Understanding and Managing Cognitive Health in Parkinson’s Disease

When it comes to Parkinson’s Disease (PD), understanding and managing cognitive health is crucial for maintaining quality of life. During our recent Empowering Minds: Parkinson’s Mental Wellness for Patients, Families and Caregivers, Dr. Kaltra Dhima from Vanderbilt Medical Center, alongside MyLiveability Occupational Therapists Dr. Carlene Johnson OTD/OTR/L and Tori Vik shed light on the intricacies of cognition in PD and offered valuable strategies for maximizing long-term brain health.

What is Cognition?

Cognition, or “thinking,” encompasses various domains essential for daily functioning, including

  • memory
  • attention
  • thinking speed
  • language
  • visuospatial function
  • executive function

Cognitive decline can vary significantly, ranging from mild to severe.

  • No cognitive decline indicates no deviation from the baseline, which is normal for age.
  • Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) involves cognitive decline from baseline, beyond normal aging, with no significant impact on daily tasks.
  • Dementia, or Major Neurocognitive Disorder, signifies significant cognitive decline from baseline, affecting the ability to perform daily tasks independently.

Causes and Symptoms of Cognitive Changes

Cognitive changes in PD can be attributed to several factors. Changes in dopamine levels can cause mild cognitive changes, while the same brain changes responsible for motor symptoms also impact cognition. The presence of Lewy bodies is linked to significant cognitive changes and dementia. Additionally, stress, medications, and unmanaged depression can exacerbate cognitive issues.

Specific cognitive challenges in PD include difficulties with attention, such as multitasking, shifting focus, and completing complex tasks. Speed of mental processing slows down, resulting in delayed verbal responses and increased time to complete tasks. Executive functioning problems affect planning, task completion, and mental flexibility. Memory issues present challenges with routine tasks, recalling memories, and managing finances. Language changes involve struggles with word-finding, speaking under stress, and comprehension. Visuospatial difficulties include problems with depth perception and navigating in low light or complex environments.

Proactive Health Management

Engage with healthcare providers to address cognitive health effectively. Reviewing medications for their impact on cognitive function, such as sedatives, antihistamines, and opiates, is essential. Lab tests to check for deficiencies and health risks like B12, thiamine, and thyroid function are important. Managing risk factors, including blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, and kidney/liver health, is crucial. Addressing sleep apnea symptoms like breathing pauses, snoring, and daytime sleepiness can prevent further complications.

Early and accurate diagnosis is crucial for effective management. Testing options include cognitive screening, a quick assessment lasting a few minutes, and a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation, which takes 2-5 hours and involves interviews, standardized tests, and feedback sessions to identify causes and provide recommendations.

Research shows that newly diagnosed PD patients are about twice as likely to develop MCI. Within three to five years post-diagnosis, 20% to 57% of PD patients develop MCI. Additionally, 30% of PD patients may develop dementia at any given point, with the cumulative prevalence rising to over 75% after 8-10 years, and up to 83% after 20 years.

Lifestyle Modifications

Adopting lifestyle modifications can significantly impact cognitive health. Moderate alcohol consumption, avoiding smoking and substances, and following a healthy diet such as the Mediterranean or MIND diet are recommended. Staying physically active and engaging in cognitive and social activities, can help maintain cognitive function.

Managing Apathy and Anxiety

Low motivation, or apathy, is common in PD. Creating a daily schedule and setting weekly goals for activities provide structure. Focusing on small tasks and encouraging participation in hobbies and exercise are effective strategies. Ensuring adequate sleep and engaging in enjoyable physical activities are crucial for overall well-being. Anxiety in PD is manageable with techniques such as deep breathing, shifting focus, thinking grateful thoughts, repeating positive affirmations, and engaging the five senses. Progressive relaxation, which involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups, can also release tension.

Care Partner Strategies

Care partners play a crucial role in managing cognitive changes in PD. Providing prompts and reminders, such as using sticky notes and labels around the home, can be helpful. Offering help only when needed in mild to moderate stages and assisting with medication management are important strategies. Consistency in keeping frequently used items in the same place and exercising patience by allowing time for responses or word-finding can make a significant difference.

