Parkinson's and your Gut Health
Updated: Oct 8, 2019
Many people believe neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s Disease (PD) are inevitable and the symptoms will continue to worsen no matter what but that is simply NOT TRUE.
Scientific evidence has found that most of neurodegeneration – where your neurons stop functioning – is irreversible. However, what you can do is strengthen and grow connections between your remaining neurons and still have a high quality of life.
The classic motor symptoms of PD include slowness, rigidity, shuffled gait, and tremor. However, there are many other symptoms that can indicate risk of PD. These symptoms include but are not limited to constipation, loss of smell, anxiety, depression, impaired cognition, etc.
The major symptom I want to focus on in this post is constipation. Evidence reveals PD starts in the gut 20 years before any of the aforementioned motor symptoms I mentioned ever appear. A classic finding in PD is lewy bodies in the brain. Researchers now have found patients who were diagnosed with PD in their 60's had lewy bodies in their gut ten years before that.
This further emphasizes the gut-brain connection. If your gut is compromised, it can lead to serious complications in the future like Parkinson’s. I have seen patients with PD who had SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) and once they healed their SIBO, their PD symptoms reversed. Of course, this is one case and does not represent the majority but it emphasizes the importance of getting to the root cause.
If the gut has anything to do with the brain’s function, then the foods we eat that go directly into our digestive system have to affect our brain health.
So what is the best diet to prevent Parkinson’s Disease? (To be clear, this is for preventing the progression of PD if you already have it and/or if you have a family history of PD)
1. High intake of fruits and vegetables
Sulfur-rich foods to increase glutathione production include brussels sprouts, garlic, onions, seafood (wildcaught)
Magnesium rich foods like dark leafy greens, avocados, nuts, and seeds
Anthocyanin rich foods like berries
The number of micronutrients vital to optimal gut and brain health would take too long to write in this post. But glutathione, magnesium, and anthocyanins are common deficiencies found in people with PD so addressing these deficiencies can help prevent exacerbation of PD. 6-9 cups of vegetables a day is ideal.
2. High intake of wild-caught low-mercury seafood
Quality seafood is high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosapentaenoic acid (DHA) increase neurite growth and enhance synaptogenesis. This means the EPA and DHA help increase the number of neuronal connections.
3. Low intake of red meat and dairy
These foods decrease uric acid and lower levels of uric acid have been associated with increased risk for PD.
4. Low intake of alcohol, sugar, and processed foods
All of these things lead to neuronal death which means they increase neurodegeneration.
I had the honor of learning from Dr. Laurie Mischley - one of the greats when it comes to preventing the progression of PD. Dr. Mischley has dedicated her life to early diagnosis and preventing the progression of PD. On average the typical patient with PD gets worse within a year but 80% of Dr. Mischley’s patients get better within a year!
I do my best to take her teachings to help patients dealing with PD prevent the progression of their disease. I do this by helping to heal the gut, addressing the root cause of their disease, and working with their neurologist to optimize their health.
If you or a loved one is dealing with PD, schedule a complimentary consult with me so we can see how we can work together to prevent the progression of PD!
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