Eating healthy is a challenge in our fast paced world and even more so if we are sick! There is a wealth of information available about nutrition and you will find tons of advice on your diet on the Internet. When you have the added pressure of dealing with Parkinson’s disease it becomes more complex. Many times we can’t get clear answers to our nutrition questions about diet and Parkinson’s disease. What role does nutrition play in a Parkinson’s patient?
First, if you are not eating healthy you will not be able to uphold your energy level or feel good. You should always eat on a regular schedule and do not skip meals. Eat various foods from all the major food groups while maintaining a healthy weight. It is especially difficult for patients who hare beginning to have problems shopping, preparing food and eating or swallowing.
Parkinson’s disease patients find it especially important to maintain good bone health. You have an increased risk of fractures from falls and can be painful. Preserve good bone health. Your doctor can schedule you for a bone-density test and if it is low, there are medications that will help with this problem. Osteoporosis is caused by low bone-mineral density and your risk grows with each passing year. If you have a low body weight, are a smoker, drink alcohol to excess, have a limited exposure to sunlight, don’t do weight-bearing exercises or take in enough Vitamin D and calcium you are at risk!
People over 50 should take in 1500 mg of calcium and 800 IU of vitamin D each day. The richest source of calcium is milk and milk products but can be gained from foods that contain calcium. Yogurt, tofu, and orange juice are good sources of calcium. You can increase your Vitamin D by increasing your exposure to direct sunlight. If you live in an area that has limited sunlight, there are different supplements you can buy at your local grocery or drugstore.
Parkinson’s patients also have a concern with constipation. Changing your menu can treat this. Letting a constipation problem go untreated can lead to a blocked bowel and be potentially life threatening. Eating foods high in fiber such as whole grain breads, fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, legumes, bran cereals or a muffin is good for managing this problem naturally. You should also be drinking plenty of fluids and getting some form of exercise to remain regular with your bowel movements. You may need to see a doctor if the problem persists and lifestyle changes and laxatives are not effective.
Medications used for Parkinson’s disease can cause nutrition related side effects including poor appetite and nausea. These problems occur most often when the medication is new but some will have continuing problems with them. You do need to keep a healthy weight and these symptoms can be potentially dangerous to your health. Contact your doctor if you have recurring side effects with the drug that your doctor has provided.