MORE than 80 people with bipolar disorder participated in a study in which half of them received diet counseling and ate specific foods for 12 weeks.
The researchers decreased the experimental group’s consumption of omega-6 fatty acids by limiting red meat, eggs, and certain oils and increased their consumption of omega-3 fatty acids by adding flaxseed and fatty fish.
The participants completed twice daily surveys about their mood, pain, and other symptoms on smartphones. Those who followed the experimental diet showed improved mood variability.
A study in the journal Bipolar DisordersTrusted Source suggests that individuals with bipolar disorder who adjust their intake of specific fatty acids may experience less variability in their moods.
Nearly 3% of people in the United States have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
People with this condition may experience dramatic shifts in their moods, energy levels, and sleep patterns.
These shifts in mood may include manic or hypomanic episodes, during which the person feels extreme elation or irritability. During episodes of bipolar depression, they may experience feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
Several studiesTrusted Source have suggested that there may be a relationship between the consumption of seafood rich in omega-3 fatty acids and a lower prevalence of bipolar disorders.
However, studiesTrusted Source looking at the effects of fish oil supplements on the condition have found no such link.
Dr. Erika Saunders, an author of the study and professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, explained the design of the study to Medical News Today.
She said that the researchers wanted to see whether making a dietary change “for a very specific biological reason could alter mood stability or improve mood variability” in people with bipolar disorder. ResearchTrusted Source has shown that medications that doctors commonly use for treating bipolar disorder can change how the body breaks down fatty acids.
The Penn State College of Medicine researchers hypothesized that by changing the type and number of fatty acids in the diet, the body would generate metabolites with specific purposes, such as reducing inflammation or pain.