Doctor's nutrition bar fights depression

Posted: Sunday, November 02, 2003

ARDMORE, Okla. For his patients with depression, Dr. Neil Nedley recommends a healthy daily dose of Omega-3. But going home armed with recipes including the ingredients for a diet high in Omega-3 didn't inspire many of his patients. Now, they have another choice.

The other choice is a nutritional bar known as "Uplift," developed by Beneficial Foods of Fredericksburg, Texas, with Nedley's help. Uplift contains 3,000 mg of Omega-3, which decreases the risk of depression by raising the body's levels of seratonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. The idea started a year ago during a lecture Nedley was giving.

"I had been talking about the medical studies and clinical information of (depressed) people getting better through Omega-3. Michael Zyg-munt approached me and said, 'Would you mind if I work with you and your staff to develop a bar with what you consider beneficial for depression?'"

Off and on, Zygmunt talked with Nedley's office manager, Paula Reiter, about ingredient specifics and amounts. Meanwhile, the original conversation slipped Nedley's mind.

"Six months later, Paula told me, 'He wants to test some bars on you,' and I didn't even remember that we had talked about it," Nedley said. "We had him come up from Texas to talk about it. He wanted to have less Omega-3 in the bar because he didn't think it would taste good. But I pressed him to include the full 3,000 mg. So far, nine out of 10 people who've tasted the bar like the taste."

The Uplift bar contains key ingredients, such as flax seeds, brown rice syrup, peanuts, crisp brown rice, granola, sesame seeds, cane juice, almonds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, walnuts, soy protein powder, sea salt, folic acid and Vitamins B-12 and E.

"We've given recipes to patients with flax seed and walnuts and some would make it and some wouldn't. With the bar, it's all done for them now. They could still get all those ingredients with this bar," Nedley said.

The fact that Omega-3 increases three different levels of neurotransmitters all of which tend to be low in people with depression makes the bar a better choice than pharmaceuticals, Nedley said.

"Doctors who prescribe mood elevators, that's what the drug companies are trying to do is to raise one of these levels, but currently, there's no drug on the market that can raise all three," he said.

"We recommend those with depression to take a bar a day, or the equivalent of 3,000 mg of Omega-3," Nedley said. "Those with severe depression or bipolar disorder need 9 grams, or three bars a day. This bar is beneficial for those with major depression. Once we put them on this and start tapering them off, they'll be more likely to get off their medicines."

Tonya Dorries of Ardmore, Okla., has been eating the Uplift bars ever since they were made available and has seen a difference in her health.

"Actually, I've had a lot more energy since I've been taking them," she said. "I snack on one throughout the day."

Dorries, who takes an anti-depressant and medication for colon problems, said the appeal of the Omega-3 bar is getting off the drugs.

"I was trying to get off Paxil. I'm just one more step from coming off. I think that's helped a lot, too," she said. "I just know that I'm fine now. I've also had a lot of colon problems and I don't want to take medication for anything. I'm trying to eat my way out of medication."

Nedley said Omega-3 helps those with anxiety disorders, depression and bipolar/manic-depressive conditions. It is a natural anti-inflammatory, which reduces the risk of heart attack and helps with conditions such as ulcerative colitis and others.

"Omega-3 and Omega-6 are essential for good health," Nedley said. "You can get Omega-3 in cold-water ocean fish, but governmental studies have shown that fish contains mercury. One of the reasons for depression is toxins and the highest level of mercury is found in fish. If you can get Omega-3 in a source that doesn't have toxins or mercury, you're better off.

"Primarily, the health-food lines are selling it right now, but in our minds, it needs to be at 7-11s, it needs to be in vending machines at offices," Nedley said. "It needs to be in places where it can reach the general public, because it's more than a health food bar. It tastes good and it's good for you."

Beneficial Foods from Frederick-sburg, Texas, is currently working on agreements with Albertson's and 7-11 to make the bar more widely available. The bar costs an average of $1.49 each or $24 for a box of 18.

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