Best Diet For Parkinson’s Disease: Foods To Eat And Avoid

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Published on: 15-May-2024

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Anvesha Chowdhury

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Best Diet For Parkinson’s Disease: Foods To Eat And Avoid

Best Diet For Parkinson’s Disease: Foods To Eat And Avoid

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Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurological condition that can significantly impact a person's quality of life. While there's currently no cure, research suggests that dietary modifications can play a vital role in managing symptoms and promoting overall well-being. This blog dives into the world of diet for Parkinson's disease. 

Here, you will understand the scientific evidence behind the connection between specific foods to eat with Parkinson's disease and symptom management. This includes examining the potential benefits of dopamine foods for Parkinson's disease and focusing on dietary components that may influence dopamine levels in the brain. 

We'll also delve into foods to avoid with Parkinson's disease, identifying what to not include in the diet plan. By understanding the connection between diet and nutrition for Parkinson's disease, you can make informed dietary choices to manage the symptoms associated with the disease. Let's get into the topic now. 

Table Of Contents 

1. What Is Parkinson’s Disease? 

2. Diet And Nutrition For Parkinson's Disease  

3. What Foods To Eat With Parkinson's Disease? 

4. List Of Foods To Avoid With Parkinson's Disease 

5. Dietitian’s Recommendation 

6. The Final Say 

7. FAQs 

8. References 

What Is Parkinson’s Disease? 

Parkinson's disease is a brain condition that affects movement and coordination. It develops slowly over time, often starting with a slight tremor in one hand. While the exact cause remains under investigation, scientists believe it's linked to the breakdown and malfunction of specific nerve cells, or neurons, in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra. 

These neurons are responsible for producing a vital chemical messenger called dopamine. Dopamine acts like a signal between brain cells, coordinating smooth and controlled movements. In Parkinson's disease, the substantia nigra neurons that produce dopamine gradually deteriorate and die. As a result, dopamine levels in the brain decline, leading to the characteristic movement difficulties associated with the disease. 

The progression of Parkinson's disease is progressive, meaning it gets worse over time. The loss of dopamine neurons happens gradually, and symptoms typically appear when a significant portion of these cells are no longer functioning. 

Here's a breakdown of how the lack of dopamine affects movement: 

  • Tremor: Dopamine helps regulate muscle activity. When dopamine levels are low, muscles can become hyperactive, leading to the characteristic tremors or shaking often seen in Parkinson's patients. 

  • Rigidity: Dopamine also plays a role in muscle stiffness. With reduced dopamine, muscles can become rigid, making movements slow and jerky. 

  • Bradykinesia: This refers to slowness of movement, another hallmark symptom of Parkinson's disease. Without adequate dopamine signalling, initiating and completing movements becomes more challenging. 

Ninety genetic risk variations together account for 16–36% of the heritable risk of non-monogenic Parkinson's disease, while 3–5% of Parkinson's disease in most groups is explained by genetic reasons connected to known Parkinson's disease genes or monogenic Parkinson's disease. Constipation, not smoking, and having a family with Parkinson's disease or tremor are other causative correlations, each of which at least doubles the chance of Parkinson's disease. 

Diet And Nutrition For Parkinson's Disease 

Diet for Parkinson's disease is crucial in dealing with it. Here are 2 sample diet plans for you to include in your diet for Parkinson's disease: 

Sample Diet Plan 1: Diet For Parkinson’s Disease 

Early morning 

1 glass of warm Ajwain water   

Breakfast 

Ragi dosa 2 small + 1 tsp Coconut chutney + 1 glass Milk (toned) 

Mid meal 

1/2 bowl of Roasted Sweet Potato salad 

Lunch 

2 Roti + 1 small bowl of Pumpkin Dal + 1/2 bowl Capsicum sabji + 1 glass of Buttermilk 

Evening snack 

1 glass Muskmelon Juice with pulp 

Dinner 

1/2 bowl Parboiled Rice + 1 bowl Ridge Gourd Sabji + 1 glass Buttermilk (optional) 

Sample Diet Plan 2: Diet For Parkinson’s Disease 

Early morning 

1 glass of warm Ajwain water   

Breakfast 

Idly2 pcs + 1 small bowl Sambhar + 1 small bowl of Green Chutney + 1/2 cup of Tea 

Mid Meal 

Handful of Pomegranate seeds 

Lunch 

1 large Bajra Roti + 1/2 bowl of Green peas + 1 bowl Lauki dal and Capsicum sabji + 1 glass of Buttermilk 

Evening snack 

1 cup of Green tea with 1 small bowl of Boiled sprouts   

Dinner 

2 Multigrain Roti (bajra, oats, ragi) + 1 bowl Snake Gourd sabji  

What Are The Foods To Eat With Parkinson's Disease? 

