Millions across the globe are affected with Parkinson’s disease and this affliction not only impacts the ones affected but also everyone who are close to them. It is an illness that affects the part of the brain that controls how we move our body. The worst part of it is, that it happens so slowly and progressively that one even don’t get to notice the progress. It is only when people develop shaky feelings in their hands, legs and find it a little difficult to talk, walk, sleep and even think, they get worried about it.
How does it affects the brain and does what to it?
Some of the brain cells produce dopamine – a chemical that is responsible for carrying message from the brain to the respective areas it is intended for. Like if you want to raise your hands or say you want to walk, dopamine carries the message from the brain to the particular nerve cell or cells that is responsible for these particular functions quickly.
As long as everything is normal and fine, everything is ok. Your response, actions and everything. But the moment you are affected with Parkinson’s the cells in the brain starts to die and so does the manufacture and release of dopamine. Slowly is diminishes and finally stops make it impossible for the brain to transmit messages.
It is said that you won’t even know about it till around more than 80 % of the cells have died and then realize.
Much before realization comes the slow symptoms like:
Parkinson’s is a movement disorder that builds up slowly, yet steadily. In some weakness, problems with walking, and muscles stiffness are being noticed as initial symptoms, whereas, some may have tremors in their hands and head.
As the disease further progresses some of the prominent symptoms are:
- Intense Tremors: The lips, arms, jaws, legs, head, tongue are all shaky when not being used.
- Walking and body balance problems: It gets difficult. The arms won’t move that freely as it used to or the legs are not able to make the steps that it used too, thereby, making walking and keeping stable a big problem.
- The muscles gets too rigid: The muscles ar any part of the body can get affected and often at times doctors mistake it with arthritis.
- It slows down all body movements: Anything just seems to be too difficult, rather impossible. The simplest of activity gets difficult.
What causes Parkinson?
There has been a lot of speculations around the world on it. Researchers are still hoping to discover the exact cause of Parkinson’s, but some relate the probable cause with genetics and some environmental factors.
The causes are still puzzling and hopefully we will be one day able to identify the root cause and cure it from the roots.
Diet and Parkinson’s
Since Parkinson’s id directly associated with the drop in dopamine in the body, efforts are being continuously made to find out ways to enhance its production through the food we eat. Other symptoms like that of dementia and confusion could also be improved through changes in the lifestyle and diet. High antioxidant foods are often recommended to cut back on the oxidative stress on the brain. Experts have made of list of foods that you should eat and avoid in case you have been affected with Parkinson’s:
- Foods high in Omega-3 content
Omega-3 is a great resource against dementia and other cognitive disorders and some of it is also seen in people with Parkinson’s. Confusion, forgetfulness and lack of other mental abilities are few of the symptoms of the diseases and omega-3 has been attributed to treat them to a great extent. Fatty fishes like salmon and oysters, soy beans, flax seeds and kidney beans are good sources of omega-3.
- Foods rich in anti-oxidants
Foods high in anti-oxidants helps reducing oxidative stress that propagates conditions like that of Parkinson’s and others. A diet based on plant based foods are good sources of antioxidants and are a great help. You can get a lot of antioxidants by eating: nuts like walnuts and pistachios, berries like blueberry and cranberry, nightshade vegetables like tomatoes, eggplants and peppers and leafy greens like spinach and kale.
- Counter Parkinson’s symptoms with
- Drinking enough water to stay hydrated.
- Eat foods rich in fiber to ease difficulties with constipation.
- Cut down of coffee and alcohol and also sugar and more importantly before bedtime as these may interrupt sleep.
- Increase your vitamin D intake through milk and milk products, eggs and fatty fishes to improve bone health.
- Get hands on with nuts and seeds to improve brain functioning?
Parkinson’s as degrades with times, is also a non-treatable disease. However, making adjustments in lifestyle and dietary preferences, the symptoms can be controlled. Basically treatment of Parkinson’s is all about managing symptoms. There are prescribed drugs that do helps with tremors, stiff muscles, and slow movements.
About the Author
Dietitian Ashu Gupta is the founder of Ashu Gupta’s Diet Clinic and an acclaimed dietician and nutritionist. Her desires to see people around her live, a life full of good health and happiness made her pursue a career in food, health and nutrition. She staunchly believes that healthy living is not about just eating plain and tasteless foods and following strict guidelines with a lot of restrictions, but it is about enjoying life to the fullest with certain lifestyle modifications and enjoying all the good foods.