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How Diet Influences Parkinson’s Disease

Special diets can’t cure or stop Parkinson’s disease, but paying attention to diet is important for managing symptoms of the disease. Toronto Parkinson’s care experts also note that a healthy, balanced diet can help seniors and older adults with Parkinson’s disease maintain the highest possible quality of life.

Medications

One of the most common medications prescribed to treat Parkinson’s disease, levodopa, competes with protein for uptake from the digestive tract. Levodopa is absorbed more effectively if taken on an empty stomach or if taken with a few crackers to prevent nausea. The medication will be absorbed more effectively from the digestive tract if protein-rich foods are avoided for several hours. Levodopa is usually taken in the morning, so individuals with Parkinson’s disease should plan to eat fruits, vegetables and carbohydrate-rich meals at breakfast and lunch and save the protein for dinner.

Other common medications for Parkinson’s disease, monoamine oxidase B inhibitors (rasagiline or selegiline), increase the level of tyramine in the body. If too much tyramine is consumed in the diet, patients can experience elevations of blood pressure. Cured and fermented foods such as wine, aged cheeses and cured meats all contain high levels of tyramine and should only be consumed in limited quantities while taking monoamine oxidase B inhibitors.

Symptoms

Constipation is a common symptom of Parkinson’s disease. Eating plenty of fibre-rich fruits, vegetables and beans can help ease constipation. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can not only help relieve constipation, but can also ease the dry mouth some medications cause.

If you provide home care for a senior with Parkinson’s, you know that it can be difficult for him or her to eat enough food. Sometimes lack of appetite is due to fatigue. Having someone else prepare meals can be helpful if an individual is too tired to cook. Alternatively, consider keeping balanced meals frozen and ready to be quickly heated up. A supply of high-calorie, nutritious snacks should be kept ready to eat at any time.

General Health

Parkinson’s disease patients who make an effort to eat a healthy, balanced diet can improve their health in general and improve their quality of life. A diet high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, seafood and lean meats will provide plenty of antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, fibre and other healthful nutrients.

Some evidence suggests that certain foods, beverages and supplements may be protective against neurodegeneration. Even if further study reveals that these items do not affect the progression of Parkinson’s disease, these foods should be part of a healthy diet. Patients with Parkinson’s should consider taking vitamin D supplements, drinking plenty of tea, eating salmon frequently, and snacking on nuts and berries.

Helping an Aging Loved One

The symptoms of Parkinson’s can sometimes make it difficult for a senior to get to the grocery store or to prepare meals. If you feel your loved one could use a helping hand with daily activities, reach out to Home Care Assistance of Toronto today. Our live-in and hourly Toronto caregivers are highly trained in how to meet the needs of seniors with Parkinson’s and can assist with a wide range of daily activities to ensure safety and comfort in and out of the home. For more information, reach out to an experienced Care Manager today at 416-488-8777.