense of where things are at.  Schiz Life is a content-based site, much like a newspaper or a magazine.  However, we focus strictly and solely on schizophrenia.  So where does all of this content reside?  We have decided to separate our articles into several categories, as described below:

Basics

This category will be of the most interest to those who wish to gain a very broad but shallower overview of the entirety of the academic view of schizophrenia.  We cover all of the topics you'd expect to find in an abnormal psychology text book here, and at a similar depth.  It is a great introduction to this illness and will guide you further along into deeper topics.

Knowledge

We cover various angles such as statistics, research, and more factually based views of schizophrenia and place them in this category.  One could say that it is almost a repository for article that don't fit into the other categories, but it is more than that.  Go check it to find out more!

Treatment

The name says it all.  This category of content covers all topics related to the treatment and prevention of schizophrenia and its relapses.  We've started with the empirically sound and scientifically backed methods first, but we intend to venture into more holistic and alternative therapies as well.  Without investigating all options, progress wont' be made, and so we do.

Symptoms

There are countless symptoms involved in schizophrenia. We cover them in depth in this category, including the positive (outward) and negative (inward) symptoms of every type of this disorder.  There is much to read here, so if a particular symptom is giving you or a loved one trouble, this is the place to go and learn more about it.

Coping

What use is all of this information when we simply don't feel good enough to read it and learn?  The category for coping provides many ideas that you can apply to your own life to help you maintain the best health possible, physically, psychologically, and spiritually.  Schizophrenia is a mental illness that some of us simply cannot escape, but we can learn to live with it, minimize its problematic aspects, and take advantage of some of the aspects it unlocks within us that others don't have!

Culture

Let's face it.  People are afraid of what they don't understand.  This category addresses the cultural issue of schizophrenia and it's impacts on the way we are treated or perceived by the masses.  It is up to us to represent ourselves in the best light and to combat the myths and misunderstandings that exist in the world concerning our plight.  Learn about these issues here and apply them in your lives!

Spectrum

There are other classifications of illnesses that are very closely related to schizophrenia.  The only differences might just be a research label actually, but we have found it useful to place these articles in a category of their own.  We deal with schizophreniform and psychosis disorders and their respective symptoms here.

Spirituality

While the medical community deals with schizophrenia as a psychological or physical disorder of the brain, those of us who actually experience it know it is much more.  It is a philosophical, spiritual, metaphysical, and mythological issue.  Coming to terms with this, confronting it, integrating it, and reconciling it leads to much higher functioning not only as an individual diagnosed with schizophrenia but as a member of society in general.  We have a deeper access to this aspect of life and have a great opportunity for learning and healing.

Artwork

Many of us past and present have chosen to express ourselves through the arts.  Whether this is painting and drawing, poetry, dancing, or any other artform, it is healthy and beautiful.  We are writing biographies, displaying artwork, and welcoming submissions from our own community to be included here in this category!  Please submit if you have something to share!

News

The internet has opened up the world.  There is a constant flow of news concerning our illness but you wouldn't know it by watching the television.  We cover new research topics, treatment modalities, and nationwide and worldwide coverage of schizophrenia or incidents related to it in this category!

Other Items

We have also included other items of interest throughout our website.  For instance, we are producing a series of infographics to help educate the public on this topic.  We also are collecting and reviewing books concerning the illness.  In addition, we have created a directory for the United States of all treatment facilities and hospitals that have staff that are trained to work with schizophrenia cases.  Please look around and find these sections and more.

Disclaimer

There is something that was slightly mentioned in the footer of the site, but that could be overlooked easily so we felt it was the responsible thing to do to create a large disclaimer to be displayed here on the homepage.  This has to do completely with safety.  Let us explain.

Individual Uniqueness

unique individualEvery individual on this planet is a unique person.  Even more so, those of us dealing with this special psychological difficulty are even more unique, if that makes sense.  On this site, we are talking about one of the most complex brain mysteries ever and it expresses itself through every person differently.  Every case is going to have it's own peculiarities and all we are able to do in the articles on the site is speak in generalities.  We invite anyone to leave appropriate comments and engage in discussion, however we can't take responsibility for their words.  Nor can we take responsibility for the actions of any individual or group who have at one time or another visited our website.

Always Consult a Medical Professional

medical professionalIf you find yourself in a situation where you're trying to learn more about your condition or are trying to cope through a moment of crisis, please do not act upon any of the information listed on this site, whether in the main content or comments, without first corroborating the accuracy of the info with a medical professional first.  Reach out to a general practitioner, psychiatrist, psychologist, or counselor.  Even then it's always helpful to have a second opinion from a separate professional as well.  Again, we must stress... always act with safety as the foremost concern, and this means consulting professionals before engaging in any practice intended to treat your condition.

Please Be Considerate About Delusions

delusion discussionWe understand that delusions can be very confusing and convincing.  We also understand that delusions can center around topics that simply are too philosophical to be proven wrong or correct and thus are tempting to explore in-depth.  We have no problem with this exploration as long as it is not harmful to those discussing it.  Please use your best discretion in this regard.  If the staff of Schiz Life step in and begin deleting comments or halting a conversation, please respect their decision and understand it is not personal.

Investigating delusions is encouraged.  Delusions are interesting due to their nature of being understood as strange and outside the norm of the culture of the experiencer, but there is a vast number of individuals visiting this site from many cultures.  There is a subtle difference between discussing these topics, and encouraging or trolling.  Please find that balance and abide by the above suggestions.

We also, under no circumstances, will tolerate anyone discussing or suggesting harming themselves or others.  Past-tense symptom discussion in this regard is fine, but nothing in the future tense will be allowed.

General Discussion Guidelines

We encourage discussion in the comments as much as possible and are looking into offering a forum and personal blogs as well.  In all of these mediums when carrying on conversation, there are some useful questions to ask yourself before posting that comment or response.

The main question to ask yourself is the following:

Is what I'm about to post going to help and support or will it further entrench illness and suffering?

Please consider this as you enjoy Schiz Life.  Try not to post angry or hurtful comments.  Try not to criticize or blame others.  Be as supportive, encouraging, and respecting as you can.  Accepting and negotiating differences is key to carrying on constructive conversation.

Remember, there is a real person on the other side of the screen.  It's easy to assume the other person is in a similar situation as yourself, but you don't know the extent of their emotions, symptoms, nor their age or even gender.

Let's Do This Together!

Let's have a supportive and comforting community where we all feel open and able to share as much as possible.  If you receive support from someone, please pay that forward and try to help out someone else.  If we all do this, we should all be okay!  Thank you for reading and enjoying this thing we are building together.

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