Diet for Schizophrenia – 5 Best Nutrients

This article focuses mainly on diet for schizophrenia, nutrition requirement for schizophrenia, and the foods that should be avoided in schizophrenia. A chart of balanced diet for schizophrenia could be suggested by a nuritionist.

Diet for schizophrenia may include all sorts of nutrients. But one should kept in mind that a balanced diet for schizophrenia do not cure this disease. It only help in surpression of the symptoms.

diet for schizophrenia
FIG1: Expression of schizophrenic patients

 What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a complex psychiatric condition that most typically manifests during adolescence and impacts more than 20 million individuals worldwide. It’s characterized by several serious psychological symptoms, including:

•   Inability to tell the difference between what is genuine and what is not

•   Delusions and hallucinations, as well as related jumbled ideas

•   Avoidance of social situations and uneasiness

•   Personal hygiene issues

•   Loss of enthusiasm for activities

In short, Schizophrenia can be defined as a serious mental illness that affects a person’s ability to think, act, have emotional sensitivity, perceive reality, and interact with others. Schizophrenia is the most persistent and devastating of the major mental diseases, despite its rarity.

Schizophrenia is characterized by psychosis, a mental condition where a person is unable to distinguish between what is real and what is imagined. People suffering from psychotic disorders can lose contact with reality sometimes. The world may appear to be a tangle of perplexing ideas, images, and noises. Their actions could be unusual and even alarming. A psychotic episode is a sudden change in personality and behavior that occurs when those who have it lose the sense of reality.

Causes of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia’s actual cause is unknown. Schizophrenia, like cancer and diabetes, is a real illness with a biological basis. Studies have identified several factors that seem to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia, including:

Schizophrenia can co-occur, which means that a higher risk of developing schizophrenia can be handed down from parents to their children.

People with schizophrenia may be unable to manage brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters, which control some nerve cell routes, or “circuits,” that affect thought and behavior.

Brain abnormality: Schizophrenia patients have an aberrant structure of the brain, according to research. This, may not apply to all those suffering from the disease. Brain dysfunction can also be seen in those who are fine.

Environment: Viral infections, exposure to poisons like marijuana, or extremely stressful events can all precipitate schizophrenia in persons whose genes predispose them to it. Schizophrenia can occur at a young age due to some hormonal and physical changes that generally is common during adolescence and young age. Therefore a healthy understanding environment and a balanced diet for schizophrenia with different nutrients should be suggested.

effects
Fig2: Effects of schizophrenia

Who is Affected by Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia can affect anyone. It affects people of various ethnicities and civilizations all around the world. Schizophrenia can strike at any age, but it is more common in teenagers and early twenties. Men and women are equally affected by the illness, albeit men’s symptoms develop earlier. The more severe the sickness is, the earlier the symptoms appear Schizophrenia can affect children beyond the age of five, but it is uncommon before adolescence.

Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Symptoms
Fig3: Symptoms of schizophrenia

Men in their late teens or early twenties are more likely to develop the illness. It primarily affects women in their early twenties and thirties. The prodromal interval is the time between the onset of symptoms and the onset of complete psychosis. It can linger for days, weeks, or even years at a time. Because there is usually no precise trigger, it might be difficult to detect. It’s possible to observe only minor behavioral changes, especially in teenagers. This includes the following:

•  A drop in grades

•   Withdrawal from social situations

•   Concentration issues

•   Flares of temper

•   Sleeping problems

 Positive Schizophrenia Symptoms

The term “positive” in this situation does not imply “good.” It refers to extraneous ideas or behaviors that aren’t grounded in reality. Symptoms that are sometimes referred to as psychotic symptoms include:

• Delusions: A person suffering from delusions may assume, unusual things like that others can hear their thoughts, that they are God or the devil, or that others are implanting thoughts in their heads or scheming against them.

• Hallucination: Sensations that aren’t genuine are referred to as hallucinations. The most prevalent delusion in patients with schizophrenia is hearing voices. The voices may draw conclusions about the person’s actions, taunt them, or offer commands. Seeing objects that aren’t there, tasting weird aromas, having a peculiar taste in your tongue, and feeling impulses on your body even when nothing is contacting your body are some of the less common forms.

