National Nutrition Month: Why it Matters to People with PD

nlwinter16_fruitbasket_b&wWhat should you know about nutrition in Parkinson’s disease (PD)? It is important for all of us to maintain a healthy diet to feel our best and stay energized. This is especially true for people living with PD.

As March is National Nutrition Month, our team wanted to shed light on the importance of nutrition in PD. According to Heather Zwickey, Ph.D., who recently led PDF’s webinar on, “Nutrition and PD,” developing good nutritional habits can help people to live better with the disease. How?

First, she says that changing nutritional habits may help to ease some Parkinson’s disease symptoms including constipation, fatigue and sleep difficulties and weight loss/gain as related to the disease. For example, increasing your fluid intake and eating more fiber can help with constipation or other gastrointestinal issues associated with Parkinson’s disease.

Second, diet can impact PD medications. Taking medications at mealtime, for example, can affect how quickly they are absorbed into the body. Some people who take carbidopa-levodopa (Sinemet®), may find that protein-rich foods (meat, fish or eggs) lengthen the time it takes for the medicine to kick in, or make the medication less effective. (Check in with your own doctor about these issues).

Now that we know a bit about how nutrition impacts Parkinson’s, what can you do?

Here are a few sample tips:

  • Include fiber in your diet (e.g., fruits, vegetables, whole grains)
  • Add nuts to your diet (see Dr. Zwickey’s webinar for more detail)
  • Limit your sugar intake (it can contribute to fatigue and sleep problems)
  • If you find it hard to adjust your dietary habits, make small changes over time
  • Adjust nutritional priorities for your situation and progression of disease

Learn More
Do you want to learn more about nutrition in Parkinson’s? Check out our resources listed below and contact our HelpLine at (800) 457-6676 or, Monday through Friday, from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM ET, with any additional questions.

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