For those diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD), diet may play a more significant role than previously thought.
Researchers from Penn State University have found that people with PD who consume more flavonoids, the compounds found in brightly colored foods like berries, red wine, and cocoa, may have a lower mortality risk.
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition affecting more than 10 million people worldwide. While it’s not considered fatal in itself, its complications can lead to increased mortality. To date, not many studies have delved into how dietary choices may affect disease prognosis.
The research, published in the journal Neurology, analyzed data from 1,251 men and women recently diagnosed with PD.
Participants were surveyed about their consumption of flavonoid-rich foods, such as tea, apples, berries, oranges, orange juice, and red wine.
Participants in the top 25% of flavonoid consumers had a 70% higher survival rate compared to those in the bottom 25%.
Men who consumed more flavonoids before being diagnosed with PD also had a lower risk of death, although the same was not observed in women.
Anthocyanins, found in red wine and berries, and flavan-3-ols, found in apples, tea, and wine, appeared to be especially beneficial.
Those in the top 25% of consumers for these specific flavonoids had a 66% and 69% higher survival rate, respectively, compared to those in the bottom 25%.
The researchers speculate that flavonoids’ antioxidant properties may be reducing chronic neuroinflammation levels.
Furthermore, these compounds might also interact with enzyme activities to slow neuron loss and protect against cognitive decline and depression—both of which are associated with a higher mortality risk.
What This Means for PD Patients
The study suggests a promising avenue for PD patients to improve their quality of life and possibly extend their life expectancy.
Eating more flavonoid-rich foods could be an easy and effective way to mitigate some of the disease’s risks.
However, further studies are needed to understand the exact mechanisms at play and whether these findings can be generalized to a larger population.
So, if you’re battling Parkinson’s disease or know someone who is, perhaps it’s time to add some color to the dining table.
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