Mood and metabolic disorders often go hand in hand. Individuals with unipolar and bipolar depression are more likely to struggle with cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other obesity-related illnesses, all of which affect quality of life. Disturbances in metabolism may underlie these disorders and provide a common link.
In a new study by the Prechter Bipolar Research Group, scientists evaluated the relationship between metabolism and mental health. Specifically, they looked at polyunsaturated fatty acid metabolism, including the well-known omega-3 and omega-6 fats. The study revealed that blood levels of a major omega-6 fat, called linoleic acid, associated with improved depression and life functioning scores on self-reported questionnaires. Linoleic acid is a major component of the western diet, accounting for approximately 8% of the calories we eat. It primarily comes from soybean oil and other common plant oils. What is not yet clear is if changing our diets to control linoleic acid blood levels can help improve mood, but these studies are planned.
The lead investigator on this study, Dr. Simon Evans, hopes to identify dietary patterns that will help people with bipolar disorder better control their mood and improve their quality of life. The study was published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.