Highlights from Jonathan Otto's interview with Dr. Neil Nedley, for the Depression & Anxiety Series. Dr. Nedley discusses the value of a plant based diet with depression and anxiety.
Dr. Neil Nedley - Interview 3
Dr. Nedley: Sure. Well, you know, there have been lots of studies regarding diet and dietary intervention with depression and anxiety and there’s only one diet that has been shown to improve depression and anxiety significantly and it starts to do it in as little as two weeks and it’s a plant-based diet, and so, a plant-based is needed for several reasons.
The depression and anxiety is due to inflammation in the brain and if we get arachidonic acid out of the diet, then the inflammation in the brain goes down. Arachidonic acid is a pro-inflammatory mediator. If you’re taking Aleve or anti-inflammatories like that, Ibuprofen, you’re actually trying to block the arachidonic acid pathway from metabolizing. We don’t need to block the metabolic pathway if you don’t have arachidonic acid in your diet and you don’t need arachidonic acid in your diet. Arachidonic acid is present in meat fish and eggs, so that’s why we go free of those things, and then we also want to go free of what we call oxidized cholesterol. The more cholesterol, the higher the rates of depression and the more treatment-resistant it becomes.
Those are a couple of reasons we use a plant-based diet. A third reason is if you’re on antioxidants, your depression clears up much better, so we want a high antioxidant plant-based diet and then we want a diet higher in omega-3 type of fats, which can help our brain and a number of ways. It almost acts as a mood stabilizer, prevents the euphoric mania and it also prevents the depression and it’s also, in addition, a potent anti-inflammatory molecule.
That’s the specifics of the diet. Now, there’s some might need more folate, depending on our lab work. We do $2,700.00 worth of lab work. We’re looking at genetics and all of those things, and so there might be some specific things that we’ll use on top of that to create a normal brain chemistry.
Jonathan: Okay, that’s very insightful and helpful. So, you’re saying that the plant-based diet works really well when it comes to not putting inflammatory things into the body, which can be an issue when it comes to, I mean, what types of diseases as well, inflammatory diseases. Do you see any correlation between arachidonic acid and cancer or autoimmune disease?
Dr. Nedley: Particularly with autoimmune disease, and it can be with certain forms of cancer, but with autoimmune disease, the same problem is inflammation. We’re generating a lot of inflammation from an immune system that is attacking in the wrong way and so, the omega-3 can help with that and also the plant-based diet, no arachidonic acid also helps with autoimmune disease.
Jonathan: So then, you’re doing that, but you’re also ... I think you’re implementing something that I think the ketogenic diet has, in a sense, popularized today, which I think is a good thing, this particular part of it, which is intermittent fasting. I would say that your version is, perhaps-
Dr. Nedley: it’s the healthy version. It’s the healthy ketogenic diet. We like to generate ketones too because it helps to turn on neuroplasticity, but we generate that through fasting and so, the first day they might come and fast for 24 hours and then those ketones are really turning on the positive neuroplasticity and then after that, if they’re the right type of body type and right metabolism, which we’re measuring, we will have them on a two-meal a day program where they’re eating breakfast and lunch, but no supper, and they’ll generate a lot of ketones at supper and in the middle of the night, which actually helps their brain in a lot of ways and even helps with self-control, but we don’t have to be restrictive.
There’s people that put doctors that puts some patients on ketogenic diets where it has to be high meat. It’s basically a no-carb diet or a low-carb diet, and that’s an unsustainable diet to be on long-term and so these people end up yo-yoing, but my diet is very sustainable. It’s sustainable over the course of a lifetime, actually, and it really helps with brain chemistry.
Jonathan: I’ve been really enjoying what I’ve been eating here. Yeah, and I’m not as strict a vegan as I could be, so I really enjoy it when food is prepared well. I mean the most delicious foods are those in nature in my opinion and I think that our taste buds grow to understand that when we let our frontal lobes make the decisions about what we should be eating.
Okay, so perfect. That was really great with the ketones. Does that help when it comes to burning fat as a primary fuel source? What about this? Because people talk about sugar burning as a primary fuel, glucose, when we’re eating, even complex carbohydrates like fruit and vegetable. They’re still thinking that is making sugar as the primary fuel whereas they’re saying, we need to switch to fat being the primary fuel. What do you think about this?
Dr. Nedley: Well, that’s how we generate ketones is by metabolizing fat, so it is the breakdown of fat that is actually helping to produce the ketones, and that’s a good thing.
Jonathan: Okay, good, and so, our bodies will start to burn fat as a primary fuel when we’re eating plant-based diets and we’re getting enough time for that intermittent fasting. For example, we’re not eating late supper.
Dr. Nedley: Correct. Exactly.
Jonathan: At worst, just maybe not after 5: 00 or 6: 00 at very worst?
Dr. Nedley: Yeah, although it would be, for those who are underweight or normal weight, we would recommend 5: 00 or 6: 00, but for those that are overweight, they actually don’t need it at all.
Dr. Nedley: Physical exercise is crucially important for brain chemistry and so, yes, we recommend. The best is the aerobic exercise and so, we recommend good aerobic exercise every day, at least 6 days a week, and ideally an hour a day or more. If they come to this program, they’re gonna do more to start out with so that we can get that desired effect quicker within that 10 days.
