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Parkinsons Disease

Parkinsons Disease (PD)


Nutritional wellness company providing information on treating Parkinsons disease.

Parkinsons disease (PD) is a progressive disorder of the central nervous system affecting more than 1.5 million people in the United States. Clinically, the disease is characterized by a decrease in spontaneous movements, gait difficulty, postural instability, rigidity and tremor. PD is caused by the degeneration of the neurons in the substantia nigra of the brain, resulting in decreased dopamine availability. An English physician, Dr. James Parkinson, who called it "Shaking Palsy", originally described the major symptoms of the disease in 1817. However, it was not until the 1960's that pathological and biochemical changes in the brain of patients were identified, opening the way to the first effective medication for the disease.

PD does not discriminate between genders-men and women alike are affected. Even though there is an increase of patients of younger age acquiring PD, the frequency of the disease is considerably higher in individuals over 60 years of age. Increased life expectancy of today's world means an increasing number of people will bear the burden of Parkinsons disease.

Treatment for Parkinsons Disease
Administration of the drug levodopa has been the standard treatment for Parkinsons disease. Levodopa is converted to dopamine in the brain, which replaces the same substance not present in sufficient amounts in Parkinsons patients. However, treatment with levodopa does not prevent the progressive changes of the brain typical of PD. The drug may also produce side effects in some people due to its change to dopamine before reaching the brain. The simultaneous administration with levodopa of substances inhibiting this change allows a higher concentration of levodopa to reach the brain and also considerably decreases the side effects. Some new drugs have recently been approved offering a wider choice of medications for the patient, while others are under investigation in this country and overseas in an effort to obtain better therapeutic results with fewer side effects.

Nutrition for Parkinsons Disease
A recent Parkinsons disease study conducted at UC-San Diego; featured on the NBC Nightly News and MSNBC, found that coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) supplementation may help slow the progression of Parkinsons disease. Is this significant for ALS and/or other neurological disorders? Perhaps! These patients may benefit from some of the discoveries of this study as well. Generally, existing medical and pharmaceutical-based therapies may decrease symptoms but are not directly linked to the underlying disease mechanisms. The significance of this latest study is that it has found that CoQ10 is involved in the disease process. Specifically, CoQ10 may protect nerve cells and, thus, prevent cell death that characterizes Parkinsons and other neurological disorders.

The study involved 80 early-stage Parkinsons patients. Half consumed varying amounts of CoQ10 and half took placebos for up to 16 months. Doses of CoQ10 were 300 milligrams, 600 milligrams or 1,200 milligrams, respectively. Symptom progression was monitored for the duration of the study and results showed that by the eighth month, the 23 patients on the highest dose (1,200 mg) showed significantly less impairment than the others. In fact, these 23 patients had 44 percent less decline in mental function, movement and ability to perform daily living tasks than the placebo group. Past research had unveiled the link between damaged nerve cells and neurological disease. In these damaged cells, the mitochondria ("power-house" of each cell) are impaired--CoQ10 is thought to prevent deterioration of mitochondria function. Also, previous research found that CoQ10 levels in the body were reduced in these patients. This led to the theory that CoQ10 supplementation might help protect nerve cells, slow the progression of the disease and improve quality of life. Further studies are currently underway and the focus is on even higher levels of CoQ10.

A number of disease centers have been studying the effects of Coenzyme Q-10 on patients for decades and the results of these studies have been extensively published. They indicate that CoQ10 supplementation delays the disabling effects of a particular disease (including ALS) longer than those in control groups (who did not use CoQ10).

All this information does not mean CoQ10 is a cure; however, it may slow the progression of neuronal cell death. Many people, understandably, have questions about whether to take CoQ10, and if so, the kind and amount to take, and whether any adverse side effects are possible.

The DASH Diet for Parkinsons Disease
Fluid retention (edema), weight gain (as a result of edema) and hypertension (high blood pressure) are all conditions that are very often present in individuals with Parkinsons disease. These conditions are all associated with an increase in heart attack and stroke risk. Medications exist for the treatment of hypertension, which can, in turn, decrease edema. However, patients with Parkinsons disease do not desire the side effects that accompany these medications, especially when these individuals are already consuming multiple medications.

Modifying your diet is one effective way to combat the fluid retention, weight gain and hypertension. The "DASH Diet"-Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension-was developed and tested by researchers in a study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), with additional support by the National Center for Research Resources and the Office of Research on Minority Health, all units of the National Institutes of Health. The DASH Diet's final results appear in the April 17, 1997, issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

In this diet, salt is reduced while vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products are increased in the daily menu. It also is low in cholesterol, high in dietary fiber, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, and moderately high in protein. Participants were able to lower blood pressure and reduce or even eliminate the need for anti-hypertensive medications.

The DASH Diet - Based on 2000 Calories/Day
Food Groups Daily Servings Serving Size Examples Significance
Whole grains/grain products 7-8 -1 slice bread
-½ C dry cereal
-½ C cooked rice Whole wheat bread, pasta, pita bread, bagel, oatmeal Source of energy and fiber
Vegetables 4-5 -1 C raw vegetables
-½ C cooked vegetable
-6 oz vegetable juice Tomatoes, carrots, peas, squash, broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes, beans Rich sources of potassium, magnesium and fiber
Fruits 4-5 -6 oz fruit juice
-1 medium fruit
-1/2 C fresh fruit
-1/4 C dried fruit Apricots, bananas, dates, oranges, orange juice, grapefruit, mangoes, melon, prunes, strawberries Vital sources of potassium, magnesium and fiber
Lowfat or nonfat dairy foods 2-3 -8 oz milk
-1C yogurt
-1 ½ oz cheese Skim or 1% milk, nonfat or lowfat yogurt, part-skim mozzarella Major sources of calcium and protein
Meats, poultry and fish 2 or less -3 oz cooked meat
-3 oz cooked fish
-3 oz cooked poultry Select only lean cuts; trim visible fat; roast, broil or grill; remove skin from poultry Rich sources of protein, essential fatty acids (salmon) and magnesium
Nuts, seeds and legumes 4-5 PER WEEK -1/3 C of nuts
-2