Bottom line: Alcohol and bipolar disorder make a bad combination. Alcohol can negatively affect bipolar mood swings and may also interact negatively with medications such as lithium, according to the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (NIHCC). People with bipolar disorder are also more likely to die prematurely if they use alcohol or other substances, according to an analysis of data that included more than 11,000 people with bipolar disorder published in the September 2015 issue of The Lancet Psychiatry.
Eating a diet high in sugar can make it harder to control weight, and obesity — including related belly fat — may make some bipolar disorder drug treatments less effective, according to results of a multicenter study published in the June 2015 issue of Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. If you need to satisfy a sweet tooth, reach for fruit.
If you’re on lithium, moderating salt intake can be tricky, because a change in salt intake — either a sudden increase or a decrease — can affect lithium levels, according to the NIHCC. Talk with your doctor about how to safely manage the salt in your diet to stay within a healthy range. The American Heart Association recommends consuming less than 1,500 milligrams a day. Equally important when taking lithium is to make sure you drink enough fluids: Dehydration can cause dangerous side effects, Fiedorowicz cautions.