Here is a list of foods that should be a part of the diet for Parkinson's disease: 

1. Fruits And Vegetables 

Fruits and vegetables are a nutrient source that provides vitamins, minerals, fibre, and antioxidants. They are essential in supporting overall cardiovascular, immune, and gut health. For people with Parkinson's disease, antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and flavonoids found in fruits and vegetables can help minimise oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain, resulting in slowing neurodegeneration. In addition, the fibre content of fruits and vegetables supports intestinal health, controls blood sugar, and supports the feeling of satiety. This is important for weight control and preventing constipation, a side effect of Parkinson's disease.  

2. Fatty Fish 

Fish high in oil, such as salmon, mackerel, trout, and sardines, are vital sources of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA and EPA (docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid). Research has demonstrated that these essential oils are anti-inflammatory and promote cognitive and mental well-being. Oily fish can help lower brain inflammation, minimise oxidative damage, and potentially improve motor function and severe physical symptoms in persons with Parkinson's disease. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids may improve the way that some Parkinson's disease treatments work to control symptoms.   

3. Whole Grains 

Whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, oats, barley, and whole wheat bread are rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Unlike refined grains with rich bran and germ removed, entire grains retain these essential properties, providing sustained energy, supporting digestion, and reducing the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The fibre in whole grains increases feelings of fullness, controls blood sugar, and supports gut health. This is important for Parkinson’s patients who have stomach problems.  

4. Legumes And Beans 

Beans and legumes, including beans, lentils, chickpeas, and peas, are nutrient-dense sources of plant protein that contain fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It increases the feeling of fullness, balances blood sugar, and supports intestinal health. Additionally, beans and legumes are low in fat and cholesterol, making them heart-healthy protein alternatives to animal products. Including beans and legumes in the diet for people with Parkinson's disease may provide essential nutrients for overall health and help maintain muscle mass and strength, which are necessary for mobility and physical activity.  

5. Nuts And Seeds 

Nuts and seeds such as walnuts, almonds, flaxseeds, chia seeds and pumpkin seeds are nutritious foods that contain healthy fats, protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are neuroprotective, support heart health, and help lower inflammation throughout the body, including the brain. Adding nuts and seeds to the diet for people with Parkinson's may help improve cognitive function, minimise the risk of heart disease, and provide essential nutrients for overall health.  

6. Healthy Fats 

For the generation of hormones, the integrity of cell membranes, and the health of the brain, healthy fatsmonounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats—found in nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, and oily fish are important. These fats offer anti-inflammatory qualities, boost cognitive function, and provide you energy. Including healthy fats in a person's diet can help reduce brain inflammation, improve medicine absorption, and enhance thinking and cognition in those with Parkinson's disease.  

7. Herbs And Spices 

Herbs and spices that are significantly used in an Indian household like turmeric, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, and rosemary are delicious meal additions rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, and phytonutrients. They have been used in traditional medicine for centuries for their health benefits, including boosting immunity, aiding digestion, and improving cognition. For people with Parkinson's disease, adding herbs and spices to the diet may help reduce pain, support digestion, and provide neuroprotection against oxidative stress and neurodegeneration.  

8. Low-fat Dairy And Alternatives 

Low-fat foods such as yoghurt, milk, cheese, and other dairy products such as soy milk, almond milk, and oat milk are excellent calcium, vitamin D, and protein sources. Calcium and vitamin D are advised for healthy bones and muscles, while protein is vital for muscle repair and growth. Maintaining healthy bones and muscles is necessary for mobility and overall quality of life in people with Parkinson's. Choosing low-fat or other dairy products can help reduce your intake of heart-healthy saturated fat.  

9. Lean Protein Sources 

Lean protein sources such as chicken, fish, tofu, tempeh, and eggs provide essential amino acids for muscle repair, growth, and maintenance. Protein also supports the immune system, hormone production, and enzyme activity. For people with Parkinson's disease, maintaining muscle mass and strength is a priority, which can be obtained by taking adequate protein; this can help improve mobility and physical function. Choosing foods that have high protein content can help minimise saturated fat intake and improve heart health.   

10. Hydrating Foods 

Hydrating foods like cucumbers, tomatoes, oranges, and soups are rich in water and help you stay hydrated and keep the body functioning. Adequate hydration is essential for digestion, absorption of nutrients, regulation of temperature, and elimination of toxins. For people with Parkinson's disease, staying hydrated is especially important for managing symptoms such as constipation, urination, and side effects. Making hydrating foods a part of your diet can help meet hydration needs and improve overall health and well-being.  

11. Green Tea 

Green tea contains polyphenols, catechins, and antioxidants that may provide neuroprotective effects, including reducing oxidative stress, inflammation, and neurodegeneration. Green tea, when taken regularly is associated with cognitive functions, mood regulation, and cardiovascular health. For people with Parkinson's disease, drinking green tea may help improve brain health, strengthen antioxidant defences, and slow disease progression. However, it is essential to drink green tea in moderation and consult a doctor because consuming too much caffeine can cause some Parkinson's symptoms. 

