I Wanted Better Than This
Although I was getting worse very slowly I was still noticing it.
That shaking of the hands was very real.
Slowness in my movements had gradually become more noticeable.
And I was developing other classic symptoms.
Low moods and anxiety.
My sense of smell started to weaken.
Failure to recall how Id spent yesterday complete loss of recall about my own wedding recognizing faces but not remembering names
We joke about these things and put them down to age.
But when theres a diagnosed condition that is actively robbing you of physical and mental abilities thats no joke at all.
I knew this condition led to physical disability.
I also knew it led to mental disability.
I was scared, to be honest.
Scared to be a burden. Scared to lose my ability to control my own body.
Scared to watch my life deteriorating before my eyes.
Constipation And Hydration In Parkinsons Disease
As Parkinsons disease can cause constipation, the Parkinsons Foundation recommends a diet featuring 20 to 25 grams of daily fiber to maintain bowel health.
Its really important for overall health to keep bowels moving, Subramanian says. We recommend a diet with a lot of vegetables and as much fiber as you can take. Foods that are high in prebiotics, including fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchee, can also help.
Some Parkinsons disease medications dont work as well when taken with fermented foods, however, so check with your doctor before incorporating them into your diet.
Proper hydration is also important for everyone, including people who have Parkinsons disease. Try to drink six to eight glasses of water a day and take your medications with a full glass of water, the Parkinsons Foundation notes. It may help your body break down the medication more efficiently.
Hydration helps with blood pressure and constipation, Subramanian notes. We recommend our Parkinsons patients drink 40 ounces of water a day. Thats just water, not coffee or tea or other drinks. This can also help improve digestion.
If drinking water leads to urinary urgency, try eating foods with a high water content like celery, butternut squash, grapefruit, strawberries, and watermelon instead.
What Foods To Avoid
Here are some eating guidelines on what to avoid with Parkinsons disease.
- Don’t eat too many sugary foods and drinks as these can negatively impact your immune system. Opt for naturally sweetened food and reduce your sugar intake to manage Parkinsons symptoms.
- Don’t eat too much protein. Consuming lots of beef, fish, or cheese may affect the effectiveness of certain Parkinsons medications. Plan on having more vegetables and carbohydrates during the day and stick to an appropriate serving of protein at dinnertime.
- Don’t consume too much sodium, trans fat, cholesterol, and saturated fats.
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Maintain A Healthy And Balanced Meal Plan
Eating well and avoiding specific foods can prevent the progression of Parkinsons disease. Still, you must adopt an overall healthy lifestyle to improve further your chances of avoiding the diseases debilitating effects. Consider the following diet and nutrition guidelines for maintaining a healthy diet:
- Eat Balanced, Timely Meals: Dont obsess about restricting your diet liberalize it! Include foods from all vital food groups, including fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and a limited amount of dairy. In addition, dont skip meals or go longer than 4 hours between meals to avoid weight loss and optimize nutrition consumption and utilization.
- Avoid Popular Diets: Stay away from fad diets. Unless a certified health professional crafts a menu based on a popular diet for you, consider avoiding it. Discuss any new or trending diet with your doctor before trying one.
- Limit Sweet and Salty Foods: Reduce your sugar and sodium intake. Sweet food, especially baked goods and desserts, tend to have many calories without vital nutrients in return. Excess sugar intake may also lead to weight gain, increased blood sugar, and tooth decay.
When Should I Take My Parkinsons Medication
When you take your Parkinsons medication should always be discussed with your GP, specialist or Parkinsons nurse.
Some people with Parkinsons may feel sick after taking medication, especially if they take it on an empty stomach.
Having a snack, such as a plain cracker or biscuit, at the same time as taking your medication can help ease this side effect. Or you may find taking medication with plenty of water can help to reduce nausea.
Your GP can also prescribe anti-sickness tablets if you do feel sick after taking your medication.
Talk to your GP, specialist or Parkinsons nurse if you have difficulty swallowing your medication. It may help to take your medication with a cold drink, such as water, squash or fruit juice, or with yoghurt.
You may also benefit from a referral to a speech and language therapist.
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Tips For Getting Started
Changing your diet can be difficult. Try making one change at a time, like eating a handful of nuts a few times a week or avoiding white bread. Small changes can add up to big benefits.
- Consult with a registered dietician, who can help you plan menus and make shopping lists for preparing nutritious meals that you like and that account for your individual needs and the timing of your medications.
- An occupational therapist can help you explore assistive devicesto make eating and drinking easier.
- If you experience anxiety or depression, talk to your doctor. These symptoms can suppress appetite.
- If swallowing issues are causing problems eating, a speech-language pathologist may be able to help.
I believe that exercise and weight training remain the most essential self-help one can practice, in addition to diet.
Foods That Help With Parkinsons Disease: Wellness Tips
Although Parkinsons disease is incurable, certain medications can be prescribed to manage it. However, these medications sometimes have harsh side effects, and its why many people living with Parkinsons turn to a healthier diet and exercise regimen as an alternative remedy to alleviate their symptoms.
