Nutrition is important in Parkinson's Disease. Why?
Nutrition is particularly important in Parkinson’s disease for a number of reasons:
- Parkinson’s causes the gut to slow down which affects absorption of medications and nutrients from food.
- People with this disease may have other medical conditions or swallowing problems that make them more vulnerable to a low appetite, weight loss and ultimately, malnutrition.
- If they eat poorly, their other medical issues such as Diabetes and Hypertension can worsen, which in turn makes it difficult to manage their Parkinson’s.
- One of the most important medication, Levodopa, competes with protein for absorption in the body. This makes eating protein foods at the right time very crucial.
- There is evidence that good nutrition promotes overall brain health. This may have some protective benefit as people with Parkinson’s may have a higher risk of getting dementia and stroke.
You may be wondering, why nutrition should be of special importance in Parkinson’s disease since there is no cure. The answer is that Parkinson’s impacts many aspects of someone's health. A combination of common issues below put someone suffering from Parkinson’s at a higher risk for malnutrition:
- a slowed gastrointestinal tract
- slowed stomach emptying
- swallowing problems
- loss of the sense of smell and taste
- nausea and poor appetite caused by medications
By paying attention to their diet, your loved one will feel better, ward off nutrition related symptoms and prevent hospitalization. As all of us are aware, hospital stays can be costly, traumatic and even painful for both the patient and their families.
By following good nutrition practices, they are more likely to stay as independent and healthy as possible. And as a carer, you will be better able to support your loved one through their disease.
- To consume appropriate energy and protein to prevent weight loss and muscle wasting or excessive weight gain due to lack of activity.
- To consume enough fibre and fluid to prevent constipation.
- To manage symptoms that impact nutritional intake.
>> Read on to find out what you can do as a carer of someone with Parkinson's.
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