If you have a loved one who suffers from the debilitating mental condition of schizophrenia, the quality of life is often very low.1, 2 With a growing rate of schizophrenia worldwide, any measures that may help improve this, should be considered.3, 4
Even more sadly, sometimes improvements in symptoms do not necessarily equate to a better quality of life.5 Cognitive impairment, however, can be correlated with perceived quality of life, where improved cognition could potentially lead to a better life in schizophrenics.6, 7, 8
Scientifically, it seems mental disorders, like schizophrenia, may be an issue of glutamatergic transmission.9, 10 Researchers note the deletion at the SLC1A1 glutamate transporter gene,11 which has also been shown in sufferers of obsessive-compulsive disorder.12 Glutamatergic theories of schizophrenia are based on the ability of N-methyl-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) antagonists to induce schizophrenia-like symptoms.13
We have discussed gluten’s negative cognitive effects previously in Gluten and the Brain, 17, 18 but besides gluten, deficiencies in vitamin C, niacin and folate may worsen symptoms of schizophrenia.19 As researchers noted in 2003, a growing body of evidence implicates GABA (an important inhibitory neurotransmitter) in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia.20, 21 Schizophrenics, especially when eating an unhealthy diet, may have altered GABA synthesis.22 Researchers found that a low carbohydrate, ketogenic diet, may be useful in treating schizophrenic patients.23 This is thought to partially be from the increased synthesis of GABA in the brain.24
If you, or a loved one, are diagnosed with a debilitating mental disorder like schizophrenia, it’s important to try any and all methods, in hopes that quality of life can be improved. A Paleo Diet that is low in carbohydrate, and removes problematic proteins like gluten, would be a good start. Couple this with a regimen that is high in vitamins and minerals, and great results are likely be seen. The formula is simple: If improving the quality of food, can help improve the quality of life, what have you got to lose?
1. Cardoso CS, Caiaffa WT, Bandeira M, Siqueira AL, Abreu MN, Fonseca JO. Factors associated with low quality of life in schizophrenia. Cad Saude Publica. 2005;21(5):1338-40.
2. Solanki RK, Singh P, Midha A, Chugh K. Schizophrenia: Impact on quality of life. Indian J Psychiatry. 2008;50(3):181-6.
3. Bray I, Waraich P, Jones W, Slater S, Goldner EM, Somers J. Increase in schizophrenia incidence rates: findings in a Canadian cohort born 1975-1985. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2006;41(8):611-8.
4. Burns JK, Tomita A, Kapadia AS. Income inequality and schizophrenia: increased schizophrenia incidence in countries with high levels of income inequality. Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2014;60(2):185-96.
5. Wilson-d’almeida K, Karrow A, Bralet MC, Bazin N, Hardy-baylé MC, Falissard B. In patients with schizophrenia, symptoms improvement can be uncorrelated with quality of life improvement. Eur Psychiatry. 2013;28(3):185-9.
6. Alptekin K, Akvardar Y, Kivircik akdede BB, et al. Is quality of life associated with cognitive impairment in schizophrenia?. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2005;29(2):239-44.
7. Savilla K, Kettler L, Galletly C. Relationships between cognitive deficits, symptoms and quality of life in schizophrenia. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2008;42(6):496-504.
8. Harvey PD, Green MF, Keefe RS, Velligan DI. Cognitive functioning in schizophrenia: a consensus statement on its role in the definition and evaluation of effective treatments for the illness. J Clin Psychiatry. 2004;65(3):361-72.
9. Tamminga CA. Schizophrenia and glutamatergic transmission. Crit Rev Neurobiol. 1998;12(1-2):21-36.
10. Kantrowitz J, Javitt DC. Glutamatergic transmission in schizophrenia: from basic research to clinical practice. Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2012;25(2):96-102.
11. Myles-worsley M, Tiobech J, Browning SR, et al. Deletion at the SLC1A1 glutamate transporter gene co-segregates with schizophrenia and bipolar schizoaffective disorder in a 5-generation family. Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2013;162B(2):87-95.
12. Arnold PD, Sicard T, Burroughs E, Richter MA, Kennedy JL. Glutamate transporter gene SLC1A1 associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2006;63(7):769-76.
13. Moghaddam B, Javitt D. From revolution to evolution: the glutamate hypothesis of schizophrenia and its implication for treatment. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2012;37(1):4-15.
14. Kraft BD, Westman EC. Schizophrenia, gluten, and low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diets: a case report and review of the literature. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2009;6:10.
15. Wood NC, Hamilton I, Axon AT, et al. Abnormal intestinal permability. An aetiological factor in chronic psychiatric disorders?. Br J Psychiatry. 1987;150:853-6.
16. Dohan FC. Genetic hypothesis of idiopathic schizophrenia: its exorphin connection. Schizophr Bull. 1988;14(4):489-94.
17. Available at: //thepaleodiet.com/gluten-brain/. Accessed August 15, 2014.
18. Kalaydjian AE, Eaton W, Cascella N, Fasano A. The gluten connection: the association between schizophrenia and celiac disease. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2006;113(2):82-90.
19. Hoffer LJ. Vitamin therapy in schizophrenia. Isr J Psychiatry Relat Sci. 2008;45(1):3-10.
20. Wassef A, Baker J, Kochan LD. GABA and schizophrenia: a review of basic science and clinical studies. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2003;23(6):601-40.
21. Ben-ari Y, Gaiarsa JL, Tyzio R, Khazipov R. GABA: a pioneer transmitter that excites immature neurons and generates primitive oscillations. Physiol Rev. 2007;87(4):1215-84.
22. Vierling-claassen D, Siekmeier P, Stufflebeam S, Kopell N. Modeling GABA alterations in schizophrenia: a link between impaired inhibition and altered gamma and beta range auditory entrainment. J Neurophysiol. 2008;99(5):2656-71.
23. Pacheco A, Easterling WS, Pryer MW. A PILOT STUDY OF THE KETOGENIC DIET IN SCHIZOPHRENIA. Am J Psychiatry. 1965;121:1110-1.
24 Bough KJ, Rho JM. Anticonvulsant mechanisms of the ketogenic diet. Epilepsia. 2007;48(1):43-58.
25. Gómez-pinilla F. Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008;9(7):568-78.
26. Horrocks LA, Yeo YK. Health benefits of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Pharmacol Res. 1999;40(3):211-25.
27. Letenneur L, Proust-lima C, Le gouge A, Dartigues JF, Barberger-gateau P. Flavonoid intake and cognitive decline over a 10-year period. Am J Epidemiol. 2007;165(12):1364-71.
28. Mccann JC, Hudes M, Ames BN. An overview of evidence for a causal relationship between dietary availability of choline during development and cognitive function in offspring. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2006;30(5):696-712.
29. Karson CN, Casanova MF, Kleinman JE, Griffin WS. Choline acetyltransferase in schizophrenia. Am J Psychiatry. 1993;150(3):454-9.