More than 10 million people are living with Parkinson’s disease as we speak. While many genetic and environmental factors play a role in the disease, there is still plenty within our control.
Because the disease is so common, we know a lot about how to live well with it, and that starts with proper nutrition for Parkinson’s. Let’s talk about how to stick to the right diet for Parkinson’s Disease.
Tips on Nutrition and Diet for Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is known for showing its worst symptoms later in life, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait. Eating and maintaining a healthy diet throughout your life will ultimately help with future health. The sooner you start, the better.
Eat Whole Foods First
Our bodies are made to digest whole foods, primarily ones that come from plants. Eating a wide variety of nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is the best way to ensure you are getting enough nutritional value in your meals.
Try to switch up your foods as much as possible, but you really can’t go wrong with any whole foods. If you’re not used to eating healthy foods, then it may seem difficult at first. However, a couple of easy tips to start using in your daily eating habits are to focus on color and foods you enjoy.
Assuming you are using whole foods, then the more colorful your plate is, the more nutritional value there is. Think of salads and soups, which are an easy way to get a lot of nutrition into your meal.
Also, focus on recipes you enjoy. If you like to cook, then start looking up new recipes online and trying them out. If you’re not eating foods you enjoy, it’s unlikely you will stick to a healthy diet for long.
Remember, variety is key. Try to buy different nuts, fruits, vegetables, and other building blocks at the grocery store every week and find new recipes to enjoy them! This will maximize your nutritional intake week after week.
Have A Regular Eating Schedule
This will also help when it comes to timing your medicine. Many Parkinson’s medications or supplements need to be taken with or without a meal.
Eating on a regular schedule will not only help your body with digestion but will also ensure that you are getting the most out of your medication day after day.
Hydration will help control nausea, help your medication function, and ensure proper digestion of your food. Stay clear of sugary beverages and try to drink at least 8 cups of water every day.
Also, some medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease often make users feel thirsty. Try to limit your salt and sugar intake. When consumed in excess, these will cause your body to retain water, which will make you feel bloated, lethargic, and even nauseous.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Part of overall health is to stick to a healthy weight. It’s common for people with Parkinson’s to lose (or even gain) weight.
Often, patients find that they lose their appetites due to medication or depression. The best way to maintain your weight is to fill up on fibrous foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes.
Proper diet should also be paired with proper exercise, which will promote a healthy appetite and assist with mental fatigue.
Also, there’s an expression in the medical community that if a pill was devised that offered all the benefits of exercise, it would be the greatest breakthrough in medical history.
Foods to Avoid With Parkinson’s Disease
There aren’t many foods that you should never eat again. It’s okay to enjoy a treat once in a while, especially with the holidays coming up. However, cutting back on your overall intake of bad fats, cholesterol, salt, and sugar is a good idea.
The occasional piece of red meat isn’t going to be the worst thing in the world, but it should generally be avoided. Lean meats like chicken or turkey are a much better alternative, but limiting your overall meat intake is even better.
Using alternative protein sources like lentils, beans, chickpeas, nuts, and other sources is always recommended. However, we are not suggesting you have to go vegan, but instead to try eating foods that are healthier protein sources.
Bacon, butter, large amounts of cheese, and more. There are plenty of offenders when it comes to fatty foods, so if you have a particular weakness, try to limit your intake.
Fatty fish like salmon, trout, and tuna are excellent sources of healthy fats. Nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, and avocados are also nutritious sources of quality fat.
Limiting your sugar intake means cutting back on sweets. Nearly everything has some amount of sugar in it, including ketchup and salad dressings.
Because of this, it’s important to cut back on the amount of high-sugar foods that you use regularly. If you love ice cream, having a small bowl once a week isn’t the end of the world. However, cutting back significantly is recommended if you consume sugar in excess.
What is ultra-processed food? Think of Oreos, potato chips, Doritos, and other foods that don’t represent a natural shape.
If you think about it, whole grain bread is a processed food, even though it’s very healthy when used in moderation. However, the food that comes from the cookie and cracker aisles in the grocery store offers little to no nutritional benefit, and should generally be avoided.
Eat Well, Get Well!
Now that you know some tips on eating a healthy diet for Parkinson’s disease, start putting these tips to use. The sooner you start eating well, the better. Stay up to date with our latest health news and feel free to contact us with any questions!