More on Nutrition for People Living with Parkinson’s

good food

If you’ve noticed that your Out & About is a couple of days later than usual, that’s because it is! With more interesting things to share with you, I thought I’d aim to send it to you on Sunday/Monday.

I’m frequently asked if I know a local nutritionist who specializes in Parkinson’s to speak to groups. I don’t, but lately I’ve had lots of good information from experts in Parkinson’s and nutrition from around the world. We’ve created a webpage at to put all this all in one place.

Thank you to Diane Sherman, editor of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Parkinson’s Newsletter for today’s nutrition information! You’ll find information from 2 sources.

From the American Parkinson’s Disease Association (APDA)
From Dr. Rebecca Gilbert, APDA Vice President and Chief Scientific officer: “The role of nutrition – food and supplements – in the management of Parkinson’s disease”
Click here to read Part One of Dr. Gilbert’s blog: “What we know about avoiding particular foods & supplements for Parkinson’s.”

Click here to read Part Two of Dr. Gilbert’s blog: “What we know (and don’t know) about taking particular foods & supplements for PD.”

(Part Three of Dr. Gilbert’s blog, “What we know and don’t know about adhering to particular diets,” will be posted soon.)

Diane found the following information on the Parkinson Voice Project website.
*To download a printable version of the info below: Click here.

Nutritional Guidelines for People with PD
By Susan Imke, Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), Certified Gerontological Nurse Practitioner (GNP-C), Senior Health Solutions, 2018

• Parkinson disease (PD) slows gastric motility.
Chewing and swallowing are prolonged; stomach emptying is delayed, and food moves through the intestines more slowly than in someone who does not have PD.  Nutrients are better absorbed when small amounts are eaten frequently rather than three large meals per day.

• Most patients get more benefit from levodopa when taken on an empty stomach.
A tablet, taken prior to eating (even 15 minutes is beneficial) with 4-5 oz. non-dairy liquid, is “washed” through the stomach, into the small intestine where absorption  begins. Think of it as allowing levodopa a “head start” on absorption over the food about to be consumed.

• If levodopa causes nausea,
a small cracker or bite of fruit can be taken with doses required between meals. Pretzels are excellent, since they require no refrigeration. Crystallized ginger can be nibbled to offset nausea.

• Some people with PD get benefit from altering the amount or timing of protein intake to avoid interfering with levodopa absorption.
These are typically patients who experience significant on/off motor fluctuations and may take levodopa four or more times per day. To verify if protein is interfering with your L-dopa absorption, experiment with a vegetarian diet for 3 days to determine whether levodopa effect and motor function is significantly improved.

• Weight maintenance
can become a problem for some people who have PD. Frequent, small meals can help maintain optimal weight. Sometimes patients or caregivers are so diligent in limiting fat intake and worrying about protein restrictions, that they deprive themselves of much needed calories.

• Many dietitians recommend augmenting dietary intake with a daily vitamin and mineral supplement
as a nutritional “insurance policy”. Do not choose a mega-dose formula. Always take supplements with food.

Tip: Our natural sense of thirst diminishes with age.
Antiparkinson drugs also dry out the body.  It is important to drink water “by the clock”, as precisely as you take your medications. This allows better absorption of nutrients from foods as well as medications and reduces the risk of dehydration.

Hope to see you Out & About soon! Next week we have our Side by Side support groups in Arlington. Will we see you there? More information on our Side by Side web page.


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