Lifestyle Changes For Managing Parkinson’s Disease
The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease progress over time, affecting the nervous system. You may experience tremors, stiff muscles, impeded movement, difficult balancing and changes in your speech. The type of symptoms you have and the severity depend on the stage of the disease, which begins as mild and moves to moderate and then advanced. While these symptoms can be frustrating and disruptive to daily life, managing Parkinson’s disease is possible. Learn about lifestyle changes to help you cope and maintain as much quality of life as possible.
Foods Containing Nutrients That People May Be Deficient In
Some research suggests that people with Parkinsons often have certain nutrient deficiencies, including deficiencies in iron, vitamin B1, vitamin C, zinc, and vitamin D.
The above study points out that some of these deficiencies may be associated with neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration, which are key factors in Parkinsons.
Therefore, people with Parkinsons may wish to consume more of the following foods.
Foods containing iron
The following foods are good sourcesof iron:
- certain fortified foods
How Does Parkinsons Disease Change The Way You Eat
If youve been diagnosed with Parkinsons disease, you may have noticed some changes in your appetite and eating habits, says Dr. Subramanian.
For example, some of your prescription medications may work best on an empty stomach, but they may also cause nausea in some people when taken without food.
We advise people to take their medication about an hour before meals, if possible, to avoid any protein interaction, Subramanian says. Eating protein-rich foods like meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, nuts, and beans too close to the time you take medications can interfere with how the body processes some medications prescribed to treat Parkinsons disease, which may cause them to work less quickly or less effectively.
If you experience nausea after taking your medication on an empty stomach, your doctor may recommend eating a small, light snack like crackers or applesauce before taking your pills.
Subramanian also notes that loss of appetite and subsequent weight loss are a major concern for people with Parkinsons disease. This may be caused by symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, decreased ability to taste or smell, nausea side effects from medications, or movement problems that make it difficult to eat.
To address these issues, the Parkinsons Foundation recommends:
Also Check: Idiopathic Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
Connect With Those Who Understand
On MyParkinsonsTeam, the social network for people with Parkinsons disease and their loved ones, more than 90,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with the condition.
Do you have any tips to help improve off time? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.
Complex Parkinsons Disease And Palliative Care
Complex Parkinsons disease is defined as the stage when treatment is unable to consistently control symptoms, or the person has developed uncontrollable jerky movements .
These problems can still be helped by adjustment or addition of some of the medications used to treat Parkinsons disease, under the supervision of a doctor with a specialist interest in Parkinsons disease.
As Parkinsons disease progresses, youll be invited to discuss the care you want with your healthcare team as you near the end of your life. This is known as palliative care.
When theres no cure for an illness, palliative care tries to alleviate symptoms, and is also aimed at making the end of a persons life as comfortable as possible.
This is done by attempting to relieve pain and other distressing symptoms, while providing psychological, social and spiritual support for you and your family.
Palliative care can be provided at home or in a hospice, residential home or hospital.
You may want to consider talking to your family and care team in advance about where youd like to be treated and what care you wish to receive.
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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.
The Symptoms To Watch For
Individuals with Parkinsons disease will often experience symptoms differently. However, there are similarities in the main types of symptoms seen in this condition. These symptoms include tremors, slowness of movement , the stiffness of the trunk and limbs , and impaired coordination and balance . Patients may also experience the loss of automatic movements and changes in writing and speech.
Tremors usually begin in the patients fingers or hands even when at rest. Their forefinger and thumb may rub each other in a pill-rolling tremor. Bradykinesia results in tasks feeling more challenging and taking much longer to do. An individuals steps may shorten, and their feet may drag. Stiff muscles can reduce the range of motion and cause pain. The patients posture may stoop, and balance may weaken when standing or walking. Speech changes may result in reduced volume, slurring, hesitating, or speaking too quickly. Writing may become difficult.
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 .
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.