By understanding and addressing cognitive changes, individuals with Parkinson’s Disease can take proactive steps to maximize their long-term brain health and maintain their quality of life.

Resources

Parkinson’s Disease & Cognition: Maximizing Long-Term Brain Health (Dr Kaltra Dhima’s Presentation)

Empowering Minds: June 5, 2024 Webinar Recording

MyLiveability Handouts

 

 

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Unleashing the Power of Pickleball for those with Parkinson’s

Pickleball, a sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, has gained recognition for its numerous benefits, particularly for individuals dealing with Parkinson’s disease. Several advantages of the sport include:

  • Increased mobility
  • Enhanced balance and coordination
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Social interaction
  • Community support

Read on to learn about the creation of Pickleball Friday’s at the JCC.

Peter Obermeyer, Nashville Parkinson’s Support Group founder / volunteer and former racquetball enthusiast stated his journey with sports took an unexpected turn when an orthopedic specialist advised him to step away due to potential joint issues. However, the love for the game persisted, and when he discovered pickleball a new chapter began.

“Upon joining regular games at the Gordon Jewish Community Center (JCC), my initial apprehensions surfaced. Battling Parkinson’s, I felt a certain awkwardness that hindered my participation. Recognizing a need for inclusive play, I spearheaded an initiative to secure dedicated court time for individuals like me, coordinating with Harriet Shirley, the JCC “Fitness Manager” along with her assistant Diamond Battle. During this same time, John Tso and Robin Gordon were organizing a pickleball community for the Active With Parkinson’s Group (AWP) at the Sevier Park Community Center.

Then the Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s provided an unexpected gift for the first year, by providing instructor and coach, Bo Sacks.

The Pickleball group now thrives every Friday from 2:00 to 4:00 at the JCC, with the invaluable presence of Bo Sacks, a Senior Olympic winner and a top-ranked player in Tennessee.  Bo brings not just expertise, but a patient and compassionate coaching approach tailored to individual skill levels.

All are welcome to join the group, however RSVP’s are encouraged for efficient coordination, ensuring ample courts, paddles, and balls for all participants. If you are interested email Phillip Vest at phillip.vest@gmail.com. Non-members of the JCC can participate for a nominal fee of $11.00, which covers all Pickleball accessories.

This journey embodies the transformative power of pickleball, fostering camaraderie, skill development, and resilience in the face of Parkinson’s.  As we celebrate our second year, the progress witnessed among participants reflects the success of a collaborative vision. Join us in redefining possibilities and embracing the joy of pickleball for those with Parkinson’s.

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Unveiling the Comprehensive Nature of Parkinson’s Disease: Exploring Motor and Non-Motor Impairments

Parkinson disease symptomsImage by CarrotsMitHummus/Wikimedia
Parkinson disease symptoms
Image by CarrotsMitHummus/Wikimedia

 

 

Parkinson’s disease is a complex neurodegenerative disorder that not only affects motor functions but also manifests a range of non-motor symptoms, significantly impacting the daily lives of those living with the condition. In this blog post, we delve into the intricacies of both motor and non-motor impairments associated with Parkinson’s disease, shedding light on the various challenges that patients may face.

 

Motor Impairments

 

Bradykinesia, otherwise known as a slowness of movement, cause trouble with initiating and executing movements, making routine tasks more time-consuming and challenging.

Hypersalivation refers to an abnormal increase in the production of saliva beyond what is necessary for normal functioning. The precise mechanisms leading to hypersalivation are not fully understood, but it is believed to be associated with changes in the control and coordination of oral and facial muscles.

Postural Imbalance makes it difficult for individuals to maintain an upright stance. This instability increases the risk of falls and related injuries.

Tremors, involuntary rhythmic movements, are another prevalent motor symptom. They typically occur at rest and may affect various parts of the body, such as the hands, legs, or head.

