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Parkinson’s Diet And Nutrition

Try These Healthy Swaps

The Ideal Parkinsons Diet from a Certified Dietitian

To put the research into practice, focus on replacing some of the foods in your diet with healthier alternatives.

  • Instead of cows milk, try calcium-fortified soy milk.
  • Swap processed snack foods for nuts.
  • If you drink alcohol, have one to two glasses of red wine instead of other alcoholic beverages.
  • Buy seafood and tofu instead of red meat or poultry.
  • Instead of refined carbohydrates and sugar, go for high-fiber whole grains or naturally sweet berries.
  • Ditch saturated fats like butter and lard in favor of unsaturated fats like olive oil.

What Types Of Conversations Do You Wish More People With Parkinsons Would Have With Their Nutritionist Or Dietitian

First, I wish more people in general saw an RD. At least in the United States, RDs are not commonly a part of most peoples healthcare team, including people with Parkinson disease. There is an incredible amount of misinformation shared on the internet and social media, and it is difficult to sort through it all and determine what is credible. One of the many ways RDs can help is by clarifying this misinformation and providing practical suggestions to making healthy lifestyle changes.

Expert Voices is a monthly series involving a Q& A with an expert in the Parkinsons space about a specific topic. These topics and questions are curated from a survey in which we ask readers what they want to learn more about from experts. If youd like to submit topics or questions for consideration in a future installment of the series, click here to take the survey.

Parkinsons News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Food Water & Supplements: Does Nutrition Play A Role In Pd Symptoms Or Progression

In this 1-hour webinar Dr. Laurie Mischley describes diets associated with the risk of developing PD and evidence nutrition plays a role after diagnosis. The risks and benefits of popular diets are reviewed as well as obstacles to eating . Convenient, cost-effective, healthy dietary suggestions are provided. Calorie restriction, intermittent fasting, and the role of dietary supplements are discussed.

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For People Living With Parkinsons Disease Exercise May Be One Of The Most Powerful Tools To Fight Some Symptoms And To Slow The Diseases Degenerative Nature

In addition to maintaining overall physical and emotional health and well being, exercise tends to minimize some of the primary and secondary symptoms of early onset Parkinsons. Though exercise is not a cure, it can help people living with Parkinsons disease maintain muscle tone and function, remain flexible, and improve overall mobility.

While the precise role exercise plays in delaying the progression of the disease is still being researched, studies consistently report that those with Parkinsons Disease who exercise regularly tend to do better than those who do not. When it comes to exercise, being younger has its advantages. Younger people are usually stronger and better able to maintain a regular exercise program over time.

Many young people with Parkinsons Disease have found that they are able to combine their exercise with grass roots fundraising efforts. From the well-known walk-a-thons held across the country to the young men and women who have walked marathons to raise funds, finding sponsors who will cheer you on every step or mile can help you remain committed to an exercise plan.

Calcium And Vitamin D Intake

Eating Well With Parkinson

Osteoporosis is particularly important to avoid as falls are common in Parkinsons. It is now thought that there is a link between the severity of Parkinsons and bone density so you should ask your doctor to assess your calcium and Vitamin D to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Although Vitamin D is not found in food, the following foods may be fortified with Vitamin D:

  • Good food and beverage sources of calcium are low fat milk, fortified soy/rice beverages, fortified juice, low fat cheeses and yogurts.
  • Good food and beverage sources of vitamin D are low fat milk, fortified soy/rice beverages, fortified juice, fatty fish, and fortified yogurt.
  • There are many different kinds of calcium and vitamin D supplements. Ask your pharmacist for advice on the different kinds available. If you unable to move around, do not take calcium or vitamin D supplements without consulting your doctor.

Do as much weight-bearing exercise as you can, such as walking, dancing, or aerobics. Aim for 30 minutes or more of activity per day as often as you can. Talk to your doctor or physiotherapist on how to safely include activity into your lifestyle.

Other vitamins and minerals

Vitamins A, D, E and K tend to be found in milk and dairy food and are fat-soluble, which means that they remain in the body for some weeks before being used or expelled.


Co-Enzyme Q10


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Foods High In Saturated Fat

Although the specific role of saturated fat in Parkinsons is still being studied, research suggests that a high dietary fat intake may increase your risk of this disease .

Generally speaking, diets high in saturated fat have been linked to chronic conditions like heart disease. As such, you may wish to keep these foods in moderation (

  • some baked and fried foods

Conversely, a very small study notes that the keto diet which is high in fat is beneficial for some people with Parkinsons. However, a low fat diet also showed benefits. Overall, more research is needed .

