The Best Foods to Eat for Parkinson’s Disease Patients

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Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disease that affects your central nervous system. Symptoms include tremors, stiffness, difficulty walking, loss of balance and not blinking. As the disease progresses, you may experience memory loss, digestive problems and difficulty speaking, breathing and swallowing. Though a cure for Parkinson’s disease remains unknown, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, medications and lifestyle changes, such as eating certain foods and nutrients, may help reduce your symptoms.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables provide rich amounts of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Increasing your intake of antioxidants, such as vitamin C, may help reduce your need for certain medications, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Fruits and vegetables rich in Vitamin C include red and green bell peppers, citrus fruits and juices, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, papaya, kiwi, spinach, kale, broccoli and sweet potatoes. Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, such as artichokes, avocados, prunes, bananas, apples, pears, guava and legumes, such as beans, peas and lentils, can help improve digestive function and prevent or alleviate constipation.

Fatty Fish, Walnuts and Flaxseed

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Fatty fish, walnuts and flaxseed provide valuable amounts of omega-3 fatty acids — healthy fats your body requires and must obtain from dietary sources. In addition to promoting cardiovascular health, omega-3 fats may help improve your emotional health. A study published in the “Journal of Affective Disorders” in December 2008, showed a positive correlation between omega-3 fat intake and reduced depression in Parkinson’s disease patients. In the study, 31 patients with Parkinson’s disease were divided into two groups — a group that took antidepressants and a group that did not. Participants in both groups were given either omega-3 fatty acids in the form of fish oil or a placebo. At the end of 12 weeks, patients who took the fish oil supplements showed reduced depression symptoms, regardless of whether they were taking antidepressants. To reap potentially similar benefits, incorporate omega-3 fatty acids into your diet regularly. Valuable sources of omega-3 fats include salmon, albacore tuna, flounder, halibut, sardines, lake trout, ground flaxseed, flaxseed oil, walnuts and walnut oil.

Whole Grains

Whole grains provide significant amounts of fiber, which promotes digestive health and regularity, and nutrients, such as B-vitamins, zinc and selenium. Your doctor may recommend limiting your protein intake, particularly at your breakfast and lunch meals, for reduced symptoms, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Filling up on healthy, whole grain carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables can help you meet your nutrient and calorie needs. Whole grains also enhance blood sugar levels and sustained energy. Valuable sources of whole grains include 100 percent whole grain breads and cold cereals, old-fashioned or steel-cut oatmeal, long-grain brown rice, wild rice, air-popped popcorn, quinoa and barley soup.

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