Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Parkinson's Palate, What Diet Should a PD Patient Pursue?

The Holy Grail of Parkinson's research is reversing and healing the damage the disease does. Short of that, and more immediately within our reach, is slowing it down. Ironically, the fact Parkinson's is slow-moving to begin with makes it difficult to tell whether your attempts to retard it are effective. So a just-released study, "Role of Diet and Nutritional Supplements in Parkinson’s Disease Progression," that appeared in the journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, was met with excitement by the PD community. While there isn't any radical departure in direction, the study puts substantial additional weight behind the old recommendation: follow the Mediterranean Diet.

The study, led by Laurie K. Mischley of Bastyr University features a table that lists foods effective in slowing the disease, and foods that seem to speed it up. The authors point out the Mediterranean diet, known for its association with a lower risk of developing Parkinson's can now be looked on as a way not only to reduce the risk but too slow the disease progression, too.

What is the Mediterranean diet? Here is a simplified version adapted from Healthline that fits well with the advice from the study:

  • Eat: Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, herbs, turmeric, ginger, fish, seafood and extra virgin olive oil.
  • Eat in moderation: Poultry, eggs,
  • Eat only rarely: Red meat
  • Don't eat: Sugar-sweetened beverages, added sugars, processed meat, refined grains, refined oils and other highly processed foods.

Also in the don't eat category: dairy. The study found "Ice cream, cheese, and yogurt intakes were associated with higher rates of PD progression (Table 2). Dairy has been repeatedly associated with PD incidence." You say "No yogurt? I thought that was as good way to keep the cultures in my gut healthy!" Granted, but you can replace that with other fermented foods, like pickles, kim chee, saurkraut, stink heads, kombucha or miso. There is a mammoth list of fermented foods here.

The authors had some unkind words about canned fruits and vegetables "Consumption of canned fruits and vegetables was a strong predictor of PD progression. Initially thought to be associated with socioeconomic status, the association remained after adjusting for income. Bisphenol A (BPA) is used extensively worldwide in the inner coating of food cans, and there is evidence that BPA contaminates foods stored in the cans. BPA is a well-established endocrine conductor associated with obesity, and more recent evidence suggests that it is an energy balance disruptor." Frozen fruits and vegetables were also found to be bad for people with PD, although the report offers no information on why this might be.

They also point to fried foods, soda, and beef as hastening PD progression. "Beef and pork, the most frequently consumed mammals in the Western diet, have several things in common, including a high-fat content and slow intestinal transit time. That intake of pork which was not statistically significantly associated with worse prognosis suggests that future research should be directed toward variables unique to beef, such as the higher iron content.

The authors had nothing to say on the health effects specific to PD of eating insects, the food of the future, so we'll just have to wait for that to be studied, But there is plenty of good advice  for what to eat in the present if you want to have a future. Bon app├ętit!

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