There is no specific recommended diet for people with Parkinson's; however, choosing to eat healthy can make a difference in how you feel overall, especially when it comes to providing energy or optimizing medications.
It is important to consult with your physician or a dietician prior to implementing any diet plan to ensure it doesn't interfere with current medications or conditions outside of Parkinson's. Remember the importance of other potential food allergies, such as avoiding gluten, dairy or eggs if you have had digestive issues in the past. Regardless of a PD diagnosis, you may have other limitations based on other dietary restrictions that need to be incorporated into your overall nutritional diet plan.
There has been a good bit of research and talk associated with the MIND Diet. The MIND diet is designed to prevent dementia and loss of brain function as people age. It combines the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet to create a dietary pattern that focuses specifically on brain health.
Many experts regard the Mediterranean and Dash diets as some of the healthiest. Research has shown they can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and several other diseases. But researchers wanted to create a diet specifically to help improve brain function and prevent dementia. To do this, the combined foods from the Mediterranean and DASH diets that have been shown to benefit brain health.
The MIND diet encourages its followers to eat berries but does not emphasize consuming fruit in general. Currently, there are no set guidelines for how to follow the MIND diet. Simply eat more of the 10 foods the diet encourages you to eat and less of the five foods the diet recommends you limit.
10 Foods to Eat on the MIND Diet
Green, leafy vegetables: Aim for six or more servings per week. This includes kale, spinach, cooked greens, and salads.
All other vegetables: Try to eat another vegetable in addition to the green leafy vegetables at least once a day. It is best to choose non-starchy vegetables because they have a lot of nutrients with a low number of calories.
Berries: Eat berries at least twice a week. Although the published research only includes strawberries, you should also consume other berries like blue berries, raspberries, and blackberries for their antioxidant benefits.
Nuts: Try to get five servings of nuts or more each week. The creators of the MIND diet don't specify what kind of nuts to consume, but it is probably best to vary the type of nuts you eat to obtain a variety of nutrients.
Olive Oil: Use Olive oil as your main cooking oil.
Whole grains: Aim for at least three servings daily. Choose whole grains like oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta and 100% whole-wheat bread.
Fish: Eat fish at least once a week. It is best to choose fatty fish like salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, and mackerel for their high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
Beans: Include beans in at least four meals every week. This includes all beans, lentils, and soybeans.
Poultry: Try to eat chicken or turkey at least twice a week.
Wine: Aim for no more than one glass daily. Both red and white wine may benefit the brain. However, much research has focused on the red wine compound resveratrol, which may help protect against Alzheimer's disease.
Remember that consuming proteins at certain times of the day could greatly impact medication absorption. Learn more in the Protein section.
Five Foods to Avoid on the MIND Diet:
The mind diet recommends limiting the following five foods:
Butter and margarine: Try to eat less than 1 tablespoon daily. Instead, try using olive oil as your primary cooking fat, and dipping your bread in olive oil with herbs.
Cheese: The MIND diet recommends limiting your cheese consumption to less than once per week (this also helps with constipation).
Red Meat: Aim for no more than three servings each week. This includes all beef, pork, lamb, and products made from these meats. Eating these meats later in the day can also help optimize medication.
Fried Food: The MIND diet highly discourages fried food, especially the kind from fast-food restaurants. Limit your consumption to less than once per week.
Pastries and Sweets: This includes most of the processed junk food and desserts you can think of: ice cream, cookies, brownies, snack cakes, donuts, candy and more. Try to limit these to no more than four times a week.
Researchers encourage limiting your consumption of these foods because they contain saturated fats. The most important thing to remember is that moderation is key. It's also ok to treat yourself with the foods you love based on your definition of quality of life.
You can choose to consult a certified dietitian or nutritionist.
In general, it's best to get vitamins and minerals from the food you eat rather than through supplements. And while some research shows that supplemental Vitamin D and calcium may be beneficial in promoting bone health, if bone thinning is an issue for you, there's much debate about that as well. The truth is, no supplements have been proven beneficial to Parkinson's.
