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PARKINSON’S DISEASE

FOODS THAT HEAL

  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Whole grain cereals and breads
  • Soft or pureed foods

    FOODS TO LIMIT

  • High-protein foods, if taking medications such as levodopa

    WHO’S AFFECTED

  • About 1
    2 million North Americans
  • Those with head injuries
    Parkinson’s disease is a chronic and progressive nerve disorder that causes uncontrollable shaking or trembling (tremors), a fixed staring expression, muscle rigidity, stooped posture, and an abnormal gait
    The disease varies from one person to another; some people develop speech problems and difficulty swallowing, while others suffer progressive dementia
    Parkinson’s affects men and women equally and generally develops after the age of 50

    Nutrition Connection

    Although there are no nutritional treatments for Parkinson’s disease, diet helps to increase the effectiveness of treatment with levodopa, which is a medication patients often take to control the tremors and muscle spasms, and manage such problems as constipation and difficulty in chewing and swallowing
    Here’s how: Make treatments more effective
    To be its most effective, some physicians advise taking levodopa 20 to 30 minutes before meals, but if this provokes nausea, it can be taken with a carbohydrate snack, such as crackers or bread
    Protein delays the absorption of levodopa, so avoid high-protein diets while on the medication
    Some doctors suggest eating the day’s protein in the evening, when it’s less likely to create problems
    Control other symptoms
    Constipation can be minimized by consuming ample fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain cereals and breads, and other high-fiber foods, as well as drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water or other fluids daily
    Put easy-to-chew foods on the menu
    Those with advanced Parkinson’s often have trouble chewing and swallowing food, because the tongue and facial muscles are affected
    Meals should emphasize foods that are easy to chew and swallow
    These include cooked cereals or well-moistened dry cereals, poached or scrambled eggs, soups, mashed potatoes, rice, soft-cooked pasta, tender chicken or turkey, well-cooked boneless fish, pureed or mashed vegetables and fruits, custard, yogurt, and juices
    If eating is tiring, try smaller but more frequent meals
    Consider vitamin K
    Some initial research has shown that vitamin K can improve cellular energy production and possibly ward off the Parkinson’s symptom of diminished energy distribution among brain cells
    Sources of vitamin K include green vegetables, such as broccoli and spinach

    Beyond the Diet

    There is no cure for Parkinson’s, but various medications, especially levodopa, can reduce symptoms and slow the progression
    Here are some other guidelines for easing the symptoms: Make time for fitness
    Exercise promotes healthy bowel function and is advised for anyone with Parkinson’s disease, because it preserves muscle tone and strength
    Ease digestion
    Sit up straight and tilt your head slightly forward when swallowing
    Take small bites, chew thoroughly, and swallow everything before taking another bite
    Sip a liquid between bites to help wash food down