Improving Parkinson’s Disease Management through Nutrition: Insights from the American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) and Registered Dietitian Jessica Schroeder

Published on November 2, 2023, 11:11 am

Improving Parkinson’s Disease Management through Nutrition: Insights from the American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) and Registered Dietitian Jessica Schroeder

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a chronic neurological disorder that affects millions of people in the United States. Understanding the basics of PD, its impact on the brain, and its symptoms is vital for individuals living with this condition. The American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) aims to provide comprehensive resources and support to those affected by PD.

As the country’s largest grassroots Parkinson’s organization, APDA has been actively involved in funding scientific research since 1961. With an investment of over $51 million, APDA has contributed to significant breakthroughs in understanding and treating PD. By supporting ongoing research, APDA plays a crucial role in advancing our knowledge of this complex disease.

In addition to funding research, APDA relies on the community for support. Joining APDA allows individuals to contribute to the cause either through financial contributions or active participation in events and initiatives. By fostering a sense of community, APDA encourages collaboration and mutual support among those affected by PD.

One aspect that individuals can control when it comes to their health is their diet. Recently, registered dietitian nutritionist Jessica Schroeder was featured as a guest on “Dr. Gilbert Hosts” to discuss how different foods can positively influence the lives of individuals with PD. Jessica presented various nutritious food options, shared valuable diet tips, and offered recipes tailored to address common PD symptoms.

During the episode, Jessica addressed five common Parkinson’s symptoms: constipation, orthostatic hypotension (a sudden drop in blood pressure upon standing), unintended weight loss, managing protein intake while taking medications, and gastroparesis (delayed gastric emptying). For each symptom, she provided specific food recommendations and nutrition tips.

For constipation management, increasing water consumption and incorporating high-fiber foods into one’s diet are essential. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, oats, flaxseed, beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds are excellent sources of fiber. Additionally, magnesium-rich foods like green leafy vegetables, almonds, black beans, and yogurt can also aid in relieving constipation.

Orthostatic hypotension can be improved by increasing sodium intake. Consuming electrolyte drinks or incorporating sodium-containing foods into meals helps regulate blood pressure. Turkey chili was recommended as a healthy source of added sodium.

To address unintended weight loss, adding calories to the diet is crucial. Healthy sources of calories include olive oil, avocados, honey, maple syrup, and nuts. Jessica shared a recipe for a PB & J tortilla as an example of a calorie-dense meal option.

Managing protein intake while taking PD medications can be challenging due to the “protein effect” that may interfere with medication absorption. One strategy is to consume non-protein foods close to medication intake and reserve protein consumption for later in the day. A sample daily routine could involve scheduling medication alongside non-protein foods and saving protein-rich meals for later.

Gastroparesis symptoms can be alleviated by focusing on smaller meals that are easier to digest. Ground-up foods with added liquid help facilitate digestion. Jessica shared a pumpkin soup recipe that is both delicious and easy on the digestive system.

Throughout the episode, Jessica also addressed various other nutrition-related questions related to PD management. From water consumption recommendations to dietary supplements, she provided valuable insights into making informed food choices that support overall well-being.

It’s important to note that individual dietary needs may vary based on personal health conditions and preferences. Consulting with healthcare providers is essential when making any significant changes to one’s diet or establishing a tailored eating plan.

By integrating proper nutrition into their daily lives, individuals living with Parkinson’s disease can enhance their quality of life and manage symptoms more effectively. The information provided in this episode serves as a valuable resource for anyone seeking nutritional guidance for PD management.

For additional resources and information on Parkinson’s disease, interested individuals can visit the APDA website. The website features an extensive library of publications, webinars, and articles that cover a range of topics related to PD. APDA continues to remain committed to helping those with Parkinson’s live life to the fullest by providing support, education, and advocating for further research.

Remember, while diet plays a significant role in our health, it is crucial to consult healthcare professionals for personalized advice based on individual needs and medical conditions.