April 5, 2013

A Menu of Good Foods for People with Parkinson's Disease

Here's an excellent list of foods recommended for people with Parkinson's, provided by the Northwest Parkinson's' Foundation. The menu accords with general dietary recommendations for everyone.

Water - Be sure to get your fluids to prevent dehydration and constipation.

Nuts- Almonds and Walnuts - Good source of protein, fiber, and healthy omega-3s!

Low fat yogurt
- High in calcium and protein, plus healthy probiotics to improve gastric flora and digestion. If swallowing pills is troublesome for you, consider taking them with yogurt.

Prunes - Not just for grandma. High in antioxidants, fiber, vitamin A and potassium. Effectively treats constipation.

Salmon, sardines and tuna - Packs a “big punch” for protein, plus high in heart-healthy omega-3s. Eating sardines with the bones adds calcium. Be careful how much tuna you eat due to mercury accumulation.

Berries - Pomegranates, cranberries, blueberries, blackberries. All high in antioxidants.

Broccoli - Your mom was right. Eat your broccoli. Source of antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C, calcium, iron and magnesium.

Green Tea - Great source of phytochemicals that serve as antioxidants, and a way to get your fluids, too. A source of anti-oxidants for people who prefer low or no calories.

Chocolate! - Cocoa, rich in flavinoids and other antioxidants, may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Dark chocolate is highest in cocoa (choose brands with >70% cocoa). Cocoa may also increase brain serotonin, a chemical that modulates and improves mood. Processed chocolate is high in fat and sugars, so beware. Moderation is key!

Nut butter - Consider almond butter over peanut butter as an energy booster and healthy source of fats, protein and fiber.

Ginger - Ginger has been used for centuries to treat nausea. Research is proving its value in treating motion sickness, and also nausea during chemotherapy. Use ginger root or candied ginger to insure you are getting the real product, because purity of supplements is not regulated.

Papaya - The tropical fruit is high in antioxidants.

Oatmeal - Easy to swallow, quick to prepare, high in fiber, low in calories. This food also promotes heart health and may reduce cholesterol.

Flax Seeds - Add to yogurt, salads, vegetables and cereal. Use flaxseed oil (or fish oil) for omega-3s. Effective constipation treatment.

Turmeric - This main curry ingredient not only spices up your food but also offers many potential benefits. Some refer to it as the anti-aging spice due to its powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies suggest it may benefit people with rheumatoid arthritis, high cholesterol, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. [I've written several post about these studies and particularly about curcumin, the active  ingredient in turmeric. Turmeric/curcumin in its natural state has trouble passing our blood/brain barrier. But it becomes much more effective in supplements available under the name "curcumin BCM-95." See http://bit.ly/JcQVPj]

Cranberry Juice - Cranberries are a good source of antioxidants. Tannins found in cranberries inhibit the attachment of E. coli (a common cause of bladder infections) to the bladder wall, reducing the risk of bladder infection, especially in women. Adding juices to diet helps low blood pressure problems seen in PD, so 100% cranberry juice is a good choice.

Lentils - Because these legumes provide carbohydrates and protein, they're a great addition to any meal. They're also a good source of fiber (so glucose is released slowly) and B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, calcium and copper. And they're low in fat and calories to boot. [Lentils are featured in dal bhat, the Nepali staple I enjoy at home thanks to my housemates, who are both excellent cooks.]

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