Stiffness and resistance in the muscles can result in reduced range of motion, causing muscle rigidity.

Gait disturbances are common, and individuals may experience shuffling steps, reduced arm swing, and a general decline in walking ability.

Freezing episodes, where a person suddenly feels stuck and unable to move, can occur during walking or other motor activities, posing a significant challenge to daily functioning.

 

Non-Motor Impairments

 

Cognitive impairment can lead to issues with memory, attention, and executive functions.

Disruptions in sleep patterns, including insomnia, restless legs syndrome, and frequent awakenings, are common non-motor symptoms that impact the overall well-being of individuals with Parkinson’s.

Mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety, affect both the emotional and psychological aspects of a person’s life.

Digestive problems like constipation and difficulty swallowing are prevalent non-motor symptoms, adding to the overall burden of the disease.

Changes in sweat production and a diminished sense of smell are among the non-motor symptoms that may go unnoticed but contribute to the overall complexity of Parkinson’s disease.

Chronic pain, often related to stiffness and muscle rigidity, further impacting the individual’s quality of life.

 

Parkinson’s disease is a complicated condition that extends beyond its well-known motor symptoms. Understanding and addressing both motor and non-motor impairments is crucial for providing comprehensive care and improving the overall quality of life for individuals living with Parkinson’s. A holistic approach, involving healthcare professionals, caregivers, and support networks, is essential to manage the diverse challenges posed by this complex neurological disorder.

 

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Parkinson’s Disease and Vision: Navigating Common Visual Problems

As we grow older, it is normal to experience age-related eye problems. However, research has highlighted that visual symptoms are prevalent among individuals living with Parkinson’s Disease (PD). These issues often stem from alterations in the front part of the eye causing dryness, changes in the retina (responsible for sensing light), or changes in eye coordination.

People with Parkinson’s may experience various visual symptoms, including blurry vision, difficulty with color perception, processing visual information, dry eye, double vision, and even hallucinations. These symptoms can be managed with different approaches, including exercises and specialized glasses.

While individual visual symptoms may be mild, their cumulative effect can significantly disrupt daily life. Complications with color vision, contrast sensitivity, or motion perception can affect tasks like reading or walking down the stairs.

Routine eye exams are vital for everyone, even those with perfect eyesight. These evaluations aid in screening for eye diseases and preserving vision. For individuals with PD, these exams are doubly crucial. Vision loss in PD can lead to an increased risk of falls, fractures, mental health issues, and cognitive impairments. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends specific frequencies for eye exams based on age and risk factors such as diabetes or family history of eye conditions.

Seeking care from various eye care professionals, such as ophthalmologists, optometrists, or neuro-ophthalmologists, is essential. While routine eye exams are crucial, consulting a neuro-ophthalmologist may be necessary when symptoms persist or remain unexplained.

Conclusion

While age-related eye problems are common, those with Parkinson’s often face additional challenges. Regular eye exams, an understanding of the complexities of vision and PD, and seeking specialized care when needed can significantly improve the quality of life for individuals navigating visual symptoms alongside Parkinson’s Disease. Always consult eye care professionals for personalized guidance and treatments tailored to your unique needs and experiences.

 

For more information visit:

https://www.parkinson.org/understanding-parkinsons/non-movement-symptoms/vision

https://davisphinneyfoundation.org/parkinsons-and-vision/

 

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Empowering Minds

Empowering Minds: Parkinson’s Mental Wellness for Patients, Caregivers and Families.

The Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s recently hosted our inaugural Empowering Minds, sponsored by the Hirsch Legacy Fund. This event aimed to shed light on the multifaceted nature of Parkinson’s Disease, moving beyond the commonly known “movement disorder” stereotype and emphasizing its neurological complexity.

Dr. Pontone, a renowned doctor in the field of neurology, provided valuable insights during his presentation, challenging the prevailing perception of Parkinson’s Disease. He highlighted key takeaways that have the potential to change the way we approach this condition.

