No special diets or natural foods have been shown to slow down the progression of Parkinson's disease, but there are some dietary recommendations.
Protein. High levels of proteins may affect how much levodopa can reach the brain and may, therefore, reduce the drug's effectiveness. Avoiding protein altogether is not the solution, since malnutrition can result. Most doctors recommend trying to maintain a carbohydrate-to-protein ratio of 7:1 throughout the day. This may be difficult to calculate, and some doctors recommend simply keeping proteins to 12% of total daily calories.
Good control of protein intake may help minimize fluctuations and wearing-off and may allow some patients to reduce their daily levodopa dosage.
Fruits and Vegetables and Increasing Fiber. Eating whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables is the best approach for any healthy life. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help protect nerve cell function. Many of these foods are also often rich in fiber, which is particularly important for helping to prevent constipation.
People whose diets have been low in fiber should increase it gradually. It is best to obtain dietary fiber, soluble or insoluble, in the natural form of whole grains, nuts, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. If it proves difficult to do so, psyllium, (found in products such as Metamucil), is an excellent soluble fiber supplement (Metamucil, Fiberall, Perdiem Fiber). Drinking lots of fluids is particularly important in preventing constipation.
Generally, manufacturers of herbal remedies and dietary supplements do not need FDA approval to sell their products. Just like a drug, herbs and supplements can affect the body's chemistry, and therefore have the potential to produce side effects that may be harmful. There have been a number of reported cases of serious and even lethal side effects from herbal products. Always check with your doctor before using any herbal remedies or dietary supplements.
The following dietary supplements are being studied for treatment of Parkinson's disease:
Exercise is an important component of rehabilitation. Physical therapy may help with physical function and quality of life. It usually includes active and passive exercise, gait training, and practice in normal activities. To date, no specific exercise approach has been proven to be better than others.
Exercise Programs. Exercise programs are defined as passive or active.
Gait Training. Practicing new methods for standing, walking, and turning may help retain balance. The following tips may be helpful:
Reducing Muscle Freezing. The patient should practice regular daily activities that simplify actions and reduce the incidence of muscle freezing. Most often, freezing occurs when a patient begins to move or is presented with an obstacle. The following tips may be helpful:
Mental Tasks. Mental training is also helpful. Approaches include:
Speech Therapy. Speech therapy may help those who develop a monotone voice and lose volume, particularly in combination with medications. Therapy is prescribed to help with speech and to evaluate and monitor swallowing.
A number of devices can be helpful for maintaining stability and preventing falls. Examples include:
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