Introduction To Eating Right With Parkinson’s Disease
While there is no special diet required for people with Parkinson’s disease, eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet is extremely beneficial. With the proper diet, our bodies work more efficiently, we have more energy, and Parkinson’s disease medications will work properly.
This article addresses the basics of good nutrition. Please consult your doctor or dietitian before making any dietary changes. A registered dietitian can provide in-depth nutrition education, tailor these general guidelines to meet your needs, and help you create and follow a personal meal plan.
Eating When Youre Tired
If you donât have energy for meals later in the day, you can:
Pick foods that are easy to fix, and save your energy for eating. If you live with your family, let them help you make your meal.
Look into a delivery service. Some grocery stores have them. Or you can check if you might be able to get food delivered from your local Meals on Wheels program for free or for a small fee.
Keep healthy snack foods on hand, like fresh fruit and vegetables or high-fiber cold cereals.
Freeze extra portions of what you cook so you have a quick meal when you feel worn out.
Rest before you eat so you can enjoy your meal. And eat your biggest meal early in the day to fuel yourself for later.
Finding A Balance With Protein
Finding the right balance of how much protein to eat can be difficult for people with PD. You need protein as part of a balanced diet, but too much protein can interfere with the absorption of commonly prescribed drugs such as Levodopa , especially in the later stages of the disease.
Some doctors recommend concentrating your intake of meat, fish, and cheese to dinnertime and focusing on eating carbohydrates and vegetables during the day. Others may find that it works better to divide their protein evenly among smaller meals throughout the day.1,2,3
Also Check: L Tyrosine For Parkinson’s
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.
Helpful Food For Parkinson’s
Here are some guidelines on which foods help best manage Parkinsons disease.
- Vary your food. Eating different types of food will ensure that you consume the essential vitamins and minerals that you need to manage Parkinsons disease.
- Increase your fiber intake. Consuming high-fiber vegetables and other food aids digestion, eases constipation, and helps you feel full longer.
- Eat more whole grain foods such as brown rice, pasta, whole wheat bread, oatmeal, or crackers.
Don’t Miss: Stem Cells For Parkinson’s Disease Therapy
How Does Fibre Help
Fibre absorbs fluid as it moves through your bowel, forming a soft stool that can be passed more easily.
It is very important to increase your fluid intake if you increase the fibre in your diet, because too much fibre without enough fluid can increase constipation.
A dietitian can give you more information and advice.
How can I increase my fibre intake?
Fibre is found in cereals, seeds, nuts, fruit, vegetables and pulses, such as peas, beans and lentils. To increase your fibre intake you can try:
- eating high-fibre varieties of foods, such as wholemeal bread, pasta or brown rice
- altering recipes to use some wholemeal flour instead of all white flour
- choosing a breakfast cereal containing wheat, wheatbran or oats, such as Weetabix, porridge or bran flakes
- eating more vegetables. They can be raw or cooked, fresh or frozen. Try using more peas, beans or lentils
- eating more fruit. It can be fresh, stewed, tinned or dried. Try bananas, oranges or prunes
- gradually introducing ground linseeds. You can add 1 teaspoon to cereals, salads or yoghurts to start with and increase this over time to 1 tablespoon. If you do this, make sure you drink an extra glass of fluid a day, otherwise it wont work and may make constipation worse
When increasing your intake of fibre, it is important to do so gradually to avoid bloating or flatulence . Aim to introduce 1 new high-fibre food every 3 days.
Foods To Eat With Parkinsons Disease
Research suggests that fruits, vegetables, and seafood can provide many of the nutrients needed to slow aging and neurological degeneration associated with Parkinsons. Eat the rainbow by including a variety of vibrant plant foods dark leafy greens, pumpkin, berries, mangos, broccoli, and more. This will help ensure that you get lots of phytonutrients in your diet. Incorporating antioxidants is important because these nutrients help prevent damage to cells that make dopamine, the brain chemical primarily involved in Parkinsons development.
Nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables are also high in fiber to help prevent constipation, a common symptom of Parkinsons.
In addition to fruits and vegetables, foods that may also be neuroprotective include:
To avoid weight gain, choose less energy-dense foods, including:
- Broth-based soups
- Lean proteins
Its possible to find nutritious options on either end of the calorie spectrum if you choose whole foods that are naturally high in vitamins and minerals. Have fun with different preparation methods, such as grilling, making stir-fries, or adding ingredients to the blender for smoothies and pureed soups.
