Diet and Nutrition

A good and well-balanced diet is essential to maintaining good health for anyone living with Parkinson’s disease. Though there is no specific diet that should be followed by a person living with Parkinson’s, a well-balanced meal consisting of all the food classes should be eaten at all times. The main food classes include proteins, carbohydrates, fats and vitamins.

Proteins are essential for building muscle mass needed for energy, stamina, strength, weight control and normal body function. They are also needed for building and maintaining healthy cells. Good sources include meat, kidney beans, eggs, lentils e.t.c

Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. It is important that not all forms of carbohydrates are healthy. A person living with Parkinson’s disease should eat mainly complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates can be found in whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

Vitamins are very important in helping in the smooth function of your body. The body requires an array of essential nutrients, ranging from disease-fighting antioxidants to bone-building heavy metals. Although you can get many of these nutrients in a daily supplement, nearly all of them can also be found in the foods you eat—or should be eating—every day. Natural sources of these nutrients available include sweet potatoes, fish, broccoli, oranges, and carrots.

It is very important to note that protein can interfere with the absorption of carbidopa/levodopa(Sinemet). Proteins can cause a delay in the onset of levodopa effectiveness. It is therefore advised to take your medicine(carbidopa/levodopa) at least one hour before or one hour after meals. Don’t avoid proteins as they are needed to build mass and maintain strength. Eating smaller amounts of proteins frequently is also a strategy that can help offset protein interference.

Good nutrition can help to ease certain P.D symptoms;

  1. Constipation – This is reduced by increasing the intake of foods which are high in soluble fiber. These include foods like broccoli, kales, spinach, pears and whole grains. Drinking at least 6 glasses of water a day can also help.
  2. Fatigue and sleep problems- Limit sugar intake, caffeine and alcohol. Simple sugars supply faster energy but can later lead to energy drain. It is healthier to rely on complex sugars for energy-boosting. Avoid big meals before bed.

Due to Parkinson’s symptoms such as tremors, stiffness or swallowing difficulties, eating certain foods may become challenging. Try eating foods that are easy to swallow. People with PD may eat less and lose weight because of difficulty swallowing and nausea from medications. Consult with an occupational therapist about assistive devices that make eating and drinking easier.

If you intend to make changes to your diet, always discuss this with your doctor first.

Author avatar
Hellen Mwithiga

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