What Causes Parkinsons Disease
It is unknown what exactly causes Parkinsons disease. Experts speculate that genetic predisposition may be the causative factor in some cases.
Parkinsons disease could be a result of the following factors:
- Changes in the substantia nigra, a movement controlling region of the brain.
- Gradual breakdown, impairment, or death of certain nerve cells that produce a chemical messenger in the brain called dopamine, making it hard for the brain to coordinate muscle movements.
- Absence of dopamine that impairs communication between the nerve cells in the brain and the rest of the body. Dopamine plays a key role in many body functions, including memory, movement, motivation, mood, and attention. Low dopamine contributes to mood and cognitive problems.
- Early-onset Parkinsons disease is often inherited and is the result of certain gene defects.
Although not clear, some researchers have speculated that Parkinsons disease could be a result of other factors, including:
- Presence of Lewy bodies: Substances within the brain cells that seem to be microscopic markers of Parkinson’s disease.
- Presence of Alpha-synuclein: Protein found within Lewy bodies in a clumped form that cells cannot break down.
A Completely New Way To Replace Lost Cells
Parkinson’s UK Deputy Director of Research David Dexter said:
“Replacing the cells that are lost in Parkinson’s is a possible way to reverse its symptoms, and could one day be a cure for the condition.
“This research is hugely promising, as it offers a completely new way to replace cells that are lost in Parkinson’s.
“However, the location of the new cells created through this process could make it difficult to control the delivery of dopamine to the brain.
“Further development of this technique is now needed, so it encourages dopamine to be produced and released in a controlled manner, like the original brain cells.
“If successful, it would turn this approach into a viable therapy that could improve the lives of people with Parkinson’s and, ultimately, lead to the cure that millions are waiting for.”
Restricting Diet May Reverse Early
A new Oregon Health & Science University and Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center study suggests that early-stage Parkinsons disease patients who lower their calorie intake may boost levels of an essential brain chemical lost from the neurodegenerative disorder.
The study by Charles Meshul, Ph.D., associate professor of behavioral neuroscience in the OHSU School of Medicine and the VAMCs Neurocytology Lab, shows that dietary restriction reverses a Parkinsons-induced drop in glutamate, a brain neurotransmitter important for motor control, function and learning, in a mouse model for the diseases early stages.
The results, presented today at the Society for Neurosciences 35th annual meeting in Washington, D.C., are the first to show that a restricted diet can disable neurochemical changes in the brain occurring in early-stage Parkinsons even after those changes are observed.
In the early stages of the disease, we see certain markers in the brain that are changing that may be indicative that dietary restriction is helpful, Meshul said.
Parkinsons disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder affecting a region of the brain called the substantia nigra where movement is controlled. Symptoms such as tremor or shaking, muscular stiffness or rigidity, slowness of movement and difficulty with balance appear when about 80 percent of cells in the body that produce the neurochemical dopamine die or become impaired.
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How Is Diet And Parkinson Interrelated
Parkinsons and diet are interrelated. The diet in Parkinsons plays an essential role in treating Parkinsons symptoms as there are many dopamine foods for Parkinsons disease to get the nourishing diet for the same.
It is recommended that the people with Parkinsons illness should keep up a healthy diet regime, including the variety of whole grains, vegetables, milk, and dairy items, fresh vegetables, and protein-rich nourishments, for example, meat and beans. Additionally, consider including nuts, olive oil, fish, and eggs to your eating regime.
Thus, the right nourishments will likewise optimize your Parkinsons medication, which helps in keeping your bones healthy and helps to fight against constipation and maintain your overall general wellbeing.
Eating an assortment of nourishments will assist you with getting the vitality, protein, nutrients, minerals, and fiber you require in Parkinsons.
You should pick an eating regime with a lot of grains, vegetables, and organic products, which gives nutrients, minerals, fiber, and complex starches and can assist, you in bringing down your intake of fats in the body. In addition to this, reduce your sugar, salt and sodium intake, which helps in maintaining your BP levels.
A Lower Protein Diet To Help Meds Work Better
Your diet can impact how well your medication helps to manage common Parkinson’s symptoms, including tremors and constipation.
