Dietary Needs of Those with Parkinson’s

• Written by June Brown

Parkinson’s Disease affects around 145,000 people in the UK, with around one person being diagnosed every hour. The disorder often affects those over the age of 50 but younger people can also be diagnosed, so it’s good to know the signs and ways you can help.

As with any illness, there are some lifestyle changes to be made which can ease the symptoms and side effects. Take a look at some of the necessary dietary changes for those diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

What is Parkinson’s?

Parkinson’s is what’s known as a progressive neurological condition. This essentially means that it causes issues in the brain, and due to the nature of the condition and current lack of cure, it gets worse over time.  The underlying causes of the disease are unknown but the symptoms are caused by the death of a specific type of nerve cell in the brain. The cells produce a chemical called dopamine. Therefore, levels of this are depleted in those with Parkinson’s disease.

At present, it’s estimated that around 145,000 people in the UK have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

The main symptoms are:

  • Tremors.
  • Muscle stiffness and pain.
  • Slow movement.
  • Stress, depression and mental disorders.
  • Nausea, sickness or constipation.
  • Tiredness.
  • Speech changes.

Sadly, currently there is no cure. Older people who live alone may have to have a personal alarm at their home, in case of falls or symptoms flaring up and those who need help with daily tasks may need live-in care. Changes to the lifestyle, however, can help ease the symptoms. This includes some dietary changes, which could help cope with the major symptoms of Parkinson’s.

Feed the Body and Mind

Eating healthy is important for everyone, regardless of their condition. However, those with Parkinson’s can benefit from feeding the brain, heart and muscles. Diversifying your diet is key to ensuring that all food groups are covered and the body is strong enough to cope with symptoms of weakness, tiredness and fatigue.

Those with Parkinson’s should avoid eating too much protein as it may interfere with some types of medication. However, the addition of fish and dairy products will help provide the essential protein the brain needs.

You need to avoid too much salt and sugar due to the strain on the immune system and circulatory system. Remember to also add plenty of vegetables and pulses to aid digestion.

Foods Which Curb Side Effects

Headaches are often caused by muscle tension or dehydration, so add plenty of water to your diet. Green tea and ginger also soothe the throat and relieve colds or stuffy noses. Research also indicates that magnesium protects the brain from unwanted metals gaining entry and it is also known for helping with sleep, which many Parkinson’s sufferers struggle with.

Nausea is often a side-effect, whether it is from Parkinson’s itself or from medication. Avoiding greasy foods, sipping your drinks and waiting for the nausea to subside will help to prevent sickness and help you gain the nutrition you need.

All dietary preferences are different, so some trial and error is needed. The symptoms of tiredness and fatigue can be lessened by a boost of nutritional energy which will also prevent falls or accidents in the home.

VAT Exemption

Parkinson’s Disease is a medical condition which qualifies you for VAT Exemption on a personal alarm system. HMRC state that a product which has been “designed or adapted for a disability” qualifies for VAT exemption. This is good to know.

Personal Alarm Information

For more information about our personal alarm service please speak to our friendly advisors on 0800 999 0400. Alternatively, complete our contact us form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.


Editor’s Note: This article was updated on 21st June 2022 to reflect current information.

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