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Strategies For Stress Management
What is stress? Per Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, it is “any physical, physiological or psychological force that disturbs equilibrium.” These disturbances in a person with Parkinson’s Disease can have some particular effects. Stress can reduce the effectiveness of levodopa in the medical management of persons with Parkinson’s Disease. The ability to cope with stress may help prevent exacerbations of parkinsonian tremors caused by the stress. Chronic stress also has the potential to increase susceptibility to depression and anxiety in persons with Parkinson’s. Strategies for stress management can thus be impactful for the person with Parkinson’s.
What causes stress? Determining the factors creating stress can be the first step in managing it. Consider the following potential causes of stress:
What are some strategies to manage stress? Once the source of the stress is identified, select strategies may be applied to manage that stress. However, it is important to realise that not all approaches will be appropriate for every person.
If the above strategies are not effective enough, consider referring the patient to a stress management specialist, psychologist or counsellor.
Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms: Are They Manageable
Currently, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. The goal of treatment is to mitigate symptoms, such as the following.
- Tremors: About 80% of people with Parkinson’s disease will experience tremors, the involuntary shaking of different parts of the body. This symptom can affect the hands, feet, legs, jaw and mouth, and it typically occurs when you are at rest. Tremors usually start on one side of the body, although they can progress to affect both sides of the body. Because the tremors tend to go away with movement, they do not necessarily have a major impact on daily life.
Tremors can still be frustrating. They can cause you to drop things and make simple tasks like eating difficult. Some small adjustments can make living with tremors more manageable. For example, when doing something with your hands like eating or shaving, try sitting down instead of standing. Also, try bracing your elbows on a table while doing these things.
- Slowed movements: Parkinson’s disease can also cause slowed movements, known as bradykinesia. Bradykinesia can take a wide variety of forms, but it does affect all Parkinson’s disease patients. It may mean reduced motion in your arms as you walk, difficulty walking, trouble completing repetitive movements and limited facial expressions.
The severity of bradykinesia can increase over time. Exercise to stretch and strengthen your muscles is one potentially helpful approach to mitigating this symptom.
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Living Well With Parkinsons
While medication and DBS surgery are the most effective treatments for PD, individuals often choose to delay these treatments because of their adverse side effects. Until a therapy is developed that can halt the progression of PD, there is a significant need for strategies that provide symptom relief without causing negative side effects.
Diet, Exercise, and Stress Reduction
Findings from several studies suggest that exercise has the potential to provide relief from certain PD symptoms. Anecdotally, people with Parkinsons disease who exercise typically do better. However, many questions remain. Among them is whether exercise provides a conditioning effect by strengthening muscles and improving flexibility or whether it has a direct effect on the brain.
In an NINDS-funded trial comparing the benefits of tai chi, resistance training, and stretching, tai chi was found to reduce balance impairments in people with mild-to-moderate PD. People in the tai chi group also experienced significantly fewer falls and greater improvements in their functional capacity.
Technologies that Improve Quality of Life
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What Are The Risk Factors Of Parkinsons
The actual cause of the above-mentioned neurodegeneration that leads to Parkinsons disease remains largely unknown. However, researchers have come up with theories that point to environmental toxins, oxidative damage, rapid ageing and genetics as contributing factors. The risk is higher for those who have close relatives with Parkinsons disease. In 2020, The Parkinsons Foundation research identified extremely rare genetic mutations linked to Parkinsons disease based on genetic test results among their 291 participants.
Ageing is one of the main risk factors for Parkinsons disease and obviously, there is nothing that we can do to slow down or stop this natural process. The risk of Parkinsons disease increases with age and is most common in individuals above the age of 60. Even though there are possibilities for young-onset Parkinsons disease that strike early , the percentage is low and the progression of the disease is much slower.
Men are affected about two times more often than women. Researchers have yet to find a conclusive explanation as to why there is a difference in the rate of Parkinsons disease between men and women. Various studies have been conducted to look into the possibility of the protective effect of estrogen in women the higher rate of minor head trauma and exposure to occupational toxins in men and genetic susceptibility genes on the sex chromosomes.
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Tips And Lifestyle Changes To Improve Off Time In Parkinsons
- People who take levodopa for Parkinsons disease may notice that the medications effectiveness can wear off, causing motor symptoms.
