Diet and Nutrition

A Dietary Guide for People Living With Parkinson's Disease

A Dietary Guide for People Living With Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson’s is a chronic disease that affects more than ten million people worldwide, and the statistics by the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (PDF) show that it is more prevalent in men than in women. Over the years, there have been several theories postulated as to how and why the disease develops, but none offer a definitive answer. Thus, research is still ongoing in order for doctors and other medical professionals to determine the true cause of the disorder. 

Healthy methods and strategies can be adopted to reduce the risk of complications. One such example is introducing a healthier diet. Having a healthy diet is beneficial to the patient in the long run. The risk and progression of the disease can be reduced by certain organic, protein-rich foods. In order for medicines to work effectively, proper nutrients need to be consumed. People with Parkinson’s disease will experience weight loss, problems swallowing, and nausea, among other symptoms, but a healthy diet can help combat these.

A study was done to look at the role of diet and nutritional supplements in the progression of Parkinson’s disease. Data was gathered from participants, and their dietary intake was determined through a food frequency questionnaire. The results were then drawn from the patient reported outcomes. The relationship between diet, lifestyle, and severity of the disease was measured using this information. Researchers found that the progression of the disease was reduced by the intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, olive and coconut oil, herbs and spices, non-fried fish, and wine. The progression was also reduced due to the intake of nutritional supplements like coenzyme Q10 and fish oil. Conversely, a rapid progression was linked to the consumption of canned and/or preserved fruits and vegetables, fried foods, soda, beef, and dairy products. Those who took iron supplements also saw a faster progression of Parkinson’s. These results could help to create a diet plan for people with this disease.

People with Parkinson’s disease are encouraged to consume food products like fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, non-fried fish, olive oil, coconut oil, wine, and fresh herbs and spices. Along with these additions, patients should avoid items such as canned foods, fried foods, beef, diet and regular sodas, ice cream, yogurt, beef, and cheese.

The food consumed and the timing of it should be adjusted with respect to the medicine being taken in order to avoid unwanted side effects. For instance, levodopa may compete with other proteins for absorption, so, when taking this medication on a particular day, foods rich in protein should be avoided and instead, the patient should eat rice, vegetables, and foods high in carbohydrates; otherwise, the action of the drug may slow down. Iron supplements should be consumed two hours before or after taking levodopa since the drug’s action may slow down or reduce in strength. For medicines such as pramipexole and ropinirole, a change in diet is not required. Also, in order for the drug to be absorbed faster, the individual must wait 30 minutes to an hour after eating food before taking it. Snacks containing carbohydrates can be eaten if the person feels nauseous.

Drink adequate amounts of water. Caffeine and alcohol should be avoided by people with low blood pressure. If one experiences muscle cramps, pickle juice, turmeric spice, or tonic water may help. Extra cream, oil, or honey can be added to food to make it tasty since people with Parkinson’s disease often suffer from weight loss. There is no special diet plan for those afflicted with the disorder, however, if a healthy lifestyle is maintained, it can prove beneficial given enough time.