•  Catatonia In this state, the person may stop speaking and remain in a specific position for an extended period.

The voices may draw conclusions about the person’s actions, taunt them, or offer commands. Seeing objects that aren’t there, tasting weird aromas, having a peculiar taste in your tongue, and feeling impulses on your body even when nothing is contacting your body are some of the less common forms.

Disorganized Symptoms

These are signs that the person is unable to think clearly or respond appropriately. Here are several examples:

  • Making it difficult for the person to converse or hold a conversation by speaking in illogical sentences or using gibberish words.
  • Rapidly shifting from one idea to the next with no evident or logical links between them
  • Moving steadily
  • Inability to make judgments

Cognitive Symptoms

The individual will face difficulties

  • Understanding data and making judgments based on it (a doctor might call this poor executive functioning)
  • Paying attention or focusing
  • Using what they’ve learned as soon as possible (this is called working memory)
  • Recognizing that they are suffering from any of these issues

Schizophrenia Negative Symptoms

The word “negative” in this context does not imply “bad.” It mentions how persons with schizophrenia lack normal behavior. Negative signs and symptoms include:

  • Excessive writing, but with little meaning
  • Forgetting or misplacing items
  • Pacing or walking in circles are examples of repetitive movements or gestures.
  • Having trouble deciphering ordinary sights, sounds, and sensations
  • Emotional numbness or a narrow range of emotions
  • Isolation from families, colleagues, and community engagements is a common symptom of depression.
  • Loss of motivation due to a lack of energy
  • Lack of interest or joy in life
  • Poor grooming and hygiene practices

Diagnosis of Schizophrenia

handling patients
Fig4: Schizophrenic patients should be handled very carefully

If schizophrenia symptoms are present, the doctor will conduct a thorough medical history and, in some cases, a physical examination. While there are no specific laboratory tests to diagnose schizophrenia, the doctor may perform a variety of procedures, including blood testing and brain imaging scans, to rule out the possibility of another physical condition or intoxication (substance-induced psychosis).

If a person has at least two of these symptoms for at least six months, they are diagnosed with schizophrenia:

  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Disorganized speech
  • Behavior that is disorganized or catatonic

The person must have one month of active symptoms during the six months. (With good therapy, it may be less.) Symptoms should have a detrimental impact on them socially or at work, and they can’t be caused by anything else.

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Treatment

Antipsychotic medicines are the most common medications used to treat schizophrenia. These medications don’t cure a schizophrenic disorder, however, they assist to alleviate the most common distressing symptoms, like delusions, hallucinations, and cognitive difficulties. A balanced diet for schizophrenia could also be helpful which we will discuss later.A number of the medications are listed below:

Medications:

First-generation drugs

  • Chlorpromazine (Thorazine)
  • Fluphenazine (Prolixin)
  • Haloperidol (Haldol)
  • Loxapine HCL (Loxapine)
  • Perphenazine (Trilafon)
  • Thiothixene (Navane)
  • Trifluoperazine (Stelazine)

Second-generation used to treat schizophrenia include:

  • Aripiprazole (Abilify)
  • Aripiprazole Lauroxil (Aristada)
  • Asenapine (Saphris)
  • Brexpiprazole (Rexulti)
  • Cariprazine (Vraylar)
  • Clozapine (Clozaril)

Note: The medication should be taken under the strict guidance of a health care provider. It is not recommended to take medicine without a doctor’s supervision.

Diet for Schizophrenia

Diet for schizophrenia
Fig : Diet for Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia can not be completely cured. But the symptoms can be managed if a strict diet chart with a certain nutrient focus could be followed.A balanced diet for schizophrenia can be prepared which includes foods that boost mental health and avoid foods that degrades the mental health can be prepared. A nutritionist could be helpful in setting diet for schizophrenia.Diet for schizophrenia must include essential fatty acids, Vitamins, Zince rich foods etc. Diet for schizophrenia must avoid some foods like refined sugars, fatty substances junk foods etc. Here we discuss some foods that could help in the management of schizophrenia.