Are There Any Surprising Ways That Diet And Nutrition Can Affect Parkinsons

A specific food-medication interaction surprised me, and it is the interaction of protein and medications with levodopa . Essentially, when someone takes their levodopa medicine simultaneously with food that contains protein, there is the possibility that they are not able to absorb all of their medication. This is due to them needing the same transporter in the small intestine , but the body will choose to absorb protein over the levodopa. The consequence of this can be that the levodopa is not fully absorbed, part of it is excreted, and the person with Parkinsons can experience more side effects since their medication is not working effectively.

What continues to surprise me about this interaction is that it is still not fully understood. Not every person with Parkinsons experiences an increase in symptoms after taking their medication when eating food with protein, but we do not know why some people experience it and others do not. There is also evidence to suggest this interaction is not just happening in the small intestine. Rather, it may occur at various other locations within the body, including the blood-brain barrier. There is still a lot more to learn about exactly how protein and this type of medication interacts, including the most effective dietary approaches to mitigate this interaction.

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The Latest In Nutrition And Parkinson’s Disease

Eating well can help you take control of your health. In fact, choosing to eat healthy foods can improve your Parkinsons disease symptoms. And some research suggests that sound nutritional choices could have disease-modifying effects, meaning that they could potentially slow PD progression. Changing your eating habits can be a challenge, but there are many small adjustments you can make to your diet that will add up to big benefits. Learning about them is the first step.

The following article is based on the latest research and a Parkinsons Foundation Expert Briefings about nutrition, hosted by John E. Duda, M.D., from Philadelphia VA Parkinsons Disease Research, Education & Clinical Center .

Are There Any Diets Trending In The Parkinsons Community Youd Caution Against Why

On the Menu: Nutrition in Parkinson’s with Northwell Health

I usually express concern with any diets or meal plans that recommend cutting out entire food groups, purchasing expensive supplements and packets, and offering quick results. Unfortunately, there is no magic pill or detox treatment that will produce miraculous results in a short timeframe.

A more specific diet I am hesitant to promote is the ketogenic diet, which is a very high-fat and low-carbohydrate diet. From a biochemical perspective, there is evidence to support that a ketogenic diet may offer neuroprotective benefits, but there is no data to support any long-term benefit in people with Parkinsons. From a practical perspective, following a true ketogenic diet is challenging to adhere to and even more so to sustain. There are key nutrients from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that will be missed when cutting back carbohydrates to the degree that it requires. For anyone who is considering this diet, I always recommend they be monitored by a healthcare professional.

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Diet And The Pd Microbiome

The human gastrointestinal tract harbors trillions of microorganisms collectively referred to as the microbiome . We have a symbiotic relationship with the microbiota . We provide them with an environment and food and they provide us with a myriad of benefits. The microbiota helps ward off harmful microorganisms , regulate immunity, and produce substances such as vitamins, secondary bile acids, and short chain fatty acids . For example, dietary fiber is used as a food source by the intestinal microbiota. Dietary fiber is a general term for consumed plant-based complex carbohydrates that are largely not digested by mammalian enzymes in the small intestine and consequently cannot be absorbed. However, they are available to be used as a food source by the intestinal microbiota . Colonic bacterial fermentation of these dietary fibers generates metabolic byproducts and especially important are SCFA . In contrast to these beneficial commensal bacteria, there are also pathogenic bacteria that can cause GIT dysfunction and inflammation in the intestinal mucosa, systemic circulation, and even in the brain . Thus, the balance of microbiota influences not only the GIT, but also organs throughout the body including the brain .

Fad Diets To Avoid Or Be Skeptical Of:

There are many fad diets out there that someone with Parkinsons should be skeptical of such as the Caveman diet, Carnivore diet, Whole30 diet and many more. While these new diets claim to be the best thing since sliced bread many of them are unsustainable and not healthy for you in the long run.

Something else to watch out for are diets specific for Parkinsons. Thats right, you are reading a Parkinsons diet blog warning you of the dangers of Parkinsons specific diets. We do this because there is a lot of small studies out their claiming a specific food or nutrient will help with your Parkinsons while the truth is there really isnt any strong evidence for any of it. Worse yet, some of these foods or nutrients when taken in excess quantities can do more harm than good. The only real 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.

*In the past this blog has recommended specific healthy nutrients or foods for Parkinsons, we have since updated the blog to better reflect scientific consensus

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Taking Your Drugs And Food Together

Levodopa is the best medication for Parkinsonâs. Ideally, you should take it on an empty stomach, about 30 minutes before eating or at least one hour after a meal. But that can cause nausea in some people. Your doctor may prescribe something else or a different mix of drugs, which may not always make the nausea go away. In that case, your doctor may recommend you take medication for your side effects.

Also, ask your doctor if you should cut down on protein. In rare cases, a high-protein diet can make levodopa work less well.

