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Your Diet and Parkinson’s disease

Senior couple preparing salad

Did you know there is research that demonstrates a link between diet modifications and being able to better control symptoms of Parkinson’s disease? Parkinson’s is a common degenerative neurological disorder that affects around one million people in America, most of them over the age of 60. It’s recommended that seniors who are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease take action to remain strong and healthy, because research has shown improving diet and lifestyle habits can positively impact symptoms, as well as slow the overall progression of the condition. 

Prioritizing exercise and making diet modifications have the potential to help people with Parkinson’s:

  • Enhance their overall quality of life
  • Remain healthier for longer 
  • Avoid secondary Parkinson’s symptoms like constipation
  • Improve mobility and balance

It’s important to remember that with a disease like Parkinson’s, there is never a one-size-fits-all solution. Please speak with your doctor before making any major changes to your lifestyle and your diet. Your doctor should also be able to give you advice on how to best manage any uncomfortable symptoms you are experiencing. 

Prioritizing Overall Health

You can take simple steps to start improving your overall health. Here are  few ideas to discuss with your doctor:

  • Limit your sugar intake. We all have cravings for something sweet every now and again, and when it comes to eating or drinking sugary treats, moderation is key. Too much sugar is also bad for your teeth, so we recommend limiting intake of sugary foods and drinks. 
  • Limit your salt and sodium intake. Many processed foods contain high salt and sodium levels that can lead to high blood pressure.
  • Avoid trendy diets or fad diets that eliminate major food groups. You need a well-balanced diet to stay as healthy as possible.
  • Eat plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. If you aren’t already eating these types of foods, try incorporating them into two of your daily meals. 
  • Be aware of how much alcohol you drink. Some alcoholic beverages contain lots of calories and are high in sugar. Plus, alcohol can negatively interact with certain medications. 
  • Incorporate foods high in antioxidants into your diet. Blueberries, strawberries, red cabbage, pecans, artichokes, spinach, red grapes, and kale are just a few of the antioxidant-rich foods you can add to your diet. 
  • If you don’t already, start exercising. Movement is essential, especially as we age and encounter certain health challenges. Find a physical activity you enjoy, like walking or swimming, and do it on a regular basis. 

Easing Symptoms and Optimizing Medications

If you’re experiencing certain symptoms and side effects from your medications, ask your doctor about lifestyle and diet changes you can make now to help ease them. Many seniors with Parkinson’s disease incorporate the following steps into their daily lives, which promote bone strength, digestion, reaching an optimal weight, and general health:

  • Follow the directions on your prescription medications. If you need to take certain medications with a meal, a snack, or a full glass of water, be sure you are following the instructions. 
  • Drink a minimum of six glasses of water every day. Dehydration is a serious issue and can make you feel much worse. 
  • Eat foods that are rich in fiber, like whole grains, beans, fruits, and brown rice. 
  • Ask your doctor about increasing your Vitamin D intake through foods like fish and egg yolks.

If you have any questions about how to manage symptoms of Parkinson’s disease through diet and lifestyle changes, or if you’d like more information about our long term care programs in NJ, please contact our team at UMC today: https://umcommunities.org

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