List Of Foods To Avoid With Parkinson's Disease 

List Of Foods To Avoid With Parkinson's Disease

Here is a list of foods that must not be a part of the diet for Parkinson's disease: 

1. Excessive Sugar And Refined Carbohydrates 

Excessive use of sugar and refined carbs can result in blood sugar fluctuations, which can induce symptoms such as lethargy and mood swings. These alterations may have an impact on your energy levels and set off a vicious cycle of overeating and cravings that may result in weight gain and metabolic issues.  

Long-term consumption of refined carbohydrates and sugary meals has also been linked to insulin resistance, inflammation, and a greater chance of developing chronic illness, including diabetes and heart disease, which are more common in persons with Parkinson's disease.   

2. High-Sodium Foods 

Foods rich in sodium can cause fluid retention and increase blood pressure, causing symptoms such as constipation, urination problems, and orthostatic hypotension (low blood pressure when standing). Consuming excess sodium can lead to fluid and electrolyte deficiencies, affecting medication use and overall health. People with Parkinson's disease are already at high risk of heart disease, so reducing sodium intake may help reduce this risk and improve heart health.     

3. Processed Foods And Additives 

Processed foods often contain preservatives, additives, and artificial sweeteners that can cause side effects or worsen gastrointestinal symptoms in people with worms. Additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) and food colouring have been linked to headaches, nausea, and digestive problems in some people. Additionally, processed foods tend to be lower in calories and higher in unhealthy fats, sugars, and sodium; This makes them less beneficial for overall health. Choosing the right, minimally processed foods can help minimise exposure to harmful substances and provide essential nutrients that support brain health and appearance pain. 

4. Foods High In Saturated Fat 

Saturated fat is high in animal products such as red meat, saturated fat, and processed meat, and high consumption is associated with inflammation, insulin resistance, and heart disease. People with Parkinson's disease are at high risk for heart problems, so limiting saturated fat intake may help reduce this risk and improve heart health. Additionally, some studies show that a high-fat diet may cause neuroinflammation and oxidative stress in the brain, which can lead to worsening Parkinson's symptoms and disease.   

5. Alcohol And Caffeine 

Alcohol and caffeine consumption may have adverse effects on people with Parkinson's disease, particularly in terms of drug interactions and symptom management. Although moderate drinking increases immunity and provides positive social benefits, excessive drinking can impair balance, coordination and functioning, disrupting work as well as risks of falls and accidents.  

Coffee, tea, and some soft drinks have high caffeine components, which can cause insomnia, anxiety, and tremors in some people with Parkinson's disease. Both alcohol and caffeine can interact with some medications used to treat Parkinson's symptoms, possibly causing more side effects or affecting the medication's effectiveness.   

6. Aspartame And Artificial Sweeteners 

Aspartame and other sweeteners are often used as sugar substitutes in diet sodas, sugar-free snacks, and low-sugar products. While regulators confirm aspartame is safe for consumption, aspartame may cause symptoms in people with Parkinson's disease. This exact mechanism is not fully understood but is believed to be related to dopamine receptors in the brain.  

Aspartame and artificial sweeteners are also controversial due to concerns about long-term health effects, including the risk of cancer and neurological disease. Although studies are mixed, some people may limit or avoid sugar intake to see if it affects their symptoms.  

7. Tyramine-Rich Foods 

Tyramine is a compound that occurs in certain foods and beverages, especially those that have been aged, fermented, or pickled. For some people, tyramine-rich foods may interact with some medications used to treat Parkinson's disease, especially monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), which increase the risk of side effects. 

 Foods containing tyramine include aged cheese, cured meats, fermented soy products (such as soy sauce and miso), sugary foods, and some alcoholic beverages (such as red wine and beer). Although dietary restrictions on tyramine-containing foods are less common today due to the advent of new Parkinson's disease medications with fewer dietary restrictions, people taking MAOIs should exercise caution and follow their doctor's advice regarding tyramine-containing foods.  

Dietitian’s Recommendation 

Whole foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish are rich in antioxidants, fibre, and healthy fats that benefit Parkinson's disease. Eat less sugar, saturated fats, artificial additives, and processed foods. Try dietary adjustments and seek medical advice to reduce symptoms and improve general health. Stay hydrated. 

Dt. Akshata Gandevikar 

The Final Say 

While Parkinson's disease presents unique challenges, the use of nutritional supplements tailored to the individual's needs can impact symptom management and overall health. By paying attention to foods rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and a Mediterranean diet, people with Parkinson's disease can help support the brain, make medication effective, and improve their quality of life. Be sure to consult a doctor for personalised guidance and continue to explore the latest research on nutrition and Parkinson's disease for support and optimisation. 

FAQs 

1. What are the dopamine foods for Parkinson's disease?  

Dopamine foods to include in the diet for Parkinson’s disease are: 

  • Watermelons  

  • Bananas  

  • Fermented foods  

  • Green tea  

2. Can Parkinson's disease be cured?  

No, Parkinson's disease cannot be cured. However, it can be managed by following a proper diet for Parkinson's disease along with regular exercise.  

3. Which age group hits Parkinson's disease the most?  

People aged between 50-60 years are the groups that can hit Parkinson's disease. 

References 

 

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