What You Need to Know
You may have heard that kombucha, a fermented tea drink, can be helpful for a wide variety of physical health concerns. But what about mental health disorders like schizophrenia? Here’s what you need to know.
What is the gut microbiome?
The trillions of bacteria in your gut make up your gut microbiome. Many factors can affect it, including:
- How you gave birth when you were born (caesarean section or vaginal birth)
- What you’ve been fed baby
- Your genes
- The medications you are taking
- What you eat
No one has the exact same mix of microbial cells – not even identical twins.
Studies have shown that these bacteria play a role in the communication between your brain and your gut. The microbiomes of people with mental disorders like schizophrenia are very different from those of people who don’t.
Researchers believe that stimulating the good bacteria could help ease anxiety and improve mood, whether you have a mental health problem or not. It could have to do with the signals going to your brain. But more research is needed before scientists can say for sure.
This idea is the root of some theories about whether kombucha – which contains probiotics, a mixture of good bacteria, or yeast – could help fight schizophrenia.
Probiotics and schizophrenia
Probiotics support a healthy balance in your body. The good bacteria fight inflammation and help strengthen your immune system. You can find them in foods like:
Claims that kombucha helps people with schizophrenia are linked to fermented foods that promote good gut health. But in the end, there is no evidence that kombucha is good or bad for people with mental disorders. Researchers are trying to find out more about it.
If you have schizophrenia and want to try kombucha, this is most likely fine. There is no evidence that it will interact with your medications. But it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before adding anything to your daily routine. Some experts advise against drinking more than 12 ounces of kombucha per day.
Some symptoms of schizophrenia called psychosis can affect your senses of taste and smell. This can make it harder for you to eat a variety of healthy foods, says Theresa Nguyen, program director at Mental Health America and a registered clinical social worker. So if you like the taste of kombucha then go for it.
“A lot of times when we work with clients, we’re like, ‘What do you like? And what about those healthy options or probiotics that taste good and are pleasing to you? Let’s start there, ”she says.
What to eat when you have schizophrenia
If you have schizophrenia, it is important to eat balanced and healthy meals, including lots of vegetables. If you haven’t already, try making a habit of eating three times a day.
It’s a good rule of thumb to base your meals on starchy foods, especially those that are high in fiber. For example, brown bread, rice, and pasta are all high in fiber.
People with schizophrenia should also reduce their intake of sugar, salt, and saturated fat. It can be easier when you cook your own meals instead of choosing ready meals and take out.
It is important to avoid drinks that contain caffeine, such as coffee, tea, and energy drinks. Also, try to limit alcohol and drink it only on special occasions.
You should also make sure you are drinking enough water to stay hydrated. Five cups a day is a good goal, but you’ll probably need more if it’s hot outside or if you exercise a lot.
Nguyen says that one of the most important things for people with schizophrenia is to focus on a variety of healthy foods.
“People with schizophrenia and any mental illness should focus on consuming a variety of healthy foods, but cut back on unhealthy foods, especially sugar,” she says. “If they want to explore a gut biome approach, they can add foods that increase probiotics, like yogurt or any other fermented food.”
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