What foods should Parkinson’s patients avoid? Approximately one million people are living with Parkinson’s disease inside the United States alone and more than 10 million worldwide. There is no known way to eliminate all symptoms of Parkinson’s. Although there are medications available to reduce the severity of symptoms, they all too often are ineffective when used as the only treatment method, and they may have adverse side effects.
This has led many to pursue symptom relief through dietary changes, and there are certain foods that patients with Parkinson’s should include in their diet and certain foods that they should avoid. The following is a review of how Parkinson’s patients can possibly reduce symptoms through small modifications to their diet.
Foods to Avoid
Studies suggest dairy products may slightly increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, although the way dairy affects those who are already diagnosed is not conclusive. The reason dairy may have a negative effect on some with Parkinson’s is not known, but it is not believed to be related to calcium intake. In fact, those who avoid dairy to reduce symptoms of Parkinson’s should consider taking a calcium supplement to promote bone health, especially if they are over the age of 55.
Foods that are high in sugar are detrimental to patients with Parkinson’s disease in a variety of ways. Sugar may make certain symptoms more severe, and it can also make getting a good night’s rest challenging. Additionally, the negative general health effects of sugar can have an impact on Parkinson’s patients as well. Sugar may contribute to weight gain and make symptoms from other health issues and disease flare-up.
Patients with Parkinson’s disease should limit the intake of salt as much as possible as well. This includes limiting foods, such as certain nuts, ham, and pizza, along with any added salt used for flavoring meat. A little salt is not necessarily a bad thing, but a diet with too much salt may contribute to high blood pressure. High blood pressure may make symptoms worse for Parkinson’s patients, whereas maintaining a healthy blood pressure can help in various ways.
Studies are ongoing on the effects saturated fats have on patients with Parkinson’s disease. Some research suggests that they increase the risk of severe symptoms, whereas diets low in saturated fats may help patients manage symptoms. Generally speaking, saturated fats such as fried or processed foods increase blood pressure and can negatively impact cholesterol, which is detrimental to health overall. For patients with Parkinson’s, poor health caused by an ill-suggested diet of saturated fats can make managing the disease more of a challenge.
The studies of alcohol’s effect on Parkinson’s patients are not conclusive, but it is a well-known fact that excessive alcohol consumption negatively impacts the body and mind. For patients who are battling Parkinson’s, keeping a healthy mental state and body is essential. Therefore, it is recommended to limit the intake of alcohol or quit drinking alcohol altogether to best minimize symptoms and deal with Parkinson’s long-term.
Foods to Include
Not all studies are conclusive, but there is evidence to suggest antioxidants, whole-grains, fruits and vegetables can help patients with Parkinson’s disease minimize their symptoms. It is important to still eat each food in moderation and practice a healthy diet that contains different food groups.
Oxidative stress can have a negative impact on Parkinson’s patients. Naturally, the best way to combat this concern is to eat a diet that contains more antioxidants. Most plant-based diets contain a lot of antioxidants, but there are a range of food types that have antioxidants, including but not limited to the following:
- Various types of berries
- Nuts, pecans and pistachios
- Plant-based foods (i.e. kale, spinach)
- Vegetables (i.e. tomatoes, peppers)
The studies are still ongoing as to how much antioxidants help Parkinson’s patients, but they do promote good general health, so adding them to your diet can only help.
Foods that contain whole grain may also help minimize symptoms in Parkinson’s patients and promote good health in general. Examples of foods that are high in whole grain include bread, breakfast cereal (i.e. Cheerios), grits, tortilla shells, and pasta. Of course, anything in excess may become detrimental after a certain point, but integrating a healthy amount of whole-grain foods into your regular diet may help Parkinson’s patients maintain good health.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables can help Parkinson’s patients in a variety of ways. They contain vitamin C, potassium and folate, all of which promote good health overall. Fruits and vegetables also contain high levels of fiber. Fiber can reduce constipation, which is a common symptom among many who have Parkinson’s.
There are many different fruits and vegetables, and you should feel free to pick your favorites and integrate them into your daily diet. For fruits, several options include strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, bananas, oranges, watermelon, and pineapple. For vegetables, consider trying carrots, green beans, cabbage, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and asparagus. Certain spices such as turmeric can also promote good digestive health in patients with Parkinson’s and can reduce the risk of constipation and other digestive-related symptoms of the disease.
Reach Out to Comfort Home Care for In-Home Care
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and requires assistance with daily living, then call our team at Comfort Home Care today. Our dedicated team works diligently to provide quality care to all patients, and we can tailor our service to meet your specific needs. This may include dietary changes that work for you, such as adding more antioxidants, grains, fruits, and vegetables to your diet, along with reducing the consumption of less healthy foods and drinks.