A variety of foods can optimize the health of a person with Parkinson’s disease, but first, it is important to understand how the brain is impacted in someone with Parkinson’s disease. Part of the brain, called the substantianigra, is the production center for a neurotransmitter called dopamine. For unknown reasons this is the part of the brain that quits working properly for a person with Parkinson’s disease.The lack of dopamine leads to the following symptoms: slow movement, rigidity,and balance problems, difficulty with speech, depression and other motor or cognition problems.
To make up for the dopamine deficiency most Parkinson’s disease patients take a drug called Levadopa, which helps with dopamine production. Their diet and nutrition can impact the effectiveness of the drug in several ways. Vitamins and minerals are needed to bring dopamine production to completion. This means a colorful diet with fruits and vegetables is needed.Dopamine needs amino acids (protein) in order to develop. However,each person needs to discuss with their physician when to eat protein throughout the day as eating protein at the time of taking Levadopa can minimize the production of dopamine levels.
In addition, eating whole grains rather than refined flour and sugar will help to maintain glucose levels which optimize consistent energy throughout the day. Foods with Omega 3 fats can also help to combat depression whichcomes with Parkinson’s disease. Omega 3 fats are found in salmon, tuna, flax seeds and pumpkin seeds. As you can see, a wide variety of foods are beneficial and can optimize the health of someone with Parkinson’s disease.
A perfect afternoon snack for Spring:
Cucumber Tomato Salad
- 3 large tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 medium cucumber, seeded and finely chopped
- ½ large sweet onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup loosely packed basil, minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
- ½ tsp. Salt
- ¼ tsp. Pepper
1. In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, cucumber and onion.
2. In a small bowl, combine basil, garlic, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Pour mixture over large bowl ingredients and toss.
3. For best flavoring, refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
Serve with pita chips or whole grain crackers. Or for dinner, serve with grilled chicken.
Sources:foodforthebrain.org and michaeljfox.org.
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