The Fox Focus Fall/Winter 2017 - Page 18

Living with Parkinson’s ASK THE MD: CAN DIET TREAT PARKINSON’S? When considering what to eat when living with Parkinson’s disease (PD), there are a menu of options but no combination of foods has been proven to slow disease progression. Doctors recommend a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables to maximize general health and help ease certain non-motor symptoms, such as constipation and low blood pressure. For some, dietary adjustments (particularly around protein intake) may ensure PD medications, such as levodopa, work optimally. Below, I discuss a few of the most commonly asked about diets. Always discuss any planned dietary changes with your personal physician and registered dietitian, if you have one. KETOGENIC DIET High in fat and low in carbohydrates and protein, this diet shifts the body’s usual energy source from glucose (sugar) to fats (ketone bodies). While pre-clinical work and one small, open-label study of people with PD support the potential for motor symptom improvement, more research is necessary to fully evaluate possible benefits. This diet is strict and can be challenging to follow. (Modified forms include the Atkins and Grain Brain regimens.) A physician and dietitian must monitor bloodwork and watch for side effects, such as dehydration, kidney stones and nutritional deficiencies. GLUTEN-FREE DIET This diet excludes gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Some individuals anecdotally report benefit while on this diet, but pre-clinical or clinical evidence does not exist to promote using a gluten-free diet for Parkinson’s disease. And, it could increase the risk of certain vitamin deficiencies. MEDITERRANEAN DIET The Mediterranean diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and “healthy fats,” such as those in nuts and olive oil. Fish is a staple, while red meat is limited to a few times per month at most. Red wine, with meals, is allowed in moderation. This regimen has been associated with decreased risk for Alzheimer’s, heart disease and certain forms of cancer. Two studies also correlate it with a lower risk of PD, but further research is necessary. MIND (MEDITERRANEAN-DASH INTERVENTION FOR NEURODEGENERATIVE DELAY) DIET MIND combines the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets. It emphasizes 10 foods — leafy greens, other vegetables, berries, poultry, fish, olive oil, beans, nuts, whole grains and wine — in precise recommended daily and weekly amounts. This diet has been associated with lower rates of Alzheimer’s, but hasn’t been specifically studied in Parkinson’s. The bottom line? There is no single “Parkinson’s diet,” and creating a recipe for wellness must account for many factors, such as an individual’s other medical conditions and activity level. Treat diet like medication — only make significant changes after discussing with your physician and dietitian. 18 The Fox Focus