More tips for a healthy diet for Parkinson’s

Basic Tips, Foods to Avoid with PD & Sample Meal Plan

By Karen Hales, Neurology Solutions Contributing Writer

We recently published an article on how a balanced diet high in antioxidants and low in fat such as the DASH diet is recommended as a healthy diet for Parkinson’s patients. Among other benefits, a healthy diet has been shown to improve heart health and fend off memory loss.

The DASH diet was twice named best diet by U.S. World News & Report, and was selected as Best Diet Overall, Best Diabetes Diet and Best Diet for Healthy Eating.

DASH followers generally consume meals that are high in fiber with generous amounts of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes, and limit salt and saturated fat intake.

Sounds relatively easy, right? Maybe not so much. Today we present Basic Tips to a Healthier Diet, Foods to Avoid with Parkinson’s and a downloadable Sample DASH Diet Meal Planner & Grocery List to achieve better nutrition.

Basic Tips to a Healthier Diet

  • Increase the amount of whole grains and foods high in fiber

Add vegetables and fruits wherever possible–both are high in fiber and antioxidants. Include cooked dried peas and beans (legumes), bran, cereals, nuts, rice, pasta, and fresh fruit in your diet. Toss in a handful of kale, spinach, broccoli or mushrooms to your casserole or pasta. Add a handful of blueberries, raspberries, almonds or walnuts to your cereal or yogurt. Try substituting white rice and enriched flour with whole grains, such as brown or wild rice and wheat or buckwheat pasta.

  • More healthy fats and Omega 3s, less saturated and trans fat

Make it a practice to include fatty fish such as fresh tuna, salmon, halibut and mackerel in your diet twice a week for healthy Omega 3s. Other foods rich in Omega 3s include almonds, kale, brussels sprouts, spinach, parsley, oatmeal, walnuts, peanut butter, and fortified juice, eggs and yogurt. Cut back on butter and oil in your cooking or substitute walnut oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil or low-sodium broth.

  • Reduce your salt use

Consider more spices and fresh herbs, less salt. When cooking, add flavor with aromatic vegetables like onions, peppers and garlic, citrus juices and fruit zest, herbs such as rosemary, parsley and cilantro, and spices including cinnamon, cumin, ginger, black pepper and nutmeg. Buy low- or reduced-sodium broth, soups and vegetables.

Give it time – your palate may take a while to get used to tasting your food rather than the salt you’re used to adding to your meal.

  • Limit the amount of sugar

Fresh fruits, sorbets, whole grain muffins, yogurt and nuts are all healthy alternatives to satisfy your sugar craving. For a sweetener, honey is a healthier option than sugar.

DASH Meal Planner_Grocery List_Neurology Solutions Movement Disorders Center

Foods to Avoid with Parkinson’s

The medication Levodopa is a protein building block, so it competes with other proteins for absorption. Limiting your protein intake early in the day and taking medication 30 minutes before or 60 minutes after a meal allows the drug to reach the small intestine and absorb faster. Levodopa should be taken with 4-5 ounces of water to increase absorption. Consider saving your meat, fish and cheese servings for dinner and having vegetable and carbohydrate meals at breakfast and lunch.

Fava beans contain a natural form of Levodopa and, especially in large doses, may cause problems for some individuals with PD. Kidney beans, split-peas, navy beans and lentils are safe alternatives to fava beans that provide rich amounts of fiber, which can help those experiencing constipation.

Low blood pressure is a symptom of Parkinson’s and a side effect of some medications. Raising fluid and salt intake will boost blood pressure, but talk with your physician, especially if you have heart or kidney problems. Increase cold fluids such as water and Gatorade and limit alcohol, caffeine and hot liquids, which encourage dehydration and low blood pressure. Eating frequent, small meals can also smooth blood pressure fluctuations.

DASH Resources

Click link for a good introduction to eating well with Parkinson’s.

The National Institutes of Health offers a Guide to Lowering Blood Pressure with an emphasis on DASH diet solutions starting on page 8 as well as a great selection of Heart Healthy Recipes.

The Mayo Clinic also is a helpful resource for Sample menus and other nutritional tips.

Stay Connected

If you are seeking another opinion on managing your symptoms from Parkinson’s disease, dystonia, essential tremor or an age-related movement disorder, call 512-865-6310 to make an appointment with Neurology Solutions.

Comment and share below, and stay informed by frequenting Neurology Solutions’ blog, or join Neurology Solutions Movement Disorders Center’s e-mail 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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