INTRODUCTION: ACTIONABLE MITIGATION OF SYMPTOMS
Over recent years, it has become very clear that there are a number of things which people with Parkinson's Disease (PwP) can proactively do, or not do, to mitigate their symptoms. Likewise, there are many lifestyle choices which are now known to aggravate and worsen the symptoms on a day-to-day basis. Longer term, these choices have been shown to either slow or increase the rate of progression. The evidence has come both from the science base and from the statistically relevant, aggregated shared real life experiences of people affected by PD around the world, via social media.
In a series of articles, I want to highlight several interesting actionable findings from the scientific literature, which I have not only personally implemented and found benefit my symptom reduction, but have also heard from other people with PD that have used to mitigate their symptoms too. I will not cover exercise or movement therapies herein, though, because their primary importance for keeping PD at bay is now so well established, and I have already written extensively on this myself, that I do not feel this needs underlining here.
DIET & NUTRITION: THE SCIENCE
Dietary and nutritional choices can slow or accelerate the rate of progression, as demonstrated by a recent study tracking the progress of symptoms of over 1000 people with PD (PwP),
"Foods associated with the reduced rate of PD progression included fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, nuts and seeds, nonfried fish, olive oil, wine, coconut oil, fresh herbs, and spices. Foods associated with more rapid PD progression include canned fruits and vegetables, diet and nondiet soda, fried foods, beef, ice cream, [generic] yogurt and cheese. Nutritional supplements coenzyme Q10 and fish oil were associated with reduced PD progression and iron supplementation was associated with faster progression"
for more information about this study and a profile of its lead author.
My Personal Experience
I have personally gone through a very prolonged elimination and re-introduction trial period of all the food I eat, as well as similarly trialling a vast array of different supplements. I found the impact of choices of food and nutritional supplement has a massive effect on my day-to-day symptoms, just as the above article predicts. Many, many other PwP have communicated to me similar experience, too. Indeed, I've ended up on a very restricted diet, which does resemble the Mediterranean style diet that the research supports.
I would therefore recommend anyone affected by PD to start their own search for their maximally beneficial/minimally impacting foods and nutritional supplements, as soon as possible. It makes a world difference. The end results are often highly personal, which is why I can't make any specific recommendations. For examples, I found I am very sensitive to Nightshades and other alkaloids, as well as having severe allergy to most "latex fruits", foodstuffs which, nevertheless, can be highly beneficial for other PwP, as described in the book by Glen Pettibone:
For me, these personal allergies/sensitivities result in significant increased pain and rigidity, and brain fog. The problem I initially had with identifying these is that there can be a delay period of 24 hours, and the outcomes can last up to nearly three days. So the connections between food and symptoms can be far from obvious. This is something to bear in mind when going through a similar process. In fact, I only became aware that issues like latex fruit and nightshades existed at all after playing with balloons as part of movement therapies, and could not understand why this was making me more rigid. I then found out that both my parents are latex allergic! So it was only then I began to find these associations with food.
For myself, I have found red meat to be my arch-nemesis, as the science predicts. Red meat has a very obvious, major and very fast acting negative impact on my symptoms. As does iron supplementation.
So while unfortunately, I am no in position to make specific recommendations, because indeed every PwP has different body chemistry, I do encourage everyone with PD to get started in improving their lot through their personally correct choice of foods and supplements and I do suggest the dietary and nutritional regimes arrived at in the scientific research highlighted above are a good place to start as any.