- You can manage these off periods using a combination of lifestyle changes, and by talking to your doctor about whether you should adjust your medication dosage and schedule.
Most people who begin levodopa treatment for Parkinsons disease can get several years of near-complete relief from symptoms with few side effects. After several years on levodopa, however, its common for symptoms to become harder to manage and more medication to become necessary.
As levodopa loses its effectiveness and dopamine levels rise and fall, some people living with Parkinsons notice off times when medication isnt working, as well as motor fluctuations changes in their ability to move. In some people, motor fluctuations are accompanied by dyskinesia, a complication of dopamine agonist therapy that causes involuntary and abnormal movements such as twisting, writhing, and jerking.
Switch To A New Drug Delivery Method
Another way to keep your dopamine levels steady is to try a long-acting form of levodopa that delivers a steady dose of the medicine. These include:
- A patch that you wear on your skin
- A capsule that slowly releases the drug into your body over several hours
Or you could take levodopa gel, which goes straight into your intestine through a needle and a tube called duopa. It works faster than a pill because your stomach doesn’t have to break down the medicine first.
A new powder form of levodopa that you breathe into your lungs and helps relieve motor fluctuations faster than a pill has also been approved.
How A Parkinsons Spoon Can Make Eating And Drinking Easier
Parkinsons disease symptoms like tremor, joint stiffness, or difficulty swallowing may make eating certain foods challenging. Try consulting an occupational therapist, who can recommend assistive devices that will make eating and drinking easier, says Subramanian.
One option: Use a Parkinsons spoon. This popular device is designed to make mealtime easier for people with Parkinsons disease. There are different products available, but all of them are eating utensils that have been equipped with a special design or technology that helps stabilize them as you eat.
Foods To Avoid In A Parkinsons Disease Diet
If your goal is to maintain overall health with Parkinsons disease and it should be you should avoid or reduce your intake of some of the same potentially harmful foods as people without the condition.
For example, a diet with lots of sugar can add too many calories and provide your body with too few nutrients. It can also contribute to tooth decay and increase your risk of diabetes.
In addition, foods high in salt and sodium content can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. According to the American Heart Association, some of the saltiest foods in typical diets include:
- Breads and rolls
- Cold cuts and cured meats
- Burritos and tacos
Most of our patients have problems with low blood pressure, due to issues with autonomic nervous system function in Parkinsons disease, Subramanian adds. So in some cases, we recommend a little extra salt in the diet, or even energy drinks, to boost blood pressure.
Either way, you should check with your doctor about taking appropriate dietary steps to manage blood pressure along with Parkinsons disease.
Also limit foods high in calories and fat, particularly saturated and trans fat, which can increase your risk of heart problems as well as certain types of cancer and make it more difficult for you maintain a healthy weight.
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Ensure You’re Getting Enough Sleep
Like a healthy diet, a regular sleep schedule is a crucial part of your overall well-being. Your symptoms may make sleeping a challenge. People with Parkinson’s can experience insomnia, sleep apnea and discomfort that keeps them awake. Try to set regular waking and sleep hours. Exercise during the day may also help you get enough rest at night. If necessary, talk to your doctor about safe sleep aids.
Is Green Tea Good For Parkinsons
Interestingly, some studies have observed that green tea, which is also high in antioxidants, helps slow the progression of Parkinsons disease and other neurodegenerative disorders, according to a review published in March 2016 in the journal CNS Neurological Disorders-Drug Targets. However, how the drink works to prevent these conditions and what constitutes the safest and most effective dose of green tea hasnt been determined.
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The Best Care For Parkinsons Patients
A Parkinsons disease diagnosis is life-changing, but that doesnt mean you have to stop enjoying life. You will need to make significant changes, and some days will be better than others. However, you can manage your symptoms with lifestyle adjustments and medication. Post Acute Medical has a rehabilitation program designed specifically for Parkinsons patients. Our comprehensive, holistic approach offers relief for all your symptoms. We also provide support, education and therapy for the loved ones who will help with your care plan. Take some time to look at our Parkinsons disease resources. Our compassionate team has specialized training to improve your understanding of how to manage Parkinsons disease and move forward with your life.