Parkinson’s disease (PD) is one of the most prevalent diseases in older people. Genetics and some environmental factors may be to blame for this neurodegenerative disease. Environmental factors include nutrition, which has a major role in protecting the brain and preventing neurodegeneration.
This means that our diet has a lot to do with the development of the disease as we grow older and it is also important to know that there are some nutrients that can exacerbate the progression of PD.
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic movement disorder that is triggered by death of neurons or nerve cells. While there is still no clear cause of the neurons’ deaths, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences discovered that one protein known as alpha-synuclein protein that aggregates in the nerve cells called Lewy bodies form and this is a considered PD hallmark.
But here’s the good news
While protein is a common nutrient that can be found in many foods in our diet, a study funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) has found a way to decrease the aggregation of alpha-synuclein in the brain. Another protein associated with the progression of Parkinson’s disease is lymphocyte-activation gene 3 (LAG3), which participates in the transmission of the alpha-synuclein from one cell to another. LAG3 provided a new route to at least slow down the progress of the disease in patients.
The identification of the other protein, LAG3, in the transmission of alpha-synuclein in the neurons helped the researchers understand the mechanism of the disease, as well as a potential target for treating it. Antibodies are now being studied to determine if they can block the LAG3 activities.
In the meantime, proper nutrition is still one of the best ways to delay the progression of the disease:
1. Avoid dairy products as much as possible.
Consumption of dairy products increases PD risk and hastens progression, especially in men.
2. Eat fruits and vegetables rich in phytochemicals.
Phytochemicals help decrease decline on how our nerves function and other problems as we age.
3. Consume foods rich in antioxidants.
These includes vitamin A, C, E, and riboflavin, a type of vitamin B. These nutrients are detected to be in low levels in many PD patients.
Other foods to continue eating are those that are rich in omega-3 (DHA), which has protective effects for the brain. Soy is also an ideal part of a healthy diet in PD patients as it appears to be neuoroprotective in some studies.