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Eating for Parkinson's Disease Management:

There are so many diets out there! Is there an appropriate way of eating for patients with Parkinson's disease? And the answer is Yes and No. See, because what nutritionally benefits one person may not help another. We are all individuals, and the disease affects us all differently. However, some diets do hold some benefit to those diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease.

Types of diets associated with Parkinson's disease management:

  • KETO

  • Mediterranean

  • Intermittent Fasting

  • Feingold

  • MIND diet ( mediterranean+ dash)

I know there is a lot of buzz out there around Keto and neurological diseases. Keto was designed to benefit children with epilepsy. PD is sensitive to carbohydrates, but not to the minimal amount of only 20g of carbs per day, as suggested by the Keto diet. Additionally, this type of diet is not sustainable and can cause kidney issues. Research has shown that while on a keto diet, PD patients had decreased nonmotor symptoms but an increase in motor symptoms such as increased tremors and rigidity.

The diet pattern that I recommend following for PD is the Mediterranean diet. It consists of lean proteins, fish, beans, grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and complex carbs. This diet reduces inflammation, is high in antioxidants and vitamins, is easier to adhere to long-term, and lowers motor and nonmotor symptoms. This diet is based mainly around whole foods as much as possible while incorporating lots of omega 3 healthy fats by nuts, avocado, and olive oil.

The MIND diet reduces food consumption to only 10 types of foods: chicken, fish, leafy greens, other veggies, berries, nuts, olive oil, beans, and whole grains. This diet has not been studied in PD as of late, but a 2018 study did show a 55% reduction in symptoms among Alzheimer's patients. This diet, I think, is highly restrictive and hard to adhere to, but everyone is different, and there may be some benefit to trying this out for a while. If you do, I would suggest employing the help of a nutritionist or dietitian to monitor and guide you.

The Feingold diet is an elimination diet that removes all sugar, artificial sweeteners, dyes, and coloring. This diet has seen promise in ADD/ADHD/behavioral disorders, but nothing supports it for PD.

Intermittent Fasting is a way of eating where it doesn't matter what you eat, so much as when you eat. It narrows your window of eating time to 8, 10, or 12 hours of the day. Typically this helps lower blood sugar levels, insulin resistance and helping with unnecessary high-calorie snacking at night. However, since PD patients struggle with appetite loss, I wouldn't recommend this for the general population of PD, as it can be dangerous. I think if you'd like to try it and you aren't suffering from unexpected weight loss, appetite loss, swallowing issues, then it should be done while being monitored by a nutritionist or dietitian.


Protein consumption can interfere with the effects of the commonly prescribed medication Levodopa. Protein and L-Dopa compete for the same receptor in the digestive tract to get into the blood and the brain. Protein always wins over L-Dopa. For this, my recommendation is to take medication on an empty stomach or with something containing no protein like applesauce. Then wait about an hour and eat protein-containing food. When the protein has been digested and reaches the digestive tract, the L-Dope will already be absorbed. That's a general time frame; you should be able to eat protein a half-hour after taking the medication or anywhere up to two hours. If your medication dosage is not multiple times a day, you could try taking the medication in the AM and stacking your protein amounts in the afternoon and PM.

All in all, these are some great places to start being observant of your symptoms and habits. But ultimately, I believe that nutrition for PD should be personalized and specific to you!

Tina Durham

(267) 481-5024


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