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  • Writer's pictureAbigail Erwin

Managing Parkinson’s Disease Through Diet and Nutrition

Updated: Nov 2, 2020

Medications are commonly used to help treat Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and the different symptoms experienced from the disease, but there are many alternative, natural ways to help manage a variety of symptoms, such as nausea and low blood pressure, while managing overall health through nutrition.


For one’s food consumption to be an effective way to treat PD symptoms (with or without the addition of medication) the first step is to have a healthy diet that assists in keeping the entire body healthy. This means a constant balance and variety of food must be eaten. Whole grain foods, fruits, vegetables, and protein sources must be included to ensure sufficient vitamins, minerals, iron, fibre, and energy levels. Additionally, sugar intake should be limited. Substitutes for high sugar foods can be made for a natural sugar source like an apple or some berries. Antioxidants are suggested which provide symptom relief for a variety of symptoms due to their ability to reduce oxidative stress (that can cause fatigue, muscle, and joint pain, etc.). Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance of free radicals (molecules that are unstable due to an uneven number of electrons) and antioxidants. This can be solved by consuming foods with antioxidants such as, blueberries, tree nuts, cranberries, tomatoes, and kale (Watson, 2018).


When experiencing nausea, it is how and when eating food that is key. Consumption of hot and cold food should not be mixed and eating small meals throughout the day is recommended (Wyndham, 2018). Additionally, keeping the head elevated while chewing thoroughly will assist as well. When experiencing stomach upset, wait until it passes to eat and avoid acidic drinks and greasy food, but if you do not or can not wait, try cold or room temperature food to minimize the smell.


To solve constipation, it is recommended to consume more fibre and water to become regular or maintain regularity. Some good high fibre foods would be fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The amount of water that is suggested to be ingested per day is 6 to 8, 8-ounce glasses of water (The Michael J. Fox Foundation).

Low and high blood pressure relates to the amount of sodium ingested but in opposing amounts. Increasing the amount of sodium consumed is the best way to assist low blood pressure through diet. Increasing fluids, such as water, also helps, but this does not include caffeine or alcohol as they lower blood pressure and dehydrate the body. To raise blood pressure, decreasing the amount of sodium consumed is the best way to assist high blood pressure through diet. Maintaining hydration is still important, and limiting caffeine and alcohol ingestion is advised, as these can also raise blood pressure.


Returning to the way food is consumed, when swallowing issues arise, soft or softening food can help as well as slow, small bites, and food that will stimulate someone to swallow the food such as, sour or seasoned foods. Tucking your chin to your chest when swallowing is also suggested (The Michael J. Fox Foundation).

In order to alleviate muscle cramping/tension, being hydrated is key. It is also said the following can sometimes assist with muscle cramping: eating yellow mustard, turmeric, tonic water, salt, vinegar, and/or pickle juice.


Other tips and tricks are drinking some teas and bone broth can help the immune system and having lots of water while taking any medication can assist in breaking down the medication. Hydration is very important but an alternative to water to avoid high usage of the bathroom are high water content foods such as cucumbers, celery, and watermelon.


Nutrition is a very important tool for keeping healthy and finding natural ways to treat or assist common PD symptoms. Some trial and error is required to see what works best for each individual, but these natural tips and tricks can become very effective and allow for personalization to ones’ diet and preferred foods.


References

Watson, K. (2018). Diet and Parkinson’s. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/parkinsons-and-diet#foods-to-eat


Wyndham, L. (2018). What To Eat And What To Avoid When Managing Parkinson’s Disease. ParkinsonsDisease.net. https://parkinsonsdisease.net/stories/what-to-eat-and-what-to-avoid-when-managing-parkinsons-disease/


The Michael J. Fox Foundation. (n.d.). Diet and Nutrition. The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. https://www.michaeljfox.org/news/diet-nutrition



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