Early Intervention for Depression and Anxiety:

There is a correlation between depression symptoms and the onset of Parkinson’s Disease long before motor symptoms appear. Early diagnosis and treatment of depression and anxiety can potentially delay or even prevent the development of motor symptoms.

Quality of Life and Depression:

The impact of depression and anxiety have the greatest impact on health for individuals with Parkinson’s Disease even more than movement challenges.  Studies have shown that treating depression is one of the most significant ways to decrease disability and improve quality of life! This underscores the importance of addressing mental health as a crucial aspect of Parkinson’s care.

Physical Exercise and Brain Health:

The best evidence for protecting brain function in Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Dementia is aerobic exercise. This emphasizes the importance of incorporating exercise into daily routines.

The MIND Diet:

The MIND Diet is the best nutritional approach for individuals with Parkinson’s Disease. You may wish to refer to the PFP blog on The Mind Diet.

Social Interaction as a Prescription:

Social interaction is an essential part of Parkinson’s Disease management.  Dr. Pontone prescribes this for his patients to encourage them to socialize, connect and get involved.

Importance of Sleep:

Sleep is as important as diet and exercise.  Develop a bedtime routine and try not to take naps during the day. For suggestions to improve your sleep Dr. Pontone recommended the book Why We Sleep by Dr. Walker.

Another esteemed medical expert, Dr. Daniel Claassen from Vanderbilt Medical University shared a study illustrating the positive effects of physical activity, particularly Rock Steady Boxing, on sleep quality. This study involved participants from PFP support groups, highlighting the potential benefits of such programs for Parkinson’s patients.

Lastly, during the event, Dr. Pontone and Dr. Claassen addressed questions on topics like nightmares associated with antidepressants and the demoralizing feelings associated with Parkinson’s Disease, providing valuable insights into these challenging aspects of the condition.

 

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The Power of Strength Training for Parkinson’s Disease: Enhancing Health and Well-being

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a complex neurodegenerative disorder that affects millions worldwide. However, emerging literature is shedding light on a powerful ally in the battle against PD: strength training. Not only does this form of exercise improve physical strength and endurance, but it also holds the potential to make dopamine utilization more efficient, alleviate symptoms, and potentially slow down the progression of the disease. In this article, we delve into the benefits of strength training specifically tailored for PD, and explore ways to make this journey safe, enjoyable, and transformative.

Understanding the Benefits

The advantages of strength training extend far beyond bulging biceps. Research has shown that individuals diagnosed with PD often experience a decline in gross muscular strength, particularly in areas like the back and hip extensors. This weakness can be attributed to the postural changes that commonly occur as the disease advances. The tendency to hunch shoulders and lean forward weakens postural muscles, compromising balance and increasing the risk of falls.

This is where strength training steps in as a formidable solution. By engaging in regular strength training exercises, individuals with PD can bolster their strength, stability, and confidence. The exercises not only counteract the muscular weakness associated with PD but also promote proper posture, thereby mitigating the risk of falls. Additionally, strength training helps improve dynamic balance and cognitive functioning, contributing to an overall enhanced quality of life.

Unveiling the Science

The science behind the efficacy of strength training for PD is multifaceted. One intriguing aspect is its impact on dopamine metabolism. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter critical for movement control, is often deficient in individuals with PD. Engaging in strength training appears to make dopamine utilization in the brain more efficient, potentially leading to a reduction in motor symptoms.

Moreover, strength training has been associated with anti-inflammatory effects, promoting a healthier neuroenvironment. It also facilitates increased brain connectivity, which can counteract the neural degeneration characteristic of PD. Among various types of exercise, weight training stands out as particularly beneficial for individuals with PD, thanks to its potential to address muscle weakness and posture imbalances.

Embracing a Holistic Approach

While strength training takes center stage, it’s important to recognize that a comprehensive exercise regimen can yield even greater benefits for those with PD. Incorporating a variety of exercises ensures a holistic approach to managing the disease. Resistance training, cycling, aqua aerobics, dance, and specialized programs like Rock Steady Boxing can all play a crucial role in maintaining physical and cognitive well-being.