Foods For Pd Symptoms


Nutrition adjustments can help ease some of PDs most common symptoms, both of a motor and a non-motor nature. If you experience digestive difficulties, especially constipation , try to drink more fluids, and increase your fiber intake with fruits and vegetables such as kiwi, apples, prunes, dates, figs, radishes, berries, nuts and beans. Probiotic supplements like Bifidobacterium , that add healthy bacteria to the gut, may also be helpful.

If drinking more water leads to urinary incontinence or urgency, increase your fluid intake by eating foods with a high water content such as tomato, cucumber, radish, celery, broccoli and grapefruit. If you struggle with weight loss or loss of appetite, try increasing your calorie intake by eating nuts and foods that contain healthy fats, like coconut and avocado. To stimulate your appetite, try bitter greens like collard and beet greens, or spicy foods. Exercise can increase muscle mass and hunger.

Fatigue and sleep difficulties are also common symptoms of PD. The culprit of these problems may be sugar. When eaten during the day, sweets briefly boost energy, but make you sleepy later. When eaten in the evening, they may keep you awake.

Another reason to limit sugar is that it causes a spike in blood glucose, which contributes to inflammation. When reaching for a snack, try foods that offer a balance of protein and fat, like nuts or avocado, or whole-grain complex carbohydrates, like brown rice and quinoa.

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Combine Exercise With Diet

Dr. Gostkowski says if you want to feel your best, combine a healthy diet with exercise. Research has shown that regular exercise can improve PD symptoms.

Do exercise that raises your heart rate, Dr. Gostkowski says. Aim for about 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Dont worry about specific exercises. Do an activity you enjoy, as long as it gets your heart rate up. Try brisk walking or biking or more advanced exercise for veteran athletes. I recommend seeing an occupational therapist. They can tailor an exercise program to your needs.

Do You Advocate For Any Particular Diets For People With Parkinsons Why

There are several diets that are being investigated in Parkinson disease, and it is challenging to recommend a particular diet when this area of research is still new. Since there is not one diet recommended for people with Parkinsons, taking an individualized approach under the guidance of a registered dietitian is advised.

What we do know is that a varied, whole food, plant-based diet is considered a healthy dietary pattern for most individuals, including those with Parkinsons. Plant-based does not mean it is exclusively vegetarian or vegan, but there is a special emphasis on getting most of your nutrients from plant sources rather than animal products.

There is compelling evidence to support recommending diets such as the Mediterranean diet and the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay diet, but there is not conclusive research at this time to support these diets in slowing disease progression. Yet, these are both plant-based diets that have evidence to support their prevention of cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline, which is often a priority of people with Parkinson disease.

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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.

When You Have No Appetite

Nutrition and Parkinsons Disease

Some days, you just may not feel like eating at all.

Talk to your doctor. Sometimes, depression can cause poor appetite. Your hunger likely will return when you get treatment.

Walk or do another light activity to rev up your appetite.

Drink beverages after youâve finished eating so you donât feel full before the meal.

Include your favorite foods in your menu. Eat the high-calorie foods on your plate first. But avoid empty calories from sugary sodas, candies, and chips.

Perk up your meals by trying different dishes and ingredients.

Choose high-protein and high-calorie snacks, including:

  • Cereal with half and half

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A Healthy Parkinsons Diet

While the Mediterranean diet may help people with Parkinsons, it is important to remember that you need to focus on your whole diet and not just a small part of it. Eating healthy in general and making smart dietary decisions is what will make the difference for your overall health and well-being.

A few healthy diet tips are below:

  • Reduce sugar intake
  • Eat lots of fruits, vegetables and grains
  • Eat foods high in fiber
  • Drink lots of water
  • Avoid consuming saturated fat and cholesterol.
  • Consume alcohol in moderation.
  • Talk to your doctor about setting up the best diet for you.

Our complete Parkinsons diet guide should help you on your way to setting up your Parkinsons diet to live a healthier life. As always, each individual is different so, please contact your doctor and discuss with them before making any dietary changes.

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Eat Plenty Of Protein But Not With Levodopa Medications

If youre taking a levodopa medication, your doctor may tell you to avoid protein when taking your meds. Both animal and plant protein can interfere with the absorption of levodopa medications.

But you should still eat plenty of protein. Just be strategic with the timing. Dont take levodopa medications with meals, Dr. Gostkowski says. Its best to take it on an empty stomach either 30 minutes before your meal or an hour after eating.

If you get nauseous from the medication, eat a small amount of starchy food with it, such as crackers. Make sure whatever you eat with your medicine doesnt have protein. Its a misunderstanding that people with Parkinsons should avoid protein, Dr. Gostkowski says. You definitely need protein in your diet. Just dont eat it when youre taking your levodopa medication.

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