PD and Diet
In a previous blog, I had cited a Lancet published study regarding dairy and health which recommended that these foods be part of a healthy diet in order to prevent “cardiovascular disease events.” However, I have recently come across a study (2007) which draws a radically different conclusion, specifically for Parkinson’s Disease patients. This study, which appeared in the American Journal of Epidemiology, May, 2007, concludes that there is “accumulating evidence from this and previous prospective studies that supports a positive association between dairy consumption and risk of Parkinson’s disease, particularly in men.” A recent Healthline.com entry (they’re a competitor of WebMD) published in September 2018, corroborates this finding and states similarly: “Dairy products have been linked to a risk of developing Parkinson’s … particularly in men.” But, but… but! From the publication, Frontiers in Neurology, September 5, 2014 comes this: “Despite clear-cut associations between milk intake and PD incidence, there is no rational explanation for milk being a risk factor for PD. Based on current knowledge, limiting the consumption of dairy products does not seem to be a reasonable strategy in the prevention of the development and progression of PD.”
So it seems we have diametrically opposite views from several valid sources. What to do? It’s perplexing, but perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised, because I think everyone has heard the expression that medicine is an ‘art and a science.’ It often is inexact and in error. Sometimes it takes time for the ‘true’ facts to emerge. In any case, the following may help guide and inform a discussion of diet for PD, and may prompt some questions to ask your neurologists. Two diet subjects will be briefly addressed: proteins (as relating to levodopa) and constipation, a common complaint in PD.
Levodopa is the main drug used to treat Parkinson’s Disease. (Sinemet is often prescribed; it is the brand name for the combination of levodopa and carbidopa.) It (i.e., levodopa) competes with protein-containing food for absorption into the gut. It is often recommended that PD patients consume the high protein-containing foods (meat, fish etc.) at the end of the day and thus avoid having their meds be, in effect, neutralized by these foods during the daytime.
Constipation, a fairly common problem in PD, can be mitigated by staying hydrated and consuming fiber-rich foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and cereals. No major debates about those guidelines. Healthline.com also recommends turmeric and yellow mustard.
After everything is considered, each PD patient should consult with his/her physician regarding a suitable safe diet. (And apologies for introducing this uncertainty and confusion about dairy products.) Lao Du