Jonathan: And aerobic, what do you mean?
Dr. Nedley: That would be like running, walking, swimming, bicycling. Those would be your aerobic exercises.
Jonathan: Okay. And so, can guys do weight training and that type of thing? Is that good?
Dr. Nedley: They can. Yeah. That’s not aerobic, per se.
Jonathan: Is that anaerobic?
Dr. Nedley: Yeah, that’s anaerobic exercise.
Jonathan: It’s okay, but more of something where I’ve seen-
Dr. Nedley: More what we call-
Jonathan: PK training, like where you are doing like fast sprints for a minute and then walking.
Dr. Nedley: Yep. Intermittent training is good. That’s aerobic actually, so aerobic exercise of any of its forms are something that we teach the people here in the program and lead out in called circuit training. That’s aerobic as well. It’s kind of a combination sometimes of muscle building and aerobic activity.
Jonathan: And so, if somebody is depressed, they’ve gotta do their best to put as much in as possible.
Dr. Nedley: Exactly.
Jonathan: At least an hour a day. Is that right?.
Dr. Nedley: That’s right. An hour a day.
Jonathan: You wouldn’t put anyone at under an hour. Is that right?
Dr. Nedley: I mean, there may be an extreme case that they’re wheelchair-bound or they don’t have the ability, but yeah, if they’re able-bodied, an hour a day is where we’re gonna recommend. Water is important. Our neuro chemicals communicate through a hydration medium, so if we’re dehydrated, it’s gonna be less efficient in the brain.
Jonathan: How does someone measure how much is right for them?
Dr. Nedley: Actually, the way we do it is by measuring their urine to see what their specific gravity is, but for most people, it’s gonna be a minimum of eight glasses a day, particularly if they’re exercising and probably 80 ounces a day if they’re on a typical exercise program.
Jonathan: If somebody had double that, what would that do to them?
Dr. Nedley: It would still be okay. You can have up to four times that amount actually, but once you go to four times the amount that you need, that’s when you’re going to start washing out body salts and going the other way.
Jonathan: And then, what’s the correlation between hydration, water, and looking and feeling young and youthful complexion, wrinkles, that type of thing?
Dr. Nedley: Yeah, that’s why people do look like they’re aging is due to the fact that the skin is dehydrating out, which of course occurs with age no matter how much you hydrate yourself, but you can certainly slow it by keeping well-hydrated.
Jonathan: So then, somebody can be feeling depressed because they’re not having enough water then they can feel depressed because they don’t look what they should look.
Dr. Nedley: That’s right.
Jonathan: Okay, yeah, see, that’s a good reason.
Dr. Nedley: We’ve got people coming to our program saying I’m sick and tired of looking like I’m sick and tired and so yeah, if you’re on a good, healthy program, at least you won’t look as sick and tired.
Jonathan: And water can actually help people with depression and anxiety?
Dr. Nedley: Yes absolutely. It helps with headaches, too.
Jonathan: Got it. And then often people are thinking that they’re hungry, but they’re actually thirsty? Is that true?
Dr. Nedley: That can be, yes.
Jonathan: You know, when people are dehydrated, they’re trying, I think a lot of people are trying to work out, they’re like, “Well, I’m really hungry,” and they’re eating all through the day, but they simply don’t drink enough water. Food does hydrate you.
Dr. Nedley: It does. Yeah. It is hydrating.
Jonathan: You see, and then that’s why I’m really always encouraging people and I often, I’m with their friends, “I’m hungry.” I’m like, “No, you’re just thirsty.” They’re like, “No I’m actually hungry.” I’m like, okay fine, I was just joking. Alright, so, coming to the next one, you start S, sunlight, right?
Dr. Nedley: Sunlight, yep. Through the eyes and through the skin. Vitamin D and getting enough serotonin. So, that’s a crucial remedy.
Jonathan: How much is too much?
Dr. Nedley: Too much sun is when you’re burning.
Jonathan: Right? So you’re generally not too concerned? Why do people say that we should be worried about skin cancer?
Dr. Nedley: That’s if you’re burning because it can cause melanoma down the road.
Jonathan: Got it. Being two hours in the sun with your shirt off, you know, working in the field. That’s not essentially bad, is it?
Dr. Nedley: No. Not if you’re not burning.
Jonathan: Can people do anything to stop the burning? Like Australian sun. I get burned sometimes in the Australian sun, but I don’t here in America. Is there anything somebody can do to kinda diminish that issue with burning? Any type of oil or something they can kind of apply? I’ve heard of things, but I don’t really know.
Dr. Nedley: There’s all sorts of preparations of sunblock, preparations and getting the right clothing if it’s not face. Yep. Fresh air is vitally important, the A. R is rest and that’s very important and when they all start getting adequate sleep after seven days here in the program and then the T is the trust and that trust has to do with the spiritual part of the program. So, if we do put all eight of those together in the right way per individual patient, it’s amazing what can happen.
I would like to encourage you to recognize that depression and anxiety is not something you have to put up with. It can be eradicated. Don’t just try to control it, get it eradicated. Find out precisely the causes and how those causes can be reversed through natural means and you can live a very happy life that’s depression-free, anxiety-free and that is full of healthy relationships and emotional intelligence.