Also Check: What New In Parkinson Treatment
The Best Foods For Parkinsons
People suffering from Parkinsons disease should try to maintain a diet heavy in the following foods:
WaterOne symptom of Parkinsons is constipation. Drinking water throughout the day can help with that.
Prunes and berriesPrunes and berries, which are rich with antioxidants, fiber, vitamin A and potassium, are also good for staving off constipation.
FishSalmon, trout, tuna and sardines contain high levels of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to counter the neuro-inflammation brought on by Parkinsons. Depression and fatigue have also been linked to Parkinsons and omega-3 fats can provide a mental and emotional boost.
BroccoliAntioxidants, fiber, vitamin C, calcium, iron and magnesium are all found in broccoli. Magnesium acts as a natural relaxant and can fight certain Parkinsons symptoms such as muscle tremors, spasms, insomnia, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat and hyperactivity.
ChocolateSufferers of Parkinsons have a good excuse to indulge in chocolate. The flavonoids and antioxidants can reduce the risk of strokes and cardiovascular disease and cocoa can increase serotonin in the brain, which helps regulate mood.
GingerParkinsons doesnt necessarily cause nausea, but the medication used to treat it often does. Ginger has been used for centuries to help with nausea.
PistachiosThe vitamin K in pistachios has potential for reestablishing lost connections between neurons and the lithium in them can improve mood.
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.
Also Check: Protein And Parkinson’s Medication
Special Diets For Parkinsons
Certain foods, vitamins or special diets are sometimes recommended as being beneficial if you have Parkinson’s. You should always discuss any special food or diet with your doctor or dietitian as there is generally no scientific evidence to support these.
Broad beans are reputed to help Parkinson’s symptoms as they contain levodopa but unfortunately this is in such small and variable amounts that they cannot be effective. The quantity that would necessary in order to obtain an effective amount of levodopa would probably cause illness or other side effects.
Services To Help Those With Parkinsons
While there is no specific diet for Parkinsons disease, it is important to maintain good overall health by eating a variety of foods. Individuals with PD may have trouble following a healthy diet. An in-home care agency can help prepare and serve nutritious meals, assist with feeding, and help with cleanup after meals. If you are a loved one is suffering from Parkinsons disease and require services, contact an in-home care agency today.
Couples Care: Keeping Relationships Whole
One guide you might find helpful:
Selecting an in-home caregiver? Learn why couples care is an affordable solution for families.
Don’t Miss: What Does Parkinson’s Look Like
Optimise Your Diet Reduce Your Toxic Load
While the cause of Parkinsons is not known, environmental toxins such as pesticides and herbicides are implicated. Researchers have found levels of these chemicals to be higher in the brains of Parkinsons sufferers and incidence of Parkinsons is higher in areas with greater use of these chemicals. It makes sense to avoid any environmental toxins that you can. Also, consider your intake of dietary toxins such as alcohol and caffeine avoiding or reducing these may reduce the load on your bodys detoxification pathways.
Foods To Avoid When Constipated
Constipation is a common problem for people with Parkinsons disease, often due to decreased gastric motility, a slowing of the natural movement of food from the stomach into the intestines.1,3
Foods that may make constipation worse include low-fiber choices such as:
- white rice
- red meat, such as beef, hot dogs, bacon, or sausage
Beverages to avoid include anything with caffeine, such as coffee, tea, or sodas. Alcohol is not recommended because it dehydrates your body, which can make constipation worse.
Read Also: Fda Approved Parkinson’s Drugs
Tips For Eating With Parkinsons
Eating right with Parkinsons disease is as much about what you eat as how you eat it. There are several eating habits those with Parkinsons can adopt to better manage their symptoms.
- People suffering from Parkinsons may experience trouble chewing or swallowing. Dunk bread, toast, cookies and crackers in milk or water to soften them before chewing or take a drink along with each bite to soften food.
- Because fatigue and muscle tremors are common symptom of Parkinsons, select meals that are easy to prepare or seek help from family members or a meal delivery service.
- Many people with Parkinsons disease struggle with weight management. Weigh yourself weekly, avoid foods with added sugars and ask your doctor about taking nutritional supplements.
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.
