Parkinson’s Disease Patients Should Monitor Their Diets

According to Parkinson’s News Today, diet is something that should be monitored in Parkinson’s disease patients. Many do not eat enough iron, vitamin B1, zinc, or vitamin D, which was discovered in a Belgian study that was published in the Frontiers in Nutrition. This study also found that many do not take their medication, levodopa, during meals despite knowing that it impacts the absorption of the treatment into the body. Because of this, monitoring diets may be a way to better manage symptoms.

About Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder that affects the central nervous system (CNS). It is characterized by its effect on movement through five different stages. As the disease progresses, severity increases. Stage one is characterized by subtle tremors on one side of the body. In stage two symptoms are more noticeable, with tremors and rigidity on both sides of the body. Stage three brings loss of balance and slowed movement. Stage four makes it impossible for one to live independently. Stage five is the most severe, as patients cannot stand or walk. Hallucinations and delusions are common symptoms of this stage.

Parkinson’s disease occurs due to the death of motor neurons, some of which produce dopamine. Dopamine is important in the transmittance of messages to the muscles from the brain, so the loss of dopamine results in the loss of motor functions. Abnormal brain activity occurs when these neurons are lost. Doctors do not know why these motor neurons die, but they do suspect a few factors that play a role, such as genetics, environmental factors like toxins, and Lewy bodies.

About the Study

Not enough is known about the dietary habits of Parkinson’s patients, or how these habits affect the medications they take. Belgian researchers aimed to change this through studying the nutrient intake of Parkinson’s patients in comparison to the general public.

74 participants were included in this study, and they were required to record their diet for two days and fill out questionnaires. While nearly all patients were eating enough protein, 44% were not eating enough carbohydrates, and 50% did not intake enough fiber. More than half of participants did not have enough vitamin D, and over 3/4 eat too little iron. On the other hand, 70% of female participants were eating too many fats, as were 41.7% of males.

The researchers also investigated how diet interacts with medication. Nearly all of the participants were taking levodopa, and 64.4% knew that food could alter how it was absorbed into their bodies. Despite the high percentage that know this, only 18.2% took their medication outside of a meal. The majority of participants did not take levodopa at a fixed time, sometimes with meals and sometimes without.

While there were limitations to this study, medical professionals are able to learn a lot about how diet impacts Parkinson’s and levodopa. Hopefully this data will allow for further studies and improvements in treatment.

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