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

 

Calcium & Vitamin D: What is their relationship to Parkinson’s (PD)?

Calcium and Vitamin D are nutrients that are an important part to a healthy diet, but do they play a role in PD management?

Studies have found that a deficiency in serum levels of Vitamin D is common among approximately half of individuals living with PD. In addition, lower levels of serum Vitamin D is consistent with an increased incidence of falls in those with and without PD. The correlation between lower Vitamin D and increased motor symptom severity has been one of the highest relational findings between Vitamin D and PD. However, while studies are seeing these associations, there is inconsistent evidence in the role Vitamin D supplementation plays in people with PD and symptom improvement.  In studies that have seen positive symptom management, still further research is needed to find the proper level of supplementation for optimal results; current studies are finding a bell curve among supplemental doses and outcomes, showing that over more isn’t always better.

There have been studies which found Vitamin D supplementation to improve non-motor symptoms such as depression and insomnia, but these studies were largely conducted in populations of individuals without PD. Additional research needs to be done to focus on the specific relationship between Vitamin D supplementation and PD.

Currently the evidence is inconclusive that supplementation will improve symptoms of PD, but the role of Vitamin D remains important in the absorption of Calcium for bone health so even if no additional benefits are seen in symptoms associated with PD, receiving adequate Vitamin D and Calcium can help keep bone strong and reduce the risk of fractures associated with falls.

Recommended amounts for Calcium intake:

  • Healthy adults between the ages of 19 and 50 should aim for 1000 milligrams (mg) calcium per day.
  • Older adults (especially women after menopause) need more calcium, because bones lose calcium as we age. After age 50, healthy adults should get 1,200 mg calcium per day.

Sources of Calcium include:

  • Milk and dairy products such as yogurt
  • Almonds
  • Greens ie: mustard, collard, and kale
  • Fortified foods such as orange juice and cereals
  • Supplements

Recommended amounts for Vitamin D intake:

  • Men and Women (19 – 70 years): 600 IU each day or 15 mcg each day.
  • Men and Women (71 years and older): 800 IU each day or 20 mcg each day.

Vitamin D can be obtained from various sources including:

  • Sunlight – 10 – 15 minutes several times per week on exposed arms and legs
  • Fatty fish such as rainbow trout and salmon
  • Mushrooms
  • Fortified foods such as milk and orange juice
  • Supplements

Always check with your doctor before adding a supplement to your regime to learn of any potential side effects. As with all other symptom management, results vary by person based on a variety of factors, so continue to do what works best for you.

If you are interested in helping further research between Osteoporosis (which directly correlates with Calcium & Vitamin D) & Parkinson’s,  Join the Study with the team at the Vanderbilt Movement Disorders Clinic.

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Wellness Matters – Immune Boosters

‘Tis the season – for colds, flu, and the continuation of the Covid-19 pandemic. By this point we all know to wash our hands, wear masks, and socially distance to help reduce the spread of germs, but what about boosting the immune system? Our immune system is designed to help prevent or limit infection within our body. When our immune system is working overtime without adequate support (i.e., proper nutrition) we are at a greater risk of one of those unwanted germs taking hold. By building a healthier immune system, we can help our bodies fight off many infections, and in cases where we still end up sick, having a healthier immune system can lend itself to lessening the severity of the illness.

There are a few easy ways you can start to boost your immune system as soon as today. These are not just tips for people with Parkinson’s but can benefit care partners, family, and everyone else to fight off infections this season.

Immune boosting properties can be found in various nutritional sources. These are listed below along with seasonal foods and ideas to help incorporate into your daily routine.

 

  • Vitamin A – found in carrots, broccoli, spinach, and sweet potatoes. Roasted carrots and broccoli tossed with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper are an excellent winter dinner side dish. Swap out white potatoes with baked sweet potatoes for added flavor and nutrition. Add some spinach to your salad or sauté into eggs with breakfast.
  • Vitamin C – is in citrus fruits such as oranges, tangerines (which come in several easy to peel varies such as Halos and Cuties), and lemon. Squeeze fresh lemon juice into hot tea or add orange wedges to any meal or snack.
  • Vitamin E – prevalent in nuts and avocados. Add sliced avocado or a handful of walnuts to any salad for an immune and flavor enhancing boost.
  • Zinc – found in nuts and poultry. Have a handful of almonds as a snack, or just keep adding walnuts to your spinach salad!
  • Protein – sometimes overlooked by fruits and vegetables, but adequate protein will help keep your immune system strong. Good sources of protein include zinc rich poultry, eggs, and again nuts. Remember that spinach you added to your breakfast eggs?
  • Hydration – in addition to consuming foods that are packed with nutrients, having adequate water intake is key. Being properly hydrated will help your body flush out toxins the immune system is working to fight off. Sometimes in the winter it can be harder to drink enough water, decaffeinated tea also works as a hydration source, just remember to add that lemon juice in!
  • Sleep – getting a good night’s sleep allows the body to rest and rebuild to be ready to fight the next day strong.

Tips:

  • Looking for one recipe to give you the most bang for your buck? How about homemade chicken soup, be sure to load it up with lots of carrots, add in some spinach, and use a low sodium broth, or a spinach salad with roasted chicken, tangerine wedges, walnuts, and avocado.
  • Check out frozen versions of vegetables such as broccoli and carrots to keep on hand and eliminate the risk of spoilage.

 

 

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