Parkinson's disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects voluntary movements such as walking, writing, swallowing and speaking. A multidisciplinary treatment is often required : it consists mainly of drug therapy associated with physical therapy. There are no known minerals, vitamins or nutriments that could prevent or treat this disease. However, modifying certain dietary habits can help alleviate drug adverse effects, increase patient comfort and ensure a balanced diet.
Establishing a meal-time routine
Eating meals on a regular schedule helps with food digestion and drug absorption. Consequently, patients should be encouraged to eat balanced meals at regular hours.
Constipation is a frequent symptom of Parkinson's disease. It can also be caused by the drugs as well as reduced physical activity. Increasing fibre and liquid intakes helps to control this unpleasant effect.
Preventing dry mouth
Dry mouth is a frequent side effect of antiparkinsonian drugs that causes discomfort and impairs swallowing. In such cases, food consistency becomes very important : soft and humid foods are easier to swallow. For this reason, choose soups, yogurt and sauces preferably. On the other hand, the diet should not solely include soft foods because the jaws need to be used. Avoid foods that tend to stick to the mouth, such as fresh bread, tomatoes and mashed potatoes.
Parkinson's disease impairs skills such as dexterity. Special objects for eating or drinking are available and should be used by patients who can no longer use common objects such as cups, forks, etc. Because Parkinson patients may find it difficult to cut their food, have someone cut it for them. Mealtimes can be very difficult for these patients. Try not to rush them; for example you can carry on your conversation even if you have already finished your meal.
Certain Parkinson patients experiment weight loss for different reasons. Reasons include increase energy expenditure as a result of the illness, taste and smell disorders, loss of appetite and difficulty swallowing.
The total caloric intake can therefore be insufficient. To prevent weight loss, experts recommend eating fatty and sugary foods : add cream or cheese to soups or butter on the vegetables. Honey, molasses and syrup can also be used to add a healthy dose of calories. It is also suggested that meals be presented in a way that is pleasing to the eye in an effort to stimulate appetite.
For patients who do not eat a balanced diet, vitamin supplement can be an option. Also, dietary supplements such as Ensurto experimente™ or Resource™ can be used if the dietary intake is insufficient. These supplements are easy to swallow and can be taken with a straw if the tremors are too severe.
Foods and drugs
Certain foods can affect the efficacy of certain drugs. Before making any modification to drug therapy, patients should always talk to their physician or pharmacist.
Proteins interfere with the absorption of levodopa (Sinemet™, Prolopa™)). Reducing the quantity of protein ingested could help increase the effect of this medication. Such changes however, should always be made in consultation with a nutritionist.
Taking iron supplements and certain antiparkinsonian drugs simultaneously can impair their efficacy : spacing these products apart is usually enough to prevent these interactions.
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The patient information leaflets are provided by Vigilance Santé Inc. This content is for information purposes only and does not in any manner whatsoever replace the opinion or advice of your health care professional. Always consult a health care professional before making a decision about your medication or treatment.