Diets heavy in protein, for instance, can limit your body’s absorption of levodopa in Sinemet, a common medication used in the management of Parkinson’s disease. As a result, some doctors recommend that people with Parkinson’s limit protein intake to 12 percent of their total daily calories. And taking your medication on an empty stomach before your meals can help your body absorb the drug, notes the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation recommends avoiding certain foods because of possible medication interactions, including:
In addition, fruits and vegetables in your diet may protect nerve cell function and possibly help keep Parkinson’s symptoms under control. Fruits and veggies also provide fiber, which can stimulate bowel movement and prevent constipation. Ask your doctor for a referral to a nutritionist to help make it easier to follow a healthy diet.
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Scientifically Backed Ways To Prevent Parkinsons Disease
Dopamine plays a major role in a variety of mental and physical functions, including:
- Voluntary movement
- General behavior
Parkinsons now afflicts roughly 1.5 million people in the United States alone, with primary symptoms being body tremors, slow movement, rigid limbs, reduced memory, a shuffling gait and speech impairment. So we have to ask:
1.) What causes it?
2.) How do we prevent it?
Currently there isnt a known cure, and its not fully understood what causes the dip in dopamine however, we know that aging is the single most important risk factor for PD, with inflammation and stress contributing to cell damage. And we now know enough about the disease to understand the preventative measures that counter the aging and death of the neurons under attack.
Because there is no known cure, its critical that we prevent the disease before symptoms arise. Granted, thanks to recent advancements in modern surgical procedures, there are some safe surgeries that can mitigate some of the more severe symptoms associated with PD. The most common one now is deep brain stimulation, in which they implant an electrode into the brain that can stop some of the more severe symptoms of Parkinsons.
But this article will try to keep it from getting to that point. The less drugs and surgery we can have in our lives, the better.
Finding May Renew Interest In Parkinsons Drug
Parkinsons disease is a progressive degenerative brain disorder. The disease attacks the cells that make the chemical dopamine. This leads to loss of muscle movement control and disability, as well as tremors that are associated with the disease. Other symptoms include slow movement, stiff muscles, aches, and problems with balance and coordination.
There is no cure for the disease. But medications, which boost dopamine levels, can help manage symptoms.
An improvement in symptoms was seen in a small study of people with Parkinsons disease who received an injection of the drug into the affected brain region. There is a strong association between the level of disability from the disease and the severity of dopamine loss in the brain.
But a second study was halted after the drugs maker Amgen withdrew GDNF in part due to safety reasons.
After a 62-year-old man who had participated in the first trial of GDNF died of an unrelated heart attack three months after the treatment stopped, researchers analyzed his brain and reported their findings in the current issue of Nature Medicine.
Because GDNF had been infused into only one side of the brain, researchers say they were able to assess the impact of treatment by comparing the two sides.
They say the findings may renew interest in GDNF as a potential therapy for Parkinsons disease.
SOURCES: Love, S. Nature Medicine, July 2005 online edition vol11: pp 703-704. Press release, University of Bristol.
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Gait Training To Improve Balance
Patients with Parkinson’s symptoms can enhance their treatment by doing what’s called “gait training” at home. This involves practicing new ways to stand, walk, and turn. People undergoing gait training should try to:
Practice gait training with the help of a metronome, a tool musicians use to keep a steady beat. A study published in March 2010 in PLoS One showed that when people with Parkinson’s walked to the sound of a metronome set about 10 percent faster than their fastest stride, it significantly improved their gait.
You can also try dance classes for people with Parkinson’s through the Dance for PD program, which is supported by a grant from the National Parkinson Foundation. The classes first started in Brooklyn, New York, and are now found in locations across the globe.
Take Pd Medications With Small Snacks Not Meals
Dopaminergic medications need to be taken away from high-fat, high-protein meals because amino acids and peptides compete for absorption across the blood-brain barrier, and high-volume meals can dilute stomach acid and delay the absorption of medication into the bloodstream. If you eat a big steak with your dopamine meds, they wont be absorbed as well as if you ate them with a lower-protein snack like an apple.
Because of the need to avoid combining protein with dopaminergic medications, people with Parkinsons have to be very careful to make sure they still get enough total protein in the day and that they optimize their nutrition. Protein is important because it helps our bodies heal, repair tissues, and balance blood sugar, among many other things. It pays to work with a naturopathic doctor, registered dietitian, or nutritionist who can help you develop a plan that works for you to still optimize your nutrition while you increase your ability to absorb medications. Some of my strategies for PD patients involve an adjusted feeding schedule, protein shakes between meals, small and frequent snacks throughout the day, and collagen powders in drinks that my clients dont take with meds.
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Are Complementary Therapies Beneficial
Theres no simple answer to this. There are so many types of therapy that its impossible to generalise.
