Much research has been conducted linking an unhealthy diet to a range of diseases. However, there have also been studies into the best diet for certain health conditions such as Parkinson’s. Good nutrition for Parkinson’s can support patients living with this condition and even slow the progress of the disease.
In our previous article on nutrition for older adults, we discussed some issues that older people can have with nutrition and healthy eating. In this article, we will look at how diet can play a significant role in keeping patients living with Parkinson’s healthy.
Research indicates that eating certain foods and making lifestyle changes can slow down the progression of diseases such as Parkinson’s as well as supporting general health. So, if you have a family member who has Parkinson’s, those caring for them must be aware of how to provide the best nutrition possible.
What is Parkinson’s?
Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition. This means that it causes problems in the brain and gets worse over time. Symptoms of Parkinson’s include tremor, slowness of movement and muscle stiffness as well as other symptoms such as problems with sleep and memory.
Nutrition for Parkinson’s
In general, eating a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds and whole grains is advisable for patients with Parkinson’s, just as it is for the general population. However, some foods are particularly beneficial to those living with the disease.
Antioxidants help regulate cellular activity and fight off free radicals that cause oxidative stress on your body. They may also reduce the “oxidative stress” that exacerbates Parkinson’s.
You can get lots of antioxidants by eating:
- Walnuts, brazil nuts, pecans, and pistachios
- Blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, and elderberries
- Tomatoes, peppers, aubergine, and other nightshade vegetables
- Spinach and kale
Omega 3s can help reduce the secondary symptoms of Parkinson’s such as dementia and confusion. Omega-3s are found naturally in some foods and are added to some. You can increase your intake of omega 3s by eating:
- Salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines
- Nuts and seeds
- Flaxseed oil and soybean oil
- Soya beans and tofu
- Supplements such as cod liver oil
Lifestyle changes that can help Parkinson’s symptoms
Some simple lifestyle changes can make a real difference to Parkinson’s symptoms, too. These include:
1. Staying hydrated
Hydration is particularly important for people with Parkinson’s so you should aim to drink 6-8 glasses of water every day.
2. Get outside every day
If possible, you should get outside every day for fresh air and exercise and to help your body make vitamin D.
3. Moderate alcohol intake
People who experience balance impairment or unsteady gait should take particular care over alcohol consumption as it can make these problems worse.
If you are unsure of what types of food, supplements, and exercise are suitable for you, talk to your GP.
4. Maintain a healthy weight
Some patients with Parkinson’s disease find it hard to eat enough calories to maintain a healthy weight. This can be a side effect of Parkinson’s medication or it may be because of difficulty chewing and swallowing.
Having healthy snacks between meals can really help increase calorie intake. Having three healthy meals plus snacks is a good idea. Try to eat every two to three hours if possible.
You can also increase the amount of high-calorie foods in your meals and snacks. Try adding extra cream, butter, oil, mayonnaise or honey to foods.
If chewing and swallowing is a problem, try softer food such as minced meats, mashed potatoes, casseroles, and soups. You could also replace some snacks with smoothies or milky drinks. While drinks can supplement a balanced diet, they’re not suitable as a replacement for a healthy diet. So, if you are relying on drinks to replace meals you should see your doctor or dietician. They will be able to advise on dietary changes that could help and/or prescribe high-calorie products that provide the right nutrition for Parkinson’s.
How Mumby’s Live-in Care can help
At Mumby’s, we are committed to doing everything we can to support our clients with whatever needs they have. We specialise in working with people living with Parkinson’s and make every endeavour to stay up to date with the latest research on how to support people with this condition.
All our staff are trained in how to support patients with Parkinson’s both physically and emotionally help them live life to the full.
If you need help supporting a loved one, speak to a member of our team today on freephone 0800 505 3511 or email email@example.com to find out how we can assist you with your Parkinson’s care at home needs.