Parkinson's disease: what lifestyle? What to eat ?


THE meal punctuates the days, they are a source of energy but also of pleasure and sharing. In Parkinson’s, a neurodegenerative disease that severely affects life and handicaps more than 270,000 people in France, no food should be avoided. L’food plays an essential role pour maintaining well-being and fight against the adverse effects of the disease.

Eat away from taking medication

Anti-Parkinsonian treatments compete with dietary proteins. There is a digestive battle between the two, and it is the proteins that win! It is therefore recommended to eat at least 30 minutes after taking your medication. Claire Trémolières, dietician-nutritionist

It’s important to talk about your pace of life with your neurologist because the latter tend to give precise times for medicines, which do not correspond to patients’ schedules. For example: if medication must be taken at 8 p.m. and the person usually eats at 7 p.m., they should not eat before 8:30 p.m. However, they risk eating beforehand anyway, which will lead to digestive competition. with medications or eating very little, increasing the risk of malnutrition.

« Parkinson’s disease mainly causes constipation, a risk of malnutrition and, sometimes, swallowing problems, specifies the dietitian. Diet can then help fight against these disorders. »

Constipation: how to limit the risk?

Constipation is often present from the beginning of the illness and lasts until the end. “It not only leads to a digestive discomfort, but also, when it is important, a delay in absorption of treatments », specifies Claire Trémolières.

Some good healthy lifestyle attitudes to adopt:

” It’s important to hydrate well by drinking 1 liter to 1.5 liters of water, herbal tea, tea or coffee every day,” explains the dietitian. You can choose waters rich in sulfates and magnesium such as Contrex, Hépar, Courmayeur, Badoit, Rozanna, Quézac…

“We must also introduce into our eating habits a source of fibers found in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes, continues the dietitian. However, if you are not used to consuming fiber, you should go gradually and start with tender, cooked fiber. ” From fiber-rich foods :

  • THE dried fruit such as prunes, dried figs, dates;
  • THE Whole grains such as wholemeal bread, bran bread, wholemeal rice or wholemeal pasta;
  • THE vegetables and fruits with peel such as leeks, spinach, green beans, tomatoes as well as apples, kiwis, cherries or grapes;
  • THE dried vegetables (legumes) like lentils, chickpeas, beans.

Undernutrition: focus on proteins and fats

Malnutrition is one of the consequences of Parkinson’s disease. It can lead to a loss of muscle mass, particularly among older people who less appreciate meat.

It is necessary to count between 1 g and 1.2 g of protein per kilo of body weight to spread throughout the day and favor animal proteins, better absorbed by the body. Claire Trémolières

And to specify: “For patients who do not like meat, you should think about cheese for example, by doubling, or even tripling, the usually recommended portion of 30 grams. »

And for vegetarians ? “It’s more complicated,” warns the dietitian. It’s necessary focus on legumes, but they are less well absorbed at the intestinal level. You therefore need a certain quantity: count 75 g raw per person, and you need them pair with cereals : rice, pasta…”.

In case of undernutritionwe must also think about enrich meals with lipids. “We can increase intake without increasing the volume on the plate,” reassures the dietitian. It is enough, for example, to add a knob of butter to the puree, a melted cheese to the soup, a tablespoon of oil directly to the plate…”.

Swallowing problems: be careful with certain foods

Some foods are more difficult to swallow than others. This is the case for semolina, rice, quinoa, foods with a crust such as bread, rusks, puff pastry, shortbread biscuits, others are hard or have a skin, which makes them unsuitable . Claire Trémolières

In the event of swallowing problems, it is therefore necessary to adapt the diet at risk in removing the skin, in cooking more foods, presenting them with a sauce to make them easier to swallow. “And when it becomes too dangerous, we have to switch to chopped, ground textures », advises the dietitian.

A fruit compound to prevent and treat Parkinson’s disease?

Researchers have found that a compound, the farinasolspresent naturally in herbs, berries and other fruits, would help prevent the onset of Parkinson’s and reverse brain damage linked to the disease. (study published in 2021 in the journal Science Translational Medecine, source 1). This research was carried out on mice. Mice fed the diet performed better on a strength and coordination test designed to detect changing symptoms of the disease. The study of brain tissue has made it possible to discover thata diet enriched with farnesol caused twice as many healthy dopamine neurons. The mice had 55% more protective proteins in their brains.

Parkinson’s patient: how to relieve mood disorders linked to the disease

L’anxiety, THE mood disordersdepression can be side effects of Parkinson’s disease or treatments.

Think about relaxing activities

Practicing yoga, sophrology or meditation has several benefits. Not only do these activities make it possible to limit sedentary lifestyle, which is important to combat constipation, but also to maintain social connections and alleviate anxiety. Claire Trémolières

Exercise to slow cognitive decline

By restarting the production of dopamine, a hormone secreted by certain neurons and involved in the control of motor skills, practicing physical activity helps to slow down the disease. THE benefits of movement have been confirmed by several studies. Thus, the one published in 2022 in the journal Neurology (source 2). Researchers found that people who did regular physical exercise (one to two hours of moderate exercise twice a week) for five years performed better on cognitive tests and had slower disease progression. By “physical activity,” the study means activities such as walking, gardening or dancingnot just sporty.

The France Parkinson association also emphasizes this point in a press release published for World Parkinson’s Day on April 11, 2024 (source 3). “Research has highlighted the importance of practicing sport and physical activity in general in treatment, and its key role in the secondary and tertiary prevention of Parkinson’s disease”,

“Physical activity whatever it may be, provided that it is practiced in a sufficiently sustained and regular manner, and that it mobilizes the entire body, contributes in particular to improving mobility, reducing muscle stiffness and better coordination of movements. Muscle strengthening exercises compensate for muscle weakness frequently associated with the disease”, continues the association, which also highlights the benefits of physiotherapy in the treatment of Parkinson’s, “a essential resource to combat motor disorders ».

Study shows tai chi reduces symptoms of Parkinson’s disease

A study published in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry confirmed the positive effect of tai chi on the symptoms of the disease (source 4). Researchers followed more than 330 Parkinson’s patients for more than five years. Only a portion practiced tai chi twice a week for one hour. The results are impressive: the illness of the people who were part of the tai chi group progressed more slowly than the others, who needed to increase their medication more. “A delay in progression of motor function and a continuous improvement of quality of life, sleep and cognition were found in the taï-chi group,” rejoice the researchers. THE Disease-related complications were also greatly reduced in the tai chi group: restless legs syndrome 7% versus 15.5%; hallucinations 0% versus 2%; dyskinesias 1.4% versus 7.5%. Fewer people who had practiced tai chi reported falls, dizziness or back pain.

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