The importance of diet in Parkinson's disease

These are only general perspectives for a more balanced diet that can help to have better control of the disease Parkinson's disease.

The importance of diet in Parkinson's disease
How important is diet in Parkinson's disease? Photo by Louis Hansel / Unsplash

Parkinson's syndrome is the second most common neurodegenerative disease in older adults. It is estimated that in Mexico there are approximately fifty cases per hundred thousand inhabitants. Its first symptoms usually appear around the age of sixty, although some develop it at an earlier age.

It is believed that there is a relationship between the deficit of dopamine in the brain and the development of Parkinson's disease; however, its causes are not completely clear. The best-known symptoms are motor symptoms, such as tremors, rigidity, bradykinesia (slowing of movement), and lack of balance.

There are lesser-known symptoms, in addition to motor symptoms, which may indicate early development of Parkinson's, such as irregular blood pressure, swallowing problems (passing food or saliva), constipation or constipation, dementia, depression, and sleep problems.

The most common treatment is the drug Levodopa, a metabolic precursor that mimics dopamine in the brain. Although it is not a cure, so far it is the most effective option for treating its symptoms.

As with all diseases, nutrition is a very important part of the treatment, as a proper diet can help reduce symptoms in conjunction with the drugs.

Eating fruits, vegetables, and foods rich in antioxidants, such as avocado, red bell pepper, and berries, among others, can help protect cells from oxidative stress.

Drinking natural water frequently and consuming fruits and vegetables rich in dietary fiber, such as leafy greens, legumes, nuts, seeds, etc., can help treat constipation.

Hypertension is known as "the silent killer" because it often produces no symptoms, so all adults should adopt the habit of monitoring their blood pressure regularly, especially those suffering from Parkinson's disease, not forgetting that low blood pressure can also be harmful to health. The physician may recommend that the patient avoid foods that significantly influence blood pressure, such as those containing caffeine, salt, and alcohol, among others.

If the patient is at a stage where it is difficult to swallow food, a nutrition professional may recommend softening the food or adding foods such as seasonings or carbonated foods to avoid swallowing problems.

Cramps are also common in older adults suffering from Parkinson's, which are caused by a lack of minerals such as magnesium or potassium and B vitamins. In the first case, you can consume oranges, bananas, tomatoes, and kiwis, among others, while, to have a balance of vitamin B, you can eat fish, meat, eggs, and milk, among others.

Those who take Levodopa are advised to reduce the consumption of foods with high levels of animal protein since these affect the absorption of the drug. The most advisable thing is that the patient receives attention from a nutrition expert, who will make recommendations for each particular case.

It is important to emphasize that these recommendations are not a substitute for pharmacological treatments or medical indications, they are only general perspectives for a more balanced diet that can help to have better control of the disease.

By Diana Josefina León Félix, Master of Science student. Source: CIAD