Recommended Reading: Parkinson’s Donations In Memory Of
The Basics Of Eating Well
- Eat a variety of foods from each food category. Ask your doctor if you should take a daily vitamin supplement.
- Maintain your weight through a proper balance of exercise and food. Ask your doctor what your “goal” weight should be and how many calories you should consume per day.
- Include high-fiber foods such as vegetables, cooked dried peas and beans , whole-grain foods, bran, cereals, pasta, rice, and fresh fruit in your diet.
- Choose foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
- Try to limit sugars.
- Moderate your use of salt.
- Drink eight 8 oz. glasses of water per day.
- Ask your doctor about drinking alcoholic beverages .
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
- dry mouth
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.
Don’t Miss: Stretching Exercises For Parkinson’s Patients
How To Eat Well
Eat a variety of foods from each food category, like fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. If you think you need vitamin supplements, check with your doctor first.
Keep your weight in the healthy range for your age and height with exercise and a good diet.
Load up on fiber with foods like broccoli, peas, apples, cooked split peas and beans, whole-grain breads, cereals, and pasta.
Cut down on sugar, salt, and saturated fats from meat and dairy, and cholesterol.
Drink 8 cups of water every day.
Ask your doctor you can drink alcohol. It may keep your medications from working right.
Maintaining A Healthy Weight
Parkinsons may lead to gain weight due to reduced mobility. Being overweight can strain your joints which can in turn make moving around more difficult. If this happens you may be advised to watch your diet and control the calories you consume, for example by avoiding fried foods, sweet desserts, cakes, biscuits and sugary drinks.
More commonly, people with Parkinsons lose weight. If you lose weight this may be due to a number of factors loss of appetite, difficulty eating or swallowing, nausea, using extra energy to cope with symptoms such as dyskinesia or your body may not absorb nutrients efficiently. Various medications may also affect your body weight.
The following suggestions may help increase your calorie intake:
- Try eating four or five small but appetising meals a day, with a snack between each meal.
- Incorporate a little more butter, cream, peanut butter, milkshakes, biscuits, chocolate and dessert, but make sure you take good care of your teeth if you eat a lot of sugary food!
- Add three or four tablespoons of milk powder to half a litre of full cream milk to make it more nutritious.
- Try nutritious drinks specially formulated to easily increase calorie intake.
- Eat food that you like as you are likely to consume more.
- If you find cutlery difficult to use, try to have some meals that you can manage with your fingers or using only a spoon.
Also Check: Parkinson’s Lower Back Pain
Nutrition Tip #: Get Enough Protein
The right amount of protein is important because we lose muscle faster as we age, so we need to make sure were eating enough to prevent even faster muscle loss. For people with Parkinsons disease getting enough protein can be even more challenging if limiting protein when taking Levodopa to maximize the medications benefits. Protein needs are based on many factors, including age, gender, activity level and the timing of when to eat protein differs depending on types and timing of medications. Protein is also important because it can be a good source of B vitamins and in particular vitamin B 12, which is often found to be low in people who have Parkinsons disease. Include a variety of protein foods, like lean beef, chicken, fish and eggs, along with dairy and plant-based protein . Talking with your doctor or a registered dietitian can help you determine how much protein is right for you and when throughout the day is best to eat protein.
What Is Parkinsons Disease
Parkinsons Disease is a progressive neurological disorder which affects around 120,000 people in the UK. Progressive means that it typically worsens over time and neurological means that it affects the nervous system . The main symptoms of Parkinsons are slowness of movement , rigidity, tremor and postural instability . While Parkinsons is typically described as a movement disorder, a person with Parkinsons may experience a range of other symptoms including constipation, low mood, fatigue, sleep and memory problems. Symptoms of Parkinsons can be grouped into two major categories motor symptoms and non-motor symptoms .
Parkinsons typically strikes in middle age, with around 80% of cases presenting between ages of 40 and 70, and progression of symptoms is generally slow and continuous. Younger people who develop Parkinsons are more likely to have a relative with the illness suggesting a stronger genetic component. Symptoms usually begin gradually and motor symptoms are often preceded by non-motor symptoms such as fatigue, loss of smell, depression, constipation and sweating abnormalities.
If you are concerned that you or a friend or family member has symptoms of Parkinsons, you or they should see a GP immediately.
Also Check: Effect Of Exercise On Parkinson’s Disease