Essential Fats

It has been found through research that omega 3 fatty acid be very helpful if it could be included in diet for schizophrenia. It can slow down the progression of the disease as well as in some cases it can ease or sometimes prevent the symptoms of schizophrenia. Eicosapentaenoic(EPA), docosahexaenoic acid(DHA), gamma-linolenic acid(GLA) supplements could be taken in this disease but it is better to consult with the doctor once before consuming them.

Fish is the richest source of omega 3 fatty acids. So it is better to include fish twice a week in the diet for schizophrenia. Other Omega 3 rich foods are flax seeds, chia seed, salmon, walnut, soybean, fresh tuna pumpkin seed, etc.

Fiber

The study has suggested that very little fiber is consumed by schizophrenic patients. Fiber-rich foods help in digestion and also control bad cholesterol. Fiber-rich foods consumption helps in lowering the chances of different diseases like heart disease, obesity, diabetes, etc that are found to be associated with schizophrenic conditions. Fiber-rich foods include pears, apples, guava, vegetables like fenugreek leaves, guards, etc.Therefore it is very much important to include fibre in the diet for schizophrenia or schizophrenic patients.

Antioxidants

Some researchers have suggested that diet for schizophreniamust include antioxidants. It is because there will be more amount of oxidation in the frontal cortex in schizophrenic condition. Brain tissues are more affected by oxidative stress due to increased consumption of oxygen, high concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acid, and low antioxidant levels. So it is better to include Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin D in the diet of schizophrenic patients. If not properly getting from diet request doctors for a supplement.

Diet rich in Vitamin A includes green leafy vegetables, carrot, broccoli, butter, liver, sweet potato spinach, etc.

Vit C rich diet include citrus fruits like lemon, oranges, bell peppers, tomatoes, etc

Vit D rich diet include salmon, tuna, liver, egg yolk, mushroom, etc

Vit E-rich foods include sunflower seed, almond, peanut, pumpkin, spinach red bell pepper, etc. All these vitamin if included in diet for schizophrenia can manage the symptoms in a effective manner.

Niacin (Vitamin B3)

Some researches have shown that an adequate amount of B3 in diet can help reduce symptoms of schizophrenia and lower levels can cause the opposite. Foods that are rich in Vitamin B3 green vegetables, fish, poultry, eggs, etc.Daily incorporation of Niacin in diet for schizophrenia is very important.

Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid

A study had shown that maximum schizophrenic patients have low vitamin B12. Some researchers have also shown that folic acid Vitamin B12 and homocysteine in combination have altered single carbon metabolism and contributed to the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Consuming diets rich in these nutrients will help in depressing the symptoms. Foods rich in Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid are milk, milk products, meat, fortified foods, green vegetables, sunflower seeds, etc.

Zinc

Low levels of Zinc are found to be associated with schizophrenia patients. Oysters, Crabs, lobsters are rich sources of Zinc. Other sources are mushroom, spinach, garlic, broccoli.Therefore all these foods must be included in diet for schizophrenia.

Maintain a Healthy heart diet pattern

There are some foods also that should be avoided in diet for schizophrenia.Patients with schizophrenia are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Poor dietary nutrients, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle are common and in addition to this antipsychotic medicine may cause obesity, hyperglycemia, and hypertriglyceridemia. Metabolic syndrome is a common problem in Schizophrenic patients. To avoid all this adequate physical activity, increased dietary fiber, and reduction of fatty diet are needed.So a balanced diet for schizophrenia must be prepared.

Blood sugar Maintenance

It has been found that antipsychotic medicine induces glucose levels. It is recommended to take a balanced diet, especially those diets which have a low glycemic index. Avoiding refined sugar found in all-purpose flour, cake, sugar, fruit juice, sweetened beverages could be very helpful in this condition.All these should be avoided in diet for schizophrenia.

Are split personality disorder and schizophrenia the same?

No, multiple personality disorder and schizophrenia are different though both of them are psychotic disorders

Why is blood sugar level high in schizophrenic patients?

Schizophrenic patients have high sugar levels because antipsychotic drugs induce glucose metabolism.

Can obesity be a problem in schizophrenia?

Yes, obesity could create problems in schizophrenia

Can Schizophrenia be treated completely?

No, schizophrenia can be treated. The symptoms can be managed but one cannot recover completely from it.

Which age is most common for starting schizophrenia?

Teenagers are found to be more affected by this disease.

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