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The Role of Diet in Parkinson’s Disease

Diet is a topic that many of us are interested in, whether we have Parkinson's or not. There is so much information out there it is really hard to know what people should be eating. This past December, there was a new article published describing the role of diet in Parkinson's disease. Let's take a look at what they found.

Diets that were focused on in this article.

1. Mediterranean diet

Multiple studies associate a Mediterranean diet with lower incidence of PD. The benefits of a Mediterranean diet are thought to come from the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The vitamins and nutrients, neuroprotective effects of omega-3s, and the high-fiber found in foods that follow a Mediterranean diet are thought to be why it is so helpful.

2. MIND diet

The MIND diet recommends specific foods to include that are thought to be good for our brains, and five unhealthy food items to limit.

The healthy items the MIND diet guidelines suggest include:

The unhealthy items, which are higher in saturated and trans fat, include:

  • Less than 5 servings a week of pastries and sweets

  • Less than 4 servings a week of red meat (including beef, pork, lamb, and products made from these meats)

  • Less than one serving a week of cheese and fried foods

  • Less than 1 tablespoon a day of butter/stick margarine

The MIND diet has been shown to reduce the incidence of PD and lower the severity of symptoms, although high quality studies have not been conducted.

3. Vegetarian and vegan diet

Not all vegetarian and vegan diets are the same. Many can be really heathy and full of plant foods, or they can involve highly processed foods. Those that are healthy are shown to reduce risk of developing PD, while unhealthy vegetarian and vegan diets increase the risk of PD. Again, there is very limited research involving this specific diet and PD.

4. Alternative health eating index (AHEI)

AHEI provides scores for foods based on their association with chronic disease risk. The higher the shore, the more healthy that food choice is. There has been many push backs around using this specific index when deciding on his food choices. Instead, it is recommended to incorporate parts of the diet into your system like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, legumes, fish, and healthy fats.

5. Ketogenic diet

A ketogenic diet is a high fat, low carb based diet. The diet results in cells using an alternate form of energy called ketone bodies. It is thought that this diet can help neurons survive in those with PD. A few recent trials found that a ketogenic diet can lead to worsening tremor and rigidity between one to four weeks after starting a ketogenic diet and improvements in UPDRS Part I and anxiety scores, word recall, memory, and voice quality.


There has been lots of information around various different supplements. B1, B6, B9, B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Omega-3s, and probiotics to name a few. The truth is, there is no high quality research definitively supporting the use of any of these supplements. There is some stronger evidence supporting probiotics and omega-3 fatty acids, but still not enough to make a generalized statement that everyone should be taking these supplements. If you are curious about any of these supplements or diets, talk with your neurologist. These studies also don't take into account of other health conditions you might have. Some supplements and diets may not be appropriate if you have other medical conditions.



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