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Nutritional Approach to Neurodegenerative Diseases

Neurology Solutions’ Video: How to Prepare a Protein Shake

By Karen Hales, Neurology Solutions Contributing Writer

Neurology Solutions Movement Disorders Center Medical Director Robert Izor, MD, MS, has created a short video demonstrating how to prepare a protein shake, including detailed step-by-step instructions, ingredients and serving recommendations. A neurology clinic based in Austin, Texas, that focuses on the care and treatment of movement disorders, Neurology Solutions recommends a nutritional approach to treating neurodegenerative disease.

Dr. Izor recommends his patients increase their intake of protein as well as Omega-3 fats and healthy amino acids. His practice’s comprehensive disease management approach incorporates diet, medication and supplemental nutrition as well as additional therapies as needed, including physical and occupational therapy. The practice also oversees patients utilizing advanced treatments for neurological disorders, such as Botox therapy, baclofen pump therapy and deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapy.

Supplemental Nutrition Tips for Neurodegenerative Disease

When managing a chronic condition, your doctor is likely to recommend nutritional supplements in the form of snacks, drinks (such as Ensure or Boost), or vitamins to eat between meals to help you increase your calories and get the right amount of nutrients every day. One easy way to ensure you are receiving important vitamins and essential nutrients in your diet is by supplementing with protein shakes that are packed with protein, amino acids and antioxidants.


Most Americans are deficient in protein. Neurology Solutions recommends women have at least 80-100 grams of protein daily, and men consume 100-120 grams daily. Protein helps boost your metabolism and also helps with depression, anxiety, attention and cognitive function. Keep track of your total protein consumed daily.

Amino Acids

Sulfur amino acids help your body’s metabolism by assisting in producing Glutathione. Glutathione assists the body in making neurotransmitters and with methylation, the process that helps to rid the body of toxins.


Omega-3s help reduce inflammation within the body. A diet rich in Omega-3s and healthy fats is recommended by health experts, including the American Heart Association and U.S.D.A. guidelines.

Preparing a Protein Shake

Success making this drink correctly helps improve compliance. The recipe uses purified water, Stevia as a sweetener, Mexican vanilla, ground cinnamon, chia seeds and a Pea Protein product, Naked Pea (or Milk Whey as an alternative).

Chia seeds, which are high in Omega-3 fats and fiber, must be pulverized in order for your body to process them correctly and obtain the benefits. Pea protein contains high levels of sulfur amino acids.

Protein Shake Instructions

This recipe uses a 72-oz. high-power Vitamix blender and makes four to five servings of protein shake.

Fill 72-oz. mixer to 30-oz. mark with purified water
Turn blender on low and add 2 tbsp. chia seeds
Cover and blend for 5 minutes to pulverize chia seeds

Add 1 tsp. Stevia, 1 tsp. vanilla and 1 tsp. cinnamon
Add water to 2/3 full
Blending on low, add 1/2-cup scoops of protein slowly for a total of 2.2 cups of protein
Top off with water and continue to blend approx. 3 minutes until mixture thickens

Each serving contains approximately 50 grams of protein.

Serving Your Protein Shake

Each serving should contain approximately 15-16 oz. of shake mixture. The shake can be served on its own over ice; blend with additional water to your preference.

Another option is to add cold-brewed coffee, regular coffee or flavored tea to the shake mixture and serve over ice. Pour 15 – 16 oz. of protein shake into a 32-oz. cup and add 4 oz. of cold brewed coffee concentrate or add 6-8 oz. regular coffee or 8-10 oz. flavored tea, plus water and ice, and stir.

Nutritional Supplements

Supplements or “nutraceuticals” and other alternative medicine approaches have the potential to significantly influence our health, sometimes for the better. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory supplement strategies can assist in impeding the symptoms of neurodegenerative disease, particularly as a Parkinson’s disease treatment.

Research indicates inflammation and free radical oxidative stress play major roles in the propagation of neurodegenerative diseases. A few supplements in particular have been found to mitigate damage caused by oxidative stress and/or reduce the activity of TNFa and other inflammatory cytokine pathways.

  • N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) is a precursor to glutathione, the body’s most important cellular antioxidant. NAC supplements have been shown to increase cellular glutathione levels.
  • Vitamins B12, B6 and folate are metabolic cofactors important for cellular metabolism and maintenance of all tissue cell types, but particularly important to nerve cells. Deficiencies in B12 or folate can raise homocysteine levels, which. have been associated with a higher risk for vascular disease and dementia.
  • B12 absorption from the intestine tends to diminish with age. B12 deficiency can damage the nervous system leading to neuropathy, myelopathy, and dementia.
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is an essential cofactor in normal cellular metabolism and cellular energy production. The use of ALA as a supplement is under investigation, and has demonstrated improvements in peripheral neuropathy, Alzheimer’s disease, and insulin-resistant type II diabetes.
  • Vitamin C and Vitamin E supplements can reverse symptoms caused by Vitamin C and E deficiencies.

Because “food supplements” do not undergo FDA testing for safety and efficacy, the benefits and risks of any given supplement or brand of supplement are much less certain than with regulated prescription medications. Supplements such as these should only be used under the supervision of a physician, preferably a movement disorders specialist.


Neurology Solutions is accepting new patients seeking a specialist in managing Parkinson’s disease, dystonia, essential tremor and age-related movement disorders. If you are seeking another opinion on diagnosing your condition or managing symptoms of a movement disorder, please contact Neurology Solutions or call 512-865-6310 to schedule an appointment.

Stay informed by frequenting Neurology Solutions’ blog, or join Neurology Solutions Movement Disorders Center’s email list to stay up to date on the latest in treatments and how to manage stress, stay healthy and maintain quality of life while living with dystonia, PD and other movement disorders.

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