Embarking on the Journey

For those considering adding strength training to their PD management plan, there are numerous avenues to explore. Personal training, guided by fitness professionals experienced in working with PD patients, offers tailored guidance and supervision. Physical therapy can provide targeted exercises to address specific needs, while group training environments foster camaraderie and motivation.

The key is to start gradually and progress at a pace that suits your individual abilities. Always consult with your healthcare provider before beginning any new exercise regimen, especially if you have existing health conditions.

Conclusion

The realm of exercise, particularly strength training, holds remarkable potential for individuals living with Parkinson’s disease. By actively engaging in regular strength training exercises, individuals can not only increase their physical strength and stability but also potentially enhance dopamine utilization, alleviate symptoms, and slow disease progression. It’s a journey that intertwines science, perseverance, and hope, promising a brighter horizon for those navigating the challenges of Parkinson’s disease.

Resources

Northwestern Medicine: Feinberg School of Medicine

National Library of Medicine

American Academy of Neurology

 

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2023 Navigating the Parkinson’s Path Expo: Insights and Information for Improved Living

On Saturday, August 12 the Peterson Foundation for Parkinson’s welcomed nearly 150 members of the Middle Tennessee Parkinson’s community at the Gordon Jewish Community Center in Nashville for the Foundation’s 4th Annual Navigating the Parkinson’s Path, presented by Supernus. This day was a true testament to the power of community, bringing together individuals with Parkinson’s, caregivers, advocates, and experts.

The event started with a welcome from Founder, Brent Peterson and Board Member, Jay Lowenthal. They recognized and thanked all the PFP Board members and support group members in attendance. They acknowledged all of our sponsors, of whom without their support this event would not have been possible.

Dr. Jill M. Giordano Farmer began the day by discussing a comprehensive approach to treatment as Parkinson’s progresses. Dr. Farmer stressed that nothing happens in isolation within the brain, making a mixture of medicines essential for a holistic approach. She also highlighted the significance of social engagement and exercise, which impacts both motor and non-motor components of Parkinson’s disease.

In addition to medication, social engagement and exercise, Dr. Farmer stated hydration and proper nutrition is crucial for managing day-to-day symptoms, energy absorption of medications, and reducing constipation.

After a brief Rock Steady Boxing exercise break, facilitated by Colleen Bridges of Bridges for Parkinson’s, Dr. Thomas Davis provided valuable insights into disease modification and the role of alpha-synuclein in Parkinson’s disease. Disease-modifying therapies aim to slow the progression of Parkinson’s, providing hope for better long-term outcomes. Understanding alpha-synuclein and its contribution to the disease has led to new therapies and trials aimed at reducing its impact.

Following Dr. Davis’s presentation, Carrie Friddell from Peterson Voices led the attendees in vocal exercises and provided information on the benefits of vocal health for individuals living with Parkinson’s. At this time, attendees enjoyed some time to mingle with our sponsors and learn about the resources available to the Parkinson’s Community within Middle Tennessee.

The final presenter for the day was Dr. Daniel M. Corcos who shared the incredible benefits of resistance training, particularly its impact on individuals with Parkinson’s. While any form of exercise is beneficial, according to research studies weight training stands out as more advantageous, leading to a 7-point improvement in strength after a 24-month study. Additionally, resistance training enhances cognitive outcomes, preserves brain matter, and improves balance, posture, and gait.

As we continue this journey together, we encourage you to explore the resources shared during the event. Stay informed, engaged, and empowered, every step you take contributes to a better life with Parkinson’s.

Thank you for being part of our event, and we look forward to further sharing valuable insights to support our Parkinson’s community. Let’s navigate this path together, armed with knowledge, support, and a shared commitment to improved living.

