Parkinson’s Disease – Diet and Nutrition

A healthy diet can be most helpful for people suffering from early onset Parkinson’s disease (PD).  It can help PD fighters to maintain normal body weight, reduce constipation and boost their immune system hence decreasing risk factors for certain illnesses. Various studies have indicated that getting adequate nourishment prevents difficulties with swallowing, worsening of motor symptoms and increased weakness that often results in falls.

Whenever a PD fighter is prescribed a new medication, he should ask his physician about any dietary precautions. Certain food groups or the timing of meals can interfere with how effectively or quickly your body is able to absorb the medication.

Recommended Foods

Fundamentally, Parkinson’s is a dopamine deficiency in the brain. With this knowledge, researchers have tried testing what’s called a Protein Redistribution Diet. This diet includes high fiber and generous amounts of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes while limiting salt and saturated fat intake.

Fruits and Vegetables

Phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables may slow the PD progression. As most fruits and vegetables are also rich sources (vitamins A, B, C, and E) of antioxidants, they promote low severity levels in some PD patients. Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli belong to the group of vegetables that are rich in antioxidants with neuroprotective capacity. Tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers are also associated with a reduced risk of PD in individuals who do not smoke. Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables (bananas, apples, pears, guava, beans, peas, and lentils) can help improve digestive function hence prevent constipation in PD patients.

Omega-3

Omega-3 rich food reduces depression in PD patients. Since Fatty fish and walnuts provide significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, they promote cardiovascular health and henceforth improve the PD patient’s emotional health.

Whole Grains

Whole grains provide PD fighters with valuable amounts of fiber, B-vitamins, Zinc and Selenium, which promotes digestive health. Whole grain sources like whole grain bread, cold cereals, oatmeal, long-grain brown rice, wild rice, air-popped popcorn and barley soup enhance blood sugar levels and sustained energy.

Tea and Coffee

A retrospective study state that more than three cups of tea per day result in delayed onset of motor symptoms in PD patients. Similarly, a recent study found out that caffeine consumption through about two cups of coffee a day significantly improves symptoms of the disease.

What to Avoid

  • Eating more than the modest amount of protein in form of meat, fish and dairy products interferes with the mostly prescribed class of PD medication – Levodopa. Limiting protein-rich foods, particularly in the morning may help prevent medication-related problems.
  • Fava beans, a nutritious legume, benefits PD patient and causes problems for others. Because fava beans contain a natural form of levodopa, eating them in large quantities may lead to an overdose.
  • Sugar, having more calories and few nutrients, leads to weight gain when indulged in excess. Hence, reducing sugar intake helps in maintaining a healthy body weight for PD patients. Replacing sugar with fresh fruits, whole grain muffins, yogurt and honey is recommended.
  • It is suggested for PD fighters to limit their salt intake and add more spices such as cinnamon, cumin, ginger and black pepper. Adding Aromatic vegetables like onions, peppers and garlic to the diet promotes reduced-sodium intake.