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Delaying Parkinson's with Healthy Eating

Parkinson's and Diet

Recent research from Canada and Italy suggests that it is possible to defer the onset of Parkinsonism by changing what a person eats.

A Canadian research team was able to establish a correlation between those who eat either a Mediterranean diet or the MIND diet, and a delay in the onset of Parkinson's. The MIND diet combines elements of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet.

Both the Mediterranean and MIND diet encourage eating whole grains, vegetables, fish and reduced amounts of meat and dairy.

According to the research data, adopting such diets can delay the onset of Parkinsonism by 17.4 years for women and 8 years for men. The study is limited, however, as the researchers could not determine how long people who successfully deferred a diagnosis were following their Mediterranean or MIND diet.

"We don't know how long they have been on those diets, but ideally for neurodegenerative diseases and your health in general, it is best to just start as early as possible," said Avril Metcalfe-Roach, a graduate student and study author.

Diets like the Mediterranean and MIND diets are thought to use the gut microbiome to reduce inflammation, further highlighting the connection between the gut and the brain.

Extensive global research efforts have been geared towards understanding how products of the gut microbiome affect Parkinson's.

Another recent study from Italy has pointed towards higher Vitamin C and E intake to lower the risk of developing Parkinson's.

For that study, which spanned 18 years, researchers asked more than 41,000 healthy adults about their diet.

From the 1% of adults in that study that went on to develop Parkinson's, the researchers were able to determine that groups with the highest levels of dietary Vitamin C and E intake had a 32 percent decreased risk of Parkinson's.

Vitamin C and E are antioxidants, which prevent or reduce cell damage and inflammation. A diet high in antioxidants, commonly found in fruits and vegetables, is important for general health.

Good sources of Vitamin C include oranges and broccoli; almonds, avocado and spinach are high in Vitamin E.

More work is needed to determine the exact amounts of Vitamin C and E that may be most beneficial for reducing PD risk.

Please talk with your treatment team or a dietician before making any wholesale changes to your diet, to avoid any unwanted medication interactions.

Sources: Metcalfe‐Roach, Avril, et al. "MIND and Mediterranean Diets Associated with Later Onset of Parkinson's Disease." Movement Disorders (2020).

Hantikainen, Essi, et al. "Dietary antioxidants and the risk of Parkinson Disease." Neurology (2021).

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