RESOURCES FROM EVENT:

Jill Farmer Bio

Dr. Thomas Davis Bio 

Dr. Daniel Corcos Bio

Clinical Research Trials for Parkinsons

Can Exercise Slow Parkinson’s Disease Progression? with Daniel Corcos, PhD

Click here to view pictures from the event on our PFP Facebook Page

Women with Parkinson’s Support Group

Here at PFP we are passionate about providing a safe and nurturing space for individuals affected by Parkinson’s disease, and I would like to extend a warm invitation to you to join our Women’s with Parkinson’s Support Group.

We understand that living with Parkinson’s disease can present unique challenges and experiences for women. By coming together as a community of women facing similar journeys, we can foster an environment of understanding, support, and empowerment. Our support group aims to create a space where women can share their vents, concerns, triumphs, and advice, thus building meaningful connections and finding solace in the company of others who truly understand.

Here are some reasons why our Women’s w/ Parkinson’s Support Group can be an invaluable resource for you:

Tailored Support: The group is specifically designed to address the needs and experiences of women with Parkinson’s disease. We believe that by focusing on the unique aspects of women’s experiences, we can provide more targeted support and guidance.

Emotional Connection: Sharing your vents and concerns in a safe and empathetic environment can be immensely therapeutic. Our group provides a compassionate space where you can openly express your feelings and be met with understanding and encouragement.

Empowerment and Education: We regularly organize informative sessions and guest speaker events where we explore topics related to Parkinson’s disease management, research updates, and lifestyle strategies. These sessions are an opportunity to expand your knowledge, gain valuable insights, and feel empowered to take control of your Parkinson’s journey.

Building connections with others who are walking a similar path can be profoundly impactful. Our support group offers the chance to forge meaningful friendships, share advice, and create a strong network of support that extends beyond our meetings.

We warmly encourage you to attend our upcoming support group meeting via zoom on Thursday, July 20 at 10:00am. If you have any concerns or questions beforehand, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us via email or phone, which I will provide at the end of this message.

 

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Nutritional Superstars for Parkinson’s: The Best Fruits and Veggies

Living with Parkinson’s disease can be challenging, but making healthy dietary choices can have a positive impact on managing symptoms and improving overall well-being. In this blog post, we will explore some of the best fruits and vegetables that can be beneficial for individuals living with Parkinson’s disease.

A nutritious diet plays a crucial role in supporting brain health and potentially slowing down the progression of Parkinson’s disease. Here are three categories of fruits and vegetables that stand out for their potential benefits:

Berries:

When it comes to fruits, blueberries are particularly beneficial for individuals with Parkinson’s. These small, antioxidant-rich berries offer a host of advantages.

Blueberries are packed with anthocyanins, which are potent antioxidants known to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain. Parkinson’s disease involves the loss of dopamine-producing cells in the brain, leading to motor symptoms. The antioxidants in blueberries help protect these cells and potentially slow down the progression of the disease.

Furthermore, blueberries are rich in vitamins C and K, as well as fiber. These nutrients support the immune system, promote healthy digestion, and aid in maintaining cognitive function. Including a handful of blueberries in your daily diet can be a delightful and healthful way to support your journey with Parkinson’s.

Greens:

Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are nutritional powerhouses that offer numerous benefits for individuals living with Parkinson’s disease. These vibrant greens are loaded with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support brain health and overall well-being.

One key nutrient found in leafy greens is folate, a B-vitamin that helps maintain healthy brain function. Folate plays a vital role in the production of neurotransmitters, including dopamine, which is significantly depleted in Parkinson’s disease. By incorporating leafy greens into your meals, you can help support dopamine production and potentially alleviate some symptoms.

Additionally, leafy greens are excellent sources of antioxidants, including vitamin C and beta-carotene. These antioxidants help combat oxidative stress, which is believed to contribute to the progression of Parkinson’s. Including a variety of leafy greens in your diet can contribute to a well-rounded and nourishing approach to managing the disease.

Citrus:

Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and lemons not only add a burst of flavor to your meals but also provide valuable benefits for individuals living with Parkinson’s disease. These brightly colored fruits are renowned for their high vitamin C content and other beneficial compounds.

