The one thing every person with Parkinson’s disease hears about constantly is the importance of taking medications on time. Most may have heard mention about the importance of exercise once or twice as well (okay, probably almost as much as the medication thing.)
An area that is sometimes neglected is the importance of eating well. The food that goes into the body of a Parkinsonian is almost as important as the medication. Food provides the energy a body needs to function well. Proper nutrition fuels the muscles, the brain and keeps joints working smoothly.
Eating well means eating a balanced diet, including foods from all food groups (grains, vegetables, fruit, milk/ dairy, meat/beans) and not skipping meals. A balanced diet can help reduce some of the vitamin deficiencies that often come with Parkinson’s, including reduced B12 and D. Constipation, another common problem in Parkinson’s, can also be assisted by with a good diet. Increase the intake of fruits and vegetables and make sure to get plenty of fluids, particularly in the form of water or fruit juices.
One caution in planning a balanced diet with Parkinson’s meds is to be aware of the timing of high protein foods. The amino acids in protein can break down levodopa before it has the chance to reach the brain. The body and muscles need protein to function well, so rather than eliminating or greatly reducing protein uptake most doctors suggest taking levodopa medications 30 minutes before a high protein meal.
These are just a couple of brief tips. For expert advice and to most successfully fuel the body, consult with a dietitian who can suggest the best foods for a Parkinsonian to maintain a healthy weight and fuel the body. For a basic guideline, visit www.mypyramid.gov, where you can get a personalized plan based on the FDA Food Pyramid guidelines.