Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement.
In addition to the well-known motor symptoms like tremors, stiffness, and balance problems, people with Parkinson’s may also experience a range of nonmotor symptoms like fatigue, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and cognitive impairment.
Unfortunately, effective treatment options for these nonmotor symptoms are limited, and many people with Parkinson’s struggle with them on a daily basis.
A group of researchers wondered if changes to a person’s diet could help manage some of these nonmotor symptoms.
To explore this possibility, they conducted a study to see if three different dietary indices were associated with nonmotor symptom severity in people with Parkinson’s.
The first index was called the Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet, which is a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH diets.
Both of these diets are known for being high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats, and low in processed foods, added sugars, and saturated fats.
The second index was called the Dietary Inflammation Index (DII), which measures how much inflammation-promoting and anti-inflammatory foods a person eats.
Chronic inflammation has been linked to many health problems, including Parkinson’s.
The third index was called the Healthy Diet Indicator (HDI-2020), which is based on the World Health Organization’s dietary guidelines and measures how closely a person’s diet aligns with those guidelines.
To conduct the study, the researchers collected dietary data from people with Parkinson’s using a food frequency questionnaire.
They also collected clinical data on nonmotor symptoms, including fatigue, depression, anxiety, apathy, sleep problems, daytime sleepiness, and cognitive impairment.
Then they analyzed the relationship between each dietary score and nonmotor symptom severity.
The results showed that none of the three dietary indices significantly predicted the overall severity of nonmotor symptoms in people with Parkinson’s.
However, when the researchers looked at specific symptoms, they found some interesting associations with the HDI-2020.
For example, higher adherence to the HDI-2020 was associated with lower levels of fatigue and depression.
Specifically, for each point increase in the HDI-2020 score, there was a corresponding decrease in fatigue and depression symptoms.
The associations remained significant even after adjusting for age, sex, energy intake, years since diagnosis, physical activity level, education, and smoking.
Overall, the study suggests that making dietary changes based on the HDI-2020 could be a promising way to manage fatigue and depression symptoms in people with Parkinson’s.
However, more research is needed to confirm these findings and explore other potential dietary interventions for nonmotor symptoms in Parkinson’s.
Managing Parkinson’s disease requires a multifaceted approach that often involves a combination of medication, lifestyle changes, and supportive therapies. Here are some strategies that may help:
Medication: There are several medications available that can help manage the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s, such as tremors, stiffness, and slowness of movement.
Exercise: Regular exercise can help improve motor function, balance, and flexibility in people with Parkinson’s. Activities like walking, biking, swimming, and yoga can all be beneficial
Physical therapy: Physical therapy can be helpful for improving mobility, balance, and strength in people with Parkinson’s. A physical therapist can work with you to develop an exercise plan tailored to your needs and abilities.
Occupational therapy: Occupational therapy can help you learn new strategies for completing daily activities like dressing, bathing, and cooking.
Speech therapy: Speech therapy can be helpful for people with Parkinson’s who experience speech difficulties like slurred speech or difficulty speaking loudly.
Nutritional therapy: As we discussed earlier, some research suggests that certain dietary changes may help manage nonmotor symptoms like fatigue and depression in people with Parkinson’s.
Support groups: Parkinson’s disease can be a challenging condition to live with, and it’s important to have a support system in place.
Remember, managing Parkinson’s is a journey, and it may take some trial and error to find the right combination of treatments that works for you.
The research was published in the Journal of the American Nutrition Association and was conducted by Sophie Lawrie et al.
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