Supplements or alternative medication compounds are not regulated by the FDA, meaning there is no external, unified oversight of the quality or consistency of the supplements you may find on the store shelf. Just because something is an "herbal preparation," or "natural compound" does not necessarily mean it is any safer than prescription medication. If you wish to take supplements, look for products that carry USP (United States Pharmacopeia) or similar verification for your home country. This independent laboratory tests the purity, potency, and bioavailability of products. In effect, this test ensures that what is on the bottle, is indeed, what is contained in the pill or supplement. Otherwise, the actual purity and strength of the substance might differ from what the bottle label claims. Consumer Lab tests different brand names and can provide you with similar information.
For your safety, always discuss potential interactions between supplements and your prescribed medication with your pharmacists or physician.
Food Delivery Services
COVID helped to prompt many grocery stores to start delivering or providing easy pick-up services by shopping online. There are many advantages to being able to do this for those that have limited time and availability to cruise through a store. However, getting out to go to the stores is still a great option to get exercise and socially connect with others.
Most stores like Wal-Mart and Publix have simple aps that you can download to your phone. The more you use the aps to shop the easier it gets. Mostly because they save your items that are your staples for an easy way to add them to your cart. If you aren't tech-savvy, many can show you how to do this from your smart phone or tablet if you have one. Once you have chosen your items, you add your delivery address and payment method. Depending on volume, you may be able to get your items that day.
Meal Delivery Kits
You can also consider beginning a subscription with a prepared meal delivery service. For some, meal kits are the way to go for people who still like to cook, but don't like the planning, prep, and grocery shopping. Each service has various levels of prep. Many will offer free or discounted trials. It may take trying a few to learn which ones you like the most. Some carry heavier prep than others. All come with just the right amount of ingredients to avoid waste, and the directions needed to prepare. Some even offer oven-ready meal kits which require very little prep. These meals come right to your door.
Each have their own advantages and disadvantages. Prices vary, and you might find that some are more to your liking when it comes to flavors and choice. Here is a list of some of the award winners:
Fresh n' Lean: Best overall prepared meal delivery services
Home Chef: Best that you still have to cook a little
Pete's Paleo: Best for clean eating
Mosaic Foods: Best for vegetarians
Veestro: Best for vegans
Daily Harvest: Quick Breakfasts and Lunches
Trifect Nutrition: Eating Organic
Home Bistro: Gourmet Food
Freshly: Comfort food with a healthy edge
Another great way to offset the needs of preparing for meals even if it is just to take one or two nights off a week, is to connect with your Circle of Care or Church Community to establish a Meal Train. A meal train is the process of organizing meals by matching the special needs and requests of the recipient with the availability and abilities to meal givers.
Scheduling is easy and free. You or a member of your care team can setup an interactive online calendar. The organizer then emails out options where your circle of care can sign up to deliver your meals. It provides opportunities for meal deliveries, gives alerts and reminders, and even gives participants an opportunity for making financial contributions. You also can list meal preferences and allergies.
Now, it even gives the opportunity to schedule more than just meals. You can use this as your central location for your Circle of Care to communicate with one another to also schedule housework, transportation, visitors and more. There is a one-time fee of $10 to start a page. It's also a great way to organize a potluck. Missing your friends? Schedule a potluck and host them at your home. Let them bring the food to you and have a time for fellowship.
Community Food Programs
The Elderly Nutrition Program sponsored by Alabama Area Agencies on Aging provides nutritious meals in either a congregate setting such as a senior center or in a home setting where food is delivered directly to your home if you can't get out.
You do not have to be 60 years or older to be eligible for nutritious meals. Spouses and participants, regardless of age may be eligible for meals as well as persons with a disability residing with an eligible participant. Individuals with a disability under the age of 60 living in public, low-income housing where a senior center is located are also eligible for the program.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is administered by the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR). Your Area Agency on Aging partners with DHR to help individuals of any age apply for this benefit. SNAP helps individuals purchase nutritious food by providing monthly benefits to eligible households.
The Alabama Elderly Simplified Application Project (AESAP) is designed to simplify the food assistance application process for households of those aged 60 or older with no earned income. There is a simple two-page application, and the process can be completed over the phone. If eligible, individuals can be certified for three years.
The MIND Diet: A Detailed Guide for Beginners. Healthline. July 30, 2017. Keith Pearson, Phd, RD. healthline.com/nutrition/mid-diet. Accessed 9/5/2022.
The Davis Phinney Foundation. Parkinson's Nutrition Q&A. Parkinson's Treatments and Therapies. Every Victory Counts. Page 192. "Manual." Sixth Edition, 2021.