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.
Taking Care Of Business
The Parkinson’s Foundation has developed a thorough guide to getting your household and personal documents organized at www.parkinson.org
- Organize your medical histories
- Keep a journal of medications and dosages
- Organize your personal financial documents
- Insurance and long-term care plans
- Livings wills, durable power of attorney, advanced medical directives
Managing Medication Side Effects
- Drink lots of water to avoid dehydration-induced headaches and muscle tension.
- Drink green tea, bone broth, or ginger tea to boost your immune system.
- Drink alcohol or coffee or any other caffeinated beverages to avoid having sleep issues.
Knowing what to eat and what to avoid can help you manage the symptoms of Parkinsons disease. Follow these tips to relieve symptoms and have a better quality of life.
Consult your doctor to know what other foods you can consume to help you manage Parkinsons.
Engage with the community by asking a question, telling your story, or participating in a forum.
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When Should I Take My Parkinsons Medication
When you take your Parkinson’s 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 Parkinson’s 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.
Activities Of Daily Living
There are many things a person does every day without even thinking about it such as bathing, brushing teeth, walking, turning in bed, signing checks, cutting food. When a person is diagnosed with Parkinson’s, it can eventually make all of these things more difficult. The following tips are meant to be helpful and raise awareness of adjusting to some of the difficulties with PD.
- Remove throw rugs and low-lying obstacles from pathways inside and outside your home.
- Use a cane when necessary.
- Avoid using stepladders or stools to reach high objects.
- Stop walking or sit down if you feel dizzy.
- Install handrails, especially along stairways.
- Slow down when you feel yourself in a hurry.
- Before rising from your bed or bath, pause for a moment in a sitting position.
- Stretch every day, especially before exercising.
- Exercise daily to build stamina.
- Warm baths and regular massage will help relax tired muscles.
- When your hands or feet get cold, wear gloves or warm socks.
- Don’t overdo physical activities know your limits and stay within them.
Turning in bed
- Perform difficult tasks when you feel well and when your medication is working effectively.
- Relax. Sit down from time to time, relax your arms and shoulders, and take deep breaths.
- Get a regular massage.
- Ask your physical therapist or doctor to recommend a stretching and exercise program.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Get plenty of rest.
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Foods That Are Hard To Chew
Many people with Parkinsons have difficulty with chewing and swallowing foods. A person needs medical help if this is the case. A speech and language therapist may be able to help a person overcome this issue.
However, if a person is finding certain foods hard to chew and swallow, they may wish to avoid these foods.
Such foods include:
- dry, crumbly foods
- tough or chewy meats
If a person does wish to eat chewy meats, they could try using gravy or sauce to soften them and make eating easier.
They could also try chopping meat into smaller pieces or incorporating meat into casseroles, which can make it more tender.
Having a drink with a meal can also make chewing and swallowing easier.
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.
- Consult with an occupational therapist about assistive devices, including some mentioned above, to 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.
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Parkinsons And Weight Gain
Parkinsons medication does not tend to make people gain weight, but a small number of people may experience impulsive and compulsive behaviour. This is a side effect of some Parkinsons medication, particularly dopamine agonists and, in some cases, levodopa.
Impulsive behaviour is when a person cant resist the temptation to carry out certain activities. These are often activities that give an immediate reward or pleasure, such as gambling, hypersexuality and overeating.
So, someone may eat large amounts of food in a short period of time because they cant control their appetite, and as a result, they gain weight.
If you think youre experiencing this behaviour, speak to your GP, specialist or Parkinsons nurse.
We dont advise anyone to stop taking or to change their Parkinsons medication without the advice of their specialist or Parkinsons nurse.
Any changes have to be made slowly and gradually, and should always be carried out and reviewed by a specialist, because of the risk of side effects and withdrawal symptoms.
Someone experiencing impulsive or compulsive behaviour may not realise they have a problem. So it’s important that their carer is aware of these side effects.
Deep brain stimulation and weight gain
Some people with Parkinsons may put on weight quickly after having deep brain stimulation, a surgery sometimes used to treat the condition.
If you think youre experiencing this behaviour, speak to your GP, specialist or Parkinsons nurse.
Weight Maintenance And Unplanned Weight Loss
In addition to the measures above, try supplementing meals with extra fats such as cream, butter and oil, and additional snacks and drinks such as milkshakes. Dietitians can provide specific advice about this. In the long term, if swallowing difficulties make it too difficult to maintain adequate nutrition, tube feeding directly into the stomach may eventually be considered and can be carried out at home or in a care setting.
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 another 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.
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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
Which Nutrients Are Beneficial For Parkinsons
Many of the nutrients found in the staple foods of a Mediterranean diet are beneficial for Parkinsons. One type of nutrient in particular, called antioxidants, helps to reduce damage to cells in the body that are caused by free radicals. There is some evidence that suggests antioxidants can reduce the risk of Parkinsons and support a healthy brain and healthy brain functions. Plus antioxidants are important for overall health and preventing other chronic illnesses. For these reasons, a diet high in foods containing antioxidants is essential for people with Parkinsons.
Antioxidants can be found in a variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices and teas. Antioxidants include vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and flavonoids . Good sources of these antioxidants include:
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What About Other Drinks
Parkinsons patients should avoid drinking sugar-sweetened beverages. These products can negatively affect disease symptoms. Especially, diet soda could be very toxic.
Moderate consumption of caffeine and alcohol shouldnt cause any harm but their high amount may possibly actuate adverse effects in patients. Few clinical trials have reported that daily consumption of coffee may improve some of Parkinsons symptoms. Therefore, researchers often encourage the use of moderate amounts of coffee in Parkinsons disease.
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.
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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 sources of iron:
- certain fortified foods
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.
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How About Using Supplements In Parkinsons Disease
Some patients prefer using food supplements. Nutrition supplements like coenzyme Q10, fish oil, and vitamin D have been linked to reducing disease progression and some studies suggest that taking these supplements may benefit the patients. However, research in this direction is still limited and we cant advise you to take any supplements at this stage. We recommend you discuss it with your healthcare provider first before considering any supplements.
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.
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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.
In Summary Reduce Your Stress
The most important thing we can do for our long-term health, both physical and cognitive, is to reduce the stress in our bodies. All stress physical, emotional and chemical causes inflammation and long-term damage throughout the body.
Whether youre seeking Parkinsons prevention techniques or ways to alleviate symptoms, any of the above dietary and lifestyle practices can have long-term health benefits. Drinking green tea, eating organic, local vegetables, and regular aerobic exercise all significantly reduce the long-term cumulative damage done by stress.
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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.
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.
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Parkinsons disease is a condition that causes the brain to become progressively more damaged over time, said the NHS. You could lower your risk of the neurodegenerative condition’s symptoms by avoiding certain fruits, it’s been revealed.