Research shows that targeted dietary changes can help slow and manage Parkinson’s disease. While there is no one Parkinson disease specific diet, adopting a nutritious diet that focuses on whole, unprocessed foods is beneficial.
Board-certified neurologist Timothy Ownbey, DO, and the team at Neurology Specialists of Albuquerque, strive to provide exceptional neurological care to patients in and around the Albuquerque area. Dr. Ownbey cares for patients with a full range of neurological conditions, including Parkinson’s disease.
Along with medications, there are some dietary modifications patients can make to manage Parkinson’s and improve their quality of life.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder. Glutamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in motor control and learning. Evidence supports making dietary changes to lower your caloric intake. Doing so may lead to an increase in glutamate in people in the early stages of the disease. This helps to reverse the early changes in the brain that contribute to Parkinson’s development.
A healthy, whole food diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, not only supplies the body with an abundance of vital nutrients, but it also promotes a healthy microbiome that may help combat Parkinson’s disease.
Reduced production of certain beneficial gut bacteria and an increase in certain harmful gut bacteria may contribute to or exacerbate Parkinson’s disease.
When it comes to diet, some of the most important steps you can take are to reduce sodium intake, limit added sugar intake, and cut your intake of saturated fat.
Aim to get the bulk of your diet from whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats.
Phytochemicals are especially vital as they have strong antioxidant activity and help reduce inflammation. These are compounds that are naturally present in fruits, vegetables, and some spices. Berries are especially rich in phytochemicals.
Constipation is a common symptom in patients with Parkinson's disease, which slows down the digestive system. Constipation can be annoying at best, but it can also harm your large intestine.
A diet high in fiber, including fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, veggies, legumes, and whole-grain breads, helps to keep things moving and keep your stool soft, improving symptoms of constipation.
What’s more, what you eat impacts how well your medications work. If you take certain medications, making some dietary changes can help reduce complications and help your medications work better.
Levodopa is a common medication used to treat Parkinson’s disease by replacing missing dopamine. It’s absorbed in the same part of the intestines as dietary protein. Taking levodopa with protein-rich foods may result in reduced absorption and cause the medication to wear off early.
Consider taking levodopa between meals. For instance, take your medication 30 to 60 minutes before or after eating. Pair it with a low-protein snack if taking medicine on an empty stomach causes digestive symptoms.
Save larger protein intake for dinner and eat more veggies and carbohydrates throughout the day. This type of dietary modification is known as protein redistribution.
In addition to dietary changes, exercise is beneficial for managing Parkinson’s disease. Movement can slow the progression of Parkinson’s, particularly exercises that promote balance and movements that call for synchronization of both sides of the body.
Regular cardiovascular exercise can mitigate Parkinson's disease symptoms that have an impact on physical capacity, including gait impairment, issues with balance and strength, grip strength, and motor coordination.
Structured exercise keeps patients active and healthy. Maintaining daily routines, such as doing the dishes, folding clothes, yard work, shopping, or anything else that keeps you moving can help delay the deterioration of motor symptoms.
There are many ways to improve your life with Parkinson’s. Dr. Ownbey helps patients with Parkinson’s enhance their quality of life and manage their symptoms.