I recently attended a conference on Parkinson’s Disease, where diet and nutrition were a hot topic. Can food be used to manage the progression of Parkinson’s or even prevent the disease? The answer seems to be a resounding YES!
I asked one of our nutritionists, Daniella Dayoub, if she could help explain the role that nutrition plays in this debilitating disease. She has done much research and written an article about this very topic. Below are some of the highlights from her research:
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s is a progressive disease of the nervous system that chiefly affects middle-aged and elderly people. Symptoms include:
- muscular rigidity slow imprecise movement
- speech changes
- writing changes
Nerve cells use a brain chemical called dopamine to help control muscle movement. Parkinson’s disease occurs when the nerve cells in the brain that make dopamine are slowly destroyed. Without dopamine, the nerve cells in that part of the brain cannot properly send messages. This leads to the loss of muscle function.
What can diet and nutrition do to increase receptors of dopamine?
Dopamine is derived from the amino acid tyrosine. Complete protein sources of amino acids have plenty of tyrosine. Eat plenty of tyrosine rich foods such as:
Organic, sustainably raised, and natural food sources will help to avoid inflammation from pesticides, antibiotics, and other environmental inflammatory contributors.
Drink Green Tea: The polyphenols in green tea up-regulate dopamine receptors.
Get plenty of vitamin D:
There appears to be a strong correlation between low vitamin D levels and the prevalence of Parkinson’s. In fact, deficiency in vitamin D is a risk factor for later onset of the disease.
Hydration and Fiber:
Stay well hydrated:
The elderly, and especially those with Parkinson’s, are more prone to dehydration. This is because the signs and symptoms of thirst are more easily ignored, especially if the patient is depressed (a potential state for some Parkinson’s patients).
Hydration is also a contributing factor in constipation which is often a side-effect of medications used to treat Parkinson’s. Constipation is not only uncomfortable for the patient but can be a toxic state. Drinking 50-oz. (or 1/2 one’s body weight) a day is the recommended amount to stay sufficiently hydrated.
Consume plenty of fiber: at least 25 grams of fiber to ensure proper elimination of toxins due to constipation.
Reduce Calorie Consumption:
Mild caloric restriction can increase dopamine receptor sensitivity. Simply skipping a meal here and there or aiming for true intermittent fasting protocols can give the mild caloric restriction that we are aiming for. Caloric restriction also allows the cells to undergo something called “autophagy.” Autophagy is the chance for cells to clear out metabolic waste in the mitochondria which can lead to inflammation and a host of disease states.
Daniella provides much “food for thought” in her article. I encourage you to read it in it’s entirety click here.
After attending the conference on Parkinson’s, and following up with Daniella, I’m hopeful that sustaining optimal wellness and preventing disease through diet and good nutrition will become the standard for quality healthcare.
~ Karl Power, CEO
* this post is not a substitute for the professional judgment of health care professionals in diagnosing and treating patients.