Theres evidence of the beneficial effect of some complementary therapies . For other therapies, there is no research to prove it has any benefits for people with Parkinsons. But we hear from many people affected who feel it helps them.
It will also depend on what you expect from complementary therapies. For example, you may feel a particular therapy is not having a positive effect on your Parkinsons symptoms, but you may enjoy the experience. For you, this might be enough of a reason to continue.
Weve included comments from people affected by Parkinsons who have tried some of the therapies. We hope this will give you a better idea of what people are trying and how they found it. But remember that everyone will have a different experience.
Please remember these are peoples personal opinions Parkinsons UK doesnt endorse any particular therapy.
People may use complementary therapies alongside prescribed medication for many reasons, for example:
- Conventional medicine might not always control someones symptoms.
- Complementary therapy is a way of taking control of your own health.
- Group therapy can be an opportunity to socialise. Equally, complementary therapies can be a time to enjoy your own company.
- Complementary therapies can be relaxing.
So What Does Nutrition Have To Do With Parkinsons
1. The neurotransmitter dopamine is made in the body from amino acids which are the building blocks of protein. Every time we eat a protein rich food we take in protein, which the body breaks down into its component amino acids. Two amino acids are converted in the body into L-Dopa, which is then converted into dopamine in the brain.
2. Nutrient co-factors are required for each stage of this conversion process, so deficiencies of these may reduce dopamine production.
3. L-dopa medication competes for absorption with dietary amino acids, therefore the timing of taking L-dopa and the eating of protein needs to be managed for optimal absorption and effectiveness of the drug and the reduction of side-effects.
Therefore, the nutritional therapy approach to Parkinsons includes:
1. Supporting dopamine production by ensuring adequate precursors and co-factors
2. Considering drug-nutrient interactions to enhance effectiveness and reduce side-effects
3. Optimising nutritional status and addressing co-morbidities . These co-morbidities include constipation, depression, fatigue, and insomnia.
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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.
How Might Massage Therapy Help
Research suggests that massage may help to reduce pain and anxiety and depression, although theres no conclusive evidence. Abdominal massage may also help with constipation.
Many people with Parkinsons and their carers have told us they find massage therapy useful as a way to relax and to have time to themselves.
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How To Manage Parkinsons Disease At Home
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Home Remedyfor Parkinsons #8 Green Tea:
Green tea contains theanine, a nutrient that increasesdopamine levels in the brain, and polyphenol antioxidants that help fight free radicals. Three separate studies all found that regularlydrinking tea can either delay or prevent the development of PD. A retrospectivestudy also found that drinking three or more cups of tea a day can delay the onsetof motor symptoms. And a 2007 study found that green tea polyphenols protect braincells and dopamine neurons, and this positive effect increases with the moregreen tea consumed. 10
The minimum amount that should be drank every day is 3cups, with 6-9 cups a day being the ideal.Matcha green tea is the most potent and beneficial so try and purchase this ifyou can. A strong cup of coffee first thing in the morning is thought tobe effective for reducing the symptoms of Parkinsons disease as well, however,we recommend you stick with green tea, or even a strong cup of black tea ifyou can for the theanine and EGCGs.
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Neurogenesis In The Substantia Nigra And Promising Stem Cell Treatments
In last weeks post I explained that Parkinsons disease is a degenerative neurological condition in which dopaminergic neurons in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra die off. Other parts of the brain suffer neurodegeneration as well, causing some of the non-motor symptoms of Parkinsons. Ill now discuss promising research about neurogenesis as it applies to Parkinsons disease if youre not familiar with neurogenesis, I encourage you to read this post.
In 2003, scientists in Sweden demonstrated that neurogenesis occurs in the substantia nigra of adult mice. Their research showed that the type of dopaminergic neurons lost in Parkinsons disease are actually regenerated throughout life. While the rate of neurogenesis in the substantia nigra is slower than in the hippocampus, if the rate of neural turnover is constant, the entire population of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra could be replaced during the lifespan of a mouse. The study showed that not only does neurogenesis in the substantia nigra occur, but the newborn neurons are then integrated into neural circuits.
One of the study authors notes that the reprogrammed cells would probably be damaged by whatever caused Parkinsons in the first place. In cell transplants for other health conditions, disease tends to catch up with transplanted cells in 15-20 years. Treatments to enhance endogenous neurogenesis will likely buy Parkinsons patients important time, but they may need to be repeated.