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that plays a crucial role in protecting brain cells from oxidative damage. It also aids in the absorption of iron, an important mineral that supports cognitive function. In Parkinson’s disease, oxidative stress and inflammation are known to contribute to the degeneration of dopamine-producing cells. Consuming citrus fruits regularly can help combat these detrimental effects.

Moreover, citrus fruits contain flavonoids, which are natural compounds known for their anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties. These compounds have been associated with a reduced risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and may help slow down its progression.

By incorporating a variety of citrus fruits into your diet, you can enjoy their refreshing flavors while supporting your brain health and overall well-being.

Maintaining a healthy diet is essential for individuals living with Parkinson’s disease. By incorporating fruits and vegetables like blueberries, leafy greens, and citrus fruits into your meals, you can provide your body with valuable antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrient powerhouses have the potential to protect brain cells, support dopamine production, reduce inflammation, and enhance overall well-being. Remember to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to create a personalized diet plan that best suits your specific needs and medical condition.

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The MIND Diet for Parkinson’s

Article Written By: Sarah Rink, MS,RD,LDN

As People with Parkinson’s and their Care Partners know, consistency and routine are key, and diet is no different. In this article we will look at the MIND diet and how it can benefit everyone, including People with Parkinson’s, with improved brain health.

The MIND Diet is the acronym for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay Diet. This diet has been shown to decrease inflammation in the brain including within the neurons and has slowed down brain aging by 7.5 years! The best results are seen with consistently following the guidelines over years with a 54% lower risk of decline, but it is never too late to implement these into your daily meals. Study participants with partial adherence still showed a 35% benefit! The MIND diet has been shown to lower rates of development of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and other dementias, and slowing the progression of signs in both of these conditions.

MIND DIET Guidelines:

Vegetables

Vegetables help reduce inflammation, provides fiber, and wide array of vitamins & minerals

  • At least one serving of dark green leafy vegetables per day (one serving = 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked)
    • Examples: Spinach, kale, collard, romaine
  • At least one other vegetable of ½ cup per day

Fruits & Berries

Focus on berries due to high levels of flavonoids which are antioxidants

  • At least 3 – 5 ½ cup servings per week
    • Examples: Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries (fresh or frozen in off season months)

Beans & Legumes

Good source of fiber & protein (remember these sources of protein will still affect uptake of carbidopa levodopa)

  • 3 servings of ½ cup per week
    • Examples: Chickpeas, lentils, hummus

Nuts/Seeds

Provide a good source of Vitamin E, protein, and healthy fats

  • 5 servings of 1 oz per week
    • Nuts/nut butter
  • Walnuts (a good source of Omega-3 and Magnesium)

Whole Grains

Provide fiber and various vitamins and minerals

  • 3 servings per day (one serving = 1/2 cup grain or 1 slice of bread)
    • Oatmeal, brown/wild rice, quinoa

Fish

Provides a good source of Omega-3 and protein

  • One serving per week (3-5 oz)
    • Salmon, tuna, cod (not fried)

Poultry

  • > 2 servings per week (3-5 oz)
    • Chicken, turkey (limit fried and skin)

Cooking Oil

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 2 tbsp per day

Foods to Limit

  • Saturated fats
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Fast/fried food (less than a serving per week)

In summary, load up on veggies, get plenty of berries, snack on nuts (but don’t overdo it), focus on whole grains, cook with olive oil (not vegetable oil), eat fish once per week, try to incorporate some vegetarian type meals with beans and/or legumes, and don’t fret if you miss something here or there you are still reaping tons of healthy benefits. It is important to remember consistency looks at the long haul, so if you don’t follow something exactly every day but overall, you are incorporating healthy habits, they still add up!

 

Additional Resources:

International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society: MIND and Mediterranean diets associated with later onset of Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s News Today: MIND diet delays Parkinson’s onset, research shows

Vancouver Coastal Heather Research Institute: MIND diet associated with delayed onset of Parkinson’s disease