Try incorporating these types of foods that help Parkinsons disease symptoms subside:
- High in antioxidants. Nuts, fruits and vegetables specifically walnuts, blueberries, tomatoes, eggplant, spinach, and kale protect against oxidative stress, which is an imbalance that often occurs in Parkinsons disease.
- Omega-3 fatty acids. Healthy fats like salmon, soybeans, kidney beans, and flaxseed can help improve brain function for those living with Parkinsons.
- Fava beans. This food gets its own mention because it contains levodopa, the same chemical compound used in Parkinsons medications. Its important to note that fava beans shouldnt be consumed to replace a prescribed treatment.
- Nutrient-rich foods. Individuals with Parkinsons are more likely to experience malnutrition as a side effect of the disease, so its important to consume foods high in iron, vitamin B, vitamin D, zinc, and calcium. These include red meat, whole grains, chicken, tuna, fortified dairy products, and green leafy vegetables.
- Caffeinated beverages. Green tea and coffee have been shown to improve symptoms of Parkinsons as well as overall cognition.
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Foods That Increase Your Chances Of Getting Parkinsons Disease
If youve begun to notice mild symptoms of Parkinsons, youll want to avoid certain types of foods. Consuming foods that are high in saturated fat have been directly linked to developing chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes, and they can contribute to Parkinsons as well.
Foods you should skip or consume less of to help prevent Parkinsons disease are:
- Lards and butter
- Foods high in sugar
- Processed foods and beverages like sodas, canned foods, and microwave-ready meals
As a bonus tip, those who have already been diagnosed with Parkinsons should avoid foods that are more difficult to chew and swallow.
Now that you know what foods are potential risk factors for developing Parkinsons, well share the foods you should be eating more of and other beneficial lifestyle choices.
What Can I Do To Help With Swallowing
Make sure you are comfortable at meal times. The following suggestions may help make it easier to eat:
- Take your time and eat in a comfortable, quiet place.
- If you feel you are taking too long and food is getting cold, consider eating smaller, more frequent meals and snacks, or food that is easier to eat.
- You can buy heated plates to keep food warm for longer or consider serving smaller portions so that a second portion can be kept warm or reheated if its safe to do so.
- Posture is important to trigger a good swallow. Try eating sitting upright in your chair.
- Try planning your meals for when your medication is working. Avoid trying to eat large meals when you are off.
- If you wear dentures try to ensure they fit comfortably. Ask for a review by your dentist if you are concerned.
- Try to eat when you are less tired, this may mean moving your main meal to lunchtime rather than in the evening.
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Foods For Aging Adults With Parkinsons To Avoid
Diet and nutrition play a big role in boosting general health in seniors with Parkinsons. Although there isnt a single Parkinsons diet plan recommended by doctors, its generally understood that certain foods are better than others. You already know your senior loved one should be eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition, you should watch out for these six foods that may need to be avoided as much as possible.
Eat Wisely And Choose Whole Foods
A diet based on whole, nutrient-dense foods is an excellent first step for reducing your risk of Parkinsons disease. A high intake of fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, fish, olive oil, coconut oil, fresh herbs, and spices is associated with a reduced risk of PD development and slower disease progression. Eating plenty of vegetables and fiber boosts levels of an anti-inflammatory group of gut bacteria that are inversely associated with Parkinsons disease and may play a protective role against neurodegenerative processes in the brain.
Choose organic foods over conventionally grown foods as much as possible. Eating organic reduces your exposure to neurotoxic pesticides and herbicides. If you cant buy all organic food, refer to the Environmental Working Groups Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists to determine which types of conventional produce are lowest in pesticide residues and are safe to buy non-organic.
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How Can Protein Affect My Medication
In some people, protein may interfere with the effects of their levodopa medication. Therefore its generally advised that you should take your Parkinsons medication at least 30 to 45 minutes before meals.
Some people with Parkinsons have told us that their medication is less affected by some milk alternatives, such as rice milk, although there is no actual evidence to support this.
You may also find it helpful to:
- reduce the amount of protein you eat earlier in the day. This may help to increase the response your body has to the medication and avoid unpredictable motor fluctuations
- eat your main protein meal in the evening, as a slower response to medication may not be as
- important as at other times of the day
- If you do wish to review the timing of your protein intake, you should talk to your GP, specialist or
- Parkinsons nurse, or ask to see a registered dietitian.
You shouldnt stop eating protein altogether as its vital to help your body renew itself and fight infection. Reducing protein may cause dangerous weight loss.
We cant list all the possible side effects of all Parkinsons drugs here, but some Parkinsons medication may cause:
- nausea and vomiting
These side effects may interfere with your appetite, which may lead to you eating and drinking less. A dietitian may be able to advise you on how to manage these symptoms, especially if they affect your normal appetite.
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Foods Containing Saturated Fat And Cholesterol
Some studies suggest that dietary fat intake may increase the risk of Parkinsons.
Although having a higher intake of cholesterol can elevate a persons Parkinsons risk, having a higher intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids may reduce the risk.
Therefore, a person with Parkinsons may wish to reduce their intake of cholesterol to help control the symptoms of the condition. They may also wish to reduce the amount of saturated fat in their diet.
However, further studies are required to explore the link between dietary fat and Parkinsons.
Dry Brittle Or Crumbly Foods
Those living with PD often struggle with chewing and swallowing food. Thus, stay away from dry, brittle, crumbly, tough, or chewy foods. If you must eat tough or chewy meat, Use smaller portions and add sauce or gravy to ease consumption.
Note: the swallowing issues that may accompany Parkinsons can be dangerous, and dietary modifications may be required to safely eat and drink. Please talk to your health care team about any swallowing issues you are experiencing.
Probiotics & Parkinsons Disease
Probiotics refer to foods or nutritional supplements that contain micro-organisms meant to support health. Probiotics therefore make up a very large category of products, including certain yogurts as well as supplements in powder and pill form. You can review the use of probiotics for general health on the NIH website here. Probiotics may work by supporting a healthy balance of micro-organisms in the microbiome, defined as the trillions of microbes that live in the human gut, and possibly by modulating the bodys immune responses.
Recently, there has been concern in medical literature that the explosion of use of probiotics in the general population has outpaced our understanding of the science behind its use. Probiotics have been linked to infection, particularly in people who have compromised immune systems . Despite insufficient scientific data to support its widespread use however, ingestion of probiotics does not typically cause problems in those with normal immune systems.
In two past blogs, I wrote about the complex relationship between the gut and PD and discussed the possibility that the microbiome in patients with PD might be different than those without PD. This has led to a research interest of whether manipulating gut bacteria in PD can be therapeutic.
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Basic Concepts Of The Mediterranean Diet
The components of a Mediterranean diet include:
- Eat mainlyplant-based foods, such as a variety of fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains, nuts, and legumes, including lentils, chickpeas, beans, and peas.
- Consume a small amount of low-fat protein, either chicken or fatty fish, such as salmon, albacore tuna, or mackerel, a few times per week.
- Limit red meat to a few times a month.
- Avoid salt and instead flavor your meals with spices and herbs.
- Drink red wine in moderation .
- Replace butter with a healthier fat like extra virgin olive oil.
- Limit dairy, including cream, milk, and ice cream.
A Complete Parkinsons Diet Guide
When living with Parkinsons, diet can help you stay healthy and may help with some of the symptoms. Eating a healthy diet will lead you to not only feel better but will also lead to more likely living a longer and more full life.
Before we get started it is important to say that the only evidence-based diets that are shown to be good for Parkinsons are general healthy diets that work for everyone regardless of Parkinsons. The Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest diets out there, which is why we recommend it to those with Parkinsons.
So, with that said here are some tips and foods you should consider including in your diet if you have Parkinsons.
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Try The Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet is characterized by a high fat intaketypically 80 to 90 percent of total caloriesmoderate protein intake, and a very low carbohydrate intake. Originally developed as a treatment for refractory epilepsy in children, the ketogenic diet has exploded in popularity in recent years.
A growing body of clinical research shows the health benefits of the ketogenic diet, including weight loss and improvements in cardiovascular disease risk factors. However, some of the most exciting findings related to the ketogenic diet deals with its impact on neurological diseases like Parkinsons. In animal models of PD, the ketogenic diet reduces mitochondrial damage and improves motor function. In humans, the diet improves both motor and non-motor symptoms of PD. There are two primary ways the ketogenic diet alleviates symptoms of PD:
- Ketones are an alternative fuel source for the brain. The human brain typically relies on glucose for energy. In PD, part of the process required to produce energy from glucose is impaired, making glucose an inefficient fuel source. Ketones bypass that process and are readily taken up by the brain, so they serve as an efficient alternative energy source for neurons.
- Ketone metabolism decreases oxidative stress in the brain and reduces neuroinflammation, thus alleviating two of the underlying causes of PD.
Avoid Protein When Taking Levodopa
Levodopa is the most common drug for Parkinsons disease. Its essentially a protein that gets transferred into dopamine in the body. Dopamine is a brain chemical thats not at sufficient levels in the brains of people with Parkinsons. More dopamine can decrease symptoms of the disease. However, since Levodopa is a protein, patients should avoid eating too much protein in their food as this can prevent the drugs absorption.
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Im Not A Medical Rebel
Now I should point out here that I am not the kind of person who second-guesses his doctor!
I trust professionals and experts. They studied for years. They do the research. They know plenty.
But their most effective meds came with unpleasant side-effects.
And those meds would become less effective as time wore on.
They would work for a while and then theyd start failing.
And as they failed my health would fail even more.
What kind of future is that?
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