Last week I picked up Nina Planck’s book, Real Food: What to Eat and Why. So far I’m impressed. And since her book is not the first to mention Weston A. Price (I originally read it in Primal Body, Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas) I felt the book deserved a look. I’m learning a bit more about why Omega 3’s are so important, especially for Mental Health.
As many of you may or may not know, I was diagnosed with Bipolar I disorder as well as Borderline Personality Disorder many years ago as I entered my teens. I had a troubled childhood, rife with abandonment and abuse. Between the way I was raised and poor nutrition, I don’t think I stood a chance. However, my recovery is solely my responsibility. I am also a recovering addict, and I have to say that taking away the chemicals I abused, whether in the form of food or otherwise, is a difficult thing to do. As with any drug (be it sugar or cocaine) the potential for relapse is high. I have gone to my fair share of 12 Step meetings and rehabs and for some reason it never really worked for me. While there are a lot of good people in those rooms, I somehow attracted the most toxic people or those who thought I should stop taking my antidepressants, or that my insomnia “wouldn’t kill me.”
So as I was reading Planck’s book last night I decided to Google “Omega 3’s for Borderline Personality Disorder.” The reason for this is because emotional regulation is hard for me, still, even though I’m clean and sober. At this stage of my sobriety, I thought I’d be a little less raw, but I feel even more raw than ever before. I seem to lack a “filter” so to speak in my brain. I hear every little sound and latch on to it and the slightest noise can sound like a thunderclap and I’m still very easily overstimulated. I wondered if I needed to supplement with Omega 3 Fish Oil because I haven’t been getting to the seafood market in the last 5 months. A couple years ago I ate sushi grade tuna at least once a week and love salmon roe, smoked salmon and lox. It’s time to get back in the habit of doing that, and writing this post is my reminder to myself of the importance of eating fish.
I was raised in Louisiana and as a child I ate a lot of oysters, shrimp, crawfish and catfish. Somewhere along the line I forgot to keep eating seafood.
In fact, a study from the Indiana University School of Medicine has shown that eating or supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids (found in an abundance in certain types of fish such as wild salmon) can help people suffering from mental imbalances such as bipolar disorder as well as alcoholism. Researchers found that the consumption of the fatty acid DHA “normalized“ the behavior of bipolar mice. (1).
“The mice that were given DHA normalized their behavior, they were not depressed and when subjected to stress, they did not become manic,” expounded, Alexander B Niculescu, MD, PhD associate professor of psychiatry and the lead author of the study. “When we looked into their brains, using comprehensive gene expression studies, we were surprised to see that genes that are known targets of psychiatric medications were modulated and normalized by DHA.”
According to the Newsroom at Indiana University:
“Omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial for more than just the heart. Research at the Indiana University School of Medicine disclosed at a molecular level a potential therapeutic benefit between these dietary supplements, alcohol abuse and psychiatric disorders.
In a multi-year study, researchers showed conclusive behavioral and molecular benefits for omega-3 fatty acid given to mice models of bipolar disorder. The fatty acid DHA, which is one of the main active ingredients in fish oil, “normalized their behavior,” according to Alexander B. Niculescu, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry and the lead author of the study reported online in the Nature Publishing Group journal Translational Psychiatry.”
So, it looks as if supplementing with Fish Oil is a terrific idea, especially for someone like me who has been on every antidepressant medication out there. While Zoloft had the best results for me, it still gave me insomnia and eventually it quit working all together. Now, I take Tramadol for my neck and back pain, and while the SNRI function of it definitely works on my depression, it too can cause me to have a sleepless night as well as a tendency to induce mania. So I think supplementing with Fish Oil in that respect can definitely help me a lot.
That being said, it’s of utmost importance that I eat Real Food. My body and my brain both depend on it not just to survive, but to THRIVE!
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
I found something useful on the Weston A. Price foundation’s website that I thought I would share with you, my readers. It’s their Dietary Guidelines, a stark contrast to the one’s given to us by the FDA. I left all the guidelines in tact, with the exception of number 14. I’m not convinced that stevia is safe yet, since it’s relatively new on the market. For a terrific evidence based article on the value of coconut sugar, see Kris Gunnars’ website, Authority Nutrition.
DIETARY GUIDELINES from WESTON A. PRICE FOUNDATION
- Eat whole, natural foods.
- Eat only foods that will spoil, but eat them before they do.
- Eat naturally-raised meat including fish, seafood, poultry, beef, lamb, game, organ meats and eggs.
- Eat whole, naturally-produced milk products from pasture-fed cows, preferably raw and/or fermented, such as whole yogurt, cultured butter, whole cheeses and fresh and sour cream.
- Use only traditional fats and oils including butter and other animal fats, extra virgin olive oil, expeller expressed sesame and flax oil and the tropical oils—coconut and palm.
- Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably organic, in salads and soups, or lightly steamed.
- Use whole grains and nuts that have been prepared by soaking, sprouting or sour leavening to neutralize phytic acid and other anti-nutrients.
- Include enzyme-enhanced lacto-fermented vegetables, fruits, beverages and condiments in your diet on a regular basis.
- Prepare homemade meat stocks from the bones of chicken, beef, lamb or fish and use liberally in soups and sauces.
- Use herb teas and coffee substitutes in moderation.
- Use filtered water for cooking and drinking.
- Use unrefined Celtic sea salt and a variety of herbs and spices for food interest and appetite stimulation.
- Make your own salad dressing using raw vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and expeller expressed flax oil.
- Use natural sweeteners in moderation, such as raw local honey or coconut sugar.
- Use only unpasteurized wine or beer in strict moderation with meals.
- Cook only in stainless steel, cast iron, glass or good quality enamel.
- Use only natural supplements.
- Get plenty of sleep, exercise and natural light.
- Think positive thoughts and minimize stress.
- Practice forgiveness.