The best food for Parkinson’s Disease

 With 120,000 new cases of Parkinson’s Disease just in the UK each year, PD is the second most common neurodegenerative condition just after Alzheimer’s Disease.

In this article we will examine what foods are best during Parkinson’s Disease

In order to fully understand the rational behind the suggested dietary choices, we have to look at what are the main symptoms and how to manage them.

Specifically, we need to understand the mechanisms of the disease, so to adjust the biochemistry of our nutrition accordingly.

Whilst drawing these guidelines, it has  been taken in consideration the possible interaction with the major prescription medication and how to reduce their side effects.

 Parkinson’s disease: understanding the mechanisms

Parkinon’s disease is a motor disorder characterised by

  • muscle rigidity
  • bradykinesia (slowness in the execution of movement)
  • posture instability
  • resting tremor
  • constipation
  • impotence

There are also possible psychiatric symptoms involved, such as:

  • depression
  • dementia
  • confusion
  • speech-swallowing may be also affected over time

The disease is brought about by a complex series of event, amongst which, the most important are:

  1. Degeneration of the cells at subcortical systems (of the brain), the area deputed to motor planning, initiation and direction of voluntary movement. The most affected cells are the neurons producing dopamine. 
  2. Mitochondrial dysfunction. Mitochondria are the cell’s powerhouse. Once mitochondria do not work as they should, the cell gets loaded with toxic chemicals such as reactive oxygen species (ROS), which lead to inflammation and further neuronal death.

What ingredients should you include in your diet

For the above reasons, a diet rich in raw fruit and vegetables is highly recommended as it is rich in antioxidant, which helps fight toxic free radicals, which are extremely high in patients with Parkinson’s.

One of the main toxic by-product that patients with PD should watch out from is homocysteine, a neurotoxin. B vitamins such as Folic Acid, B12, B6, B2, but also zinc and magnesium are all very important at directly lowering the high levels of homocysteine.
It has been proven that in as little as 12 weeks including foods rich in these nutrients reduce homocysteine levels, slowing the progression of the disease.

Here is a list of foods great for Parkinson’s patients:

  • Beans and lentils
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Asparagus (cooked)
  • Avocados
  • Broccoli
  • Mango
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pistachio nuts
  • Cashew nuts
  • 80% dark chocolate (or cocoa beans)
  • Whole grains

Despite not being considered a dietary item yet by society, raw cannabis leafs are not only edible, but one of the best foods for anyone suffering from inflammatory conditions. To learn more, check out here.

Cannabis is also great at reducing some of the symptoms experienced with Parkinson’s, such as tremor-muscle spasms, depression, constipation.

You can safely include raw cannabis leafs juices, smoothies or salads without experiencing any psychotropic or unwanted effect.

If you are interested to know more about this, visit this complete review on the properties of raw cannabis.

Medication, efficacy, side effects and food

Your Doctor has probably already adviced you to take Levodopa away from meals, and rightly so. It is also important to keep the % of protein intake low, especially (but not exclusively) if the current medication is Levodopa, which compete for absorption with other proteins, thus limiting the effects of the medication.
Animal proteins can be replaced by moderate amounts of plant-based proteins and healthy source of Omega 3‘s which are very effective at reducing inflammation and improving cognitive performance and stress-anxiety-depressive states, due to high levels of DHA.
Consider that the majority of fruits and substantially any vegetable contains amino acids (protein building blocks).

However, it is suggestible that you would consider adding to your diet a couple of teaspoon daily of the foods below to provide healthy amounts of anti-inflammatory Omega 3’s.

Foods suggested are, first of all, hemp, along with flaxseed (which are also great for constipation) and pumpkin seeds.

Finally, remember to avoid by all costs stimulants (such as coffee, tea, energy drinks, spicy foods) and tyramine-rich foods (such as meats, fermented food, cheese, wine and beer).

These foods are not only irritant to your bowel, but can also interfere with MAO-B inhibitors medication as well as L-DOPA.

Are you interested in the chemistry of food?

Are you looking for a sustainable and appetizing way to follow all these dietary instructions?

Check out our Video on Parkinson’s Disease and nutrition here!


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Viola Brugnatelli

Viola Brugnatelli is a Neuroscientist specialised in Cannabinoid circuitry & GPCRs signalling. Her academy and research training let her gain extensive experience on medical cannabis and terpenes both from preclinical as well as clinical perspective. In her vision, collective human knowledge behold the power for overall improvement of life, thus, it should be accessible and shareable. Viola is Founder of the science online magazine Nature Going Smart, and works as a consultant for companies & individual patients, as a speaker at seminars and workshops and as a lecturer in a CME course on Medical Cannabis in Italy, at the University of Padua.

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