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Recommended diet for Parkinson’s patients

Food is at the base of better health and quality of life, both in the prevention of diseases and for those people who already suffer from a disorder. In the subject at hand, it is important to note that there is no recommended diet for patients with Parkinson’s, but an adequate regimen can help improve many of the symptoms.

The Parkinson ‘s disease is a progressive neurological condition. It develops when brain cells stop working properly and the inability to produce dopamine appears. As a consequence, some specific symptoms such as tremors, slow movements and muscle stiffness are present.

It is the second most prevalent health problem among the elderly population, behind Alzheimer’s. Today it affects about 6 million people around the world. Genetics and environmental factors play a prominent role in its origin . Hence the importance of nutrition and diet for patients with Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s disease and diet

When a person is affected by this disorder, making changes in eating routines can improve symptoms and quality of life. Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet promotes a better state of health and well-being, both in these cases and in the general population.

In this specific pathology, epidemiological studies have shown that the consumption of antioxidant foods rich in omega 3 can have a protective effect. Also some drinks like tea or coffee.

Instead, it is better to avoid others that have been linked to a worse development of the disease, such as dairy or saturated fat. In the next section we specify it in more detail.

Elderly man with Parkinson's having dinner.
There is no particular diet for Parkinson’s, but there are general recommendations.

How is the recommended diet for Parkinson’s patients?

Among the characteristics of a healthy diet there are some foods that need to be promoted and others that are better to avoid or reduce their consumption. Both the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and the American Parkinson Disease Association establish that a good dietary model in these cases is the Mediterranean diet.

More research is needed to establish the specific relationship with the reduction in the incidence of Parkinson’s. However, this pattern is related to better health in general and the brain in particular. These are their basic lines and the most recommended foods.

Control the total level and quality of lipids

Especially those fats of poorer quality or more harmful, such as hydrogenated ones, should be avoided Likewise, moderate the consumption of saturated ones.

On the other hand, the omega 3 fatty acids that are provided mainly by oily fish, flax and walnuts can have a protective effect on brain function . Virgin olive oil is the priority fat for both cooking and dressing.

Boost complex carbohydrates

This objective is achieved with diets rich in whole grains, legumes, potatoes or moniatos. These foods provide vitamins and minerals and reduce the need to snack between meals. The more present they are, the lower the intake of processed foods or pastries, which are not recommended.

Rich in fresh fruits and vegetables

These are foods that must be promoted in a particular way because they are rich in antioxidants and fiber. It has been proven that its positive effect can be associated with a prevention of cognitive deterioration and the slowing down of the onset of neurodegenerative diseases.

Quality proteins

A serving of protein at each meal is necessary to keep the muscles in good condition, which can be affected by reduced mobility. The sources of choice will be fish ( especially blue ) that provides the healthy omega 3 fatty acids, eggs and lean meat. Legumes are also of special importance, which can be taken as a substitute for red meat.

Avoid dairy

As already mentioned, dairy can be one of the foods to avoid. Although experts recommend further analysis to determine the reason for the relationship, there is an association between milk consumption and the risk of Parkinson’s . This is observed in particular for skimmed or low-fat milk.

Diet and the side effects of the disease

There are some situations and manifestations that are common in many people with Parkinson’s disease. In these cases, the alimentary approach is the first step to solve it , with the implementation of some simple guidelines recommended again by the experts of the Michael J. Fox Foundation .

Constipation

It is necessary to ensure a sufficient intake of fiber in the diet with whole foods, fruits, vegetables and nuts on a daily basis . You also need to drink enough water. Hot liquids in the morning can promote bowel movements. 

Discover: 7 ways to increase your fiber intake to treat constipation

Dysphagia

It is a swallowing difficulty that is usually quite linked to this disease. It must be taken into account, as it can lead to problems of malnutrition, dehydration or even aspiration pneumonia .

As outlined in the ASPACE Confederation of Dysphagia Nutrition Guide, the following may help in these cases:

  • Eat small meals often. Have good posture and stay focused during this time.
  • Food must be homogeneous, avoid lumps and thorns. The ideal consistency is juicy and soft.
  • Avoid some textures that increase the risk of choking. Among them are slippery foods, those that give off water when eating or mixtures of liquids and solids.
  • It may be necessary to use thickeners for beverages.

Low blood pressure

To try to avoid hypotension, you can increase your fluid intake and turn to slightly salty foods, such as pickles, olives, or table salt. However, it is necessary that those who suffer from heart problems also consult their doctor.

Caffeine and alcohol should be avoided , as they carry a risk of dehydration that is not convenient. Eating often and small servings helps decrease sharp fluctuations in blood pressure.

Read more: Hypotension, how to raise the values ​​in a healthy way?

Example of weekly diet for Parkinson’s patients

This guideline that we propose is for one week and offers a global idea of ​​how to structure a healthy menu . However, it cannot be interpreted as a specific model for treating the disease. It is necessary to adapt it to the needs and characteristics of each person and consult with the doctor about possible interactions.

Day 1

  • Breakfast: whole wheat toast with avocado.
  • Food: broccoli with potato and omelette.
  • Dinner: cream of carrots and sardines with garlic and parsley.

Day 2

  • Breakfast: fruit with hazelnut cream and yogurt.
  • Food: young beans with braised carrot and lentils.
  • Dinner: vegetables sautéed with brown rice and chicken.

Day 3

  • Breakfast: whole wheat toast with tomato and anchovies.
  • Food: roast beef and baked hake with sweet potato.
  • Dinner: gazpacho and scrambled eggs with asparagus and peas.

Day 4

  • Breakfast: whole wheat toast with fresh cheese and applesauce.
  • Food: spinach with pine nuts and chickpeas.
  • Dinner: salad with corn and mackerel. Grilled turkey.

Day 5

  • Breakfast: rolled oats with walnuts and 1 yogurt.
  • Lunch: white bean salad and baked horse mackerel.
  • Dinner: roasted pumpkin with vinaigrette and tortilla with toast.

Day 6

  • Breakfast: fruit with hazelnut cream and yogurt.
  • Lunch: green salad and roast chicken with potatoes.
  • Dinner: cream of leeks and hummus .

Day 7

  • Breakfast: oatmeal flakes with nuts and fruit.
  • Food: macaroni with tomato sauce and grilled cuttlefish with mushrooms.
  • Dinner: vegetable stew and rabbit.
Hydration in Parkinson's.
Hydration accompanies the diet, to improve swallowing and avoid constipation.

For dessert you can choose fresh fruit or compote (without sugar) or whole natural yogurt. The same as in the middle of the morning and in the afternoon, when you can also eat a handful of nuts. Special advice must be applied in case of symptoms such as constipation, dysphagia or low blood pressure.

The best diet for patients with Parkinson’s is a healthy guideline

The Parkinson’s diet should consist mainly of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, oily fish, olive oil, legumes, and whole grains. It is necessary to accompany it with an important intake of water and take into account all the tips that are useful in the discomforts that may appear throughout the disease.

In addition, it is essential that the diet is accompanied by a healthy lifestyle and habits. It is advisable to avoid alcohol and tobacco and to do physical exercise . Always within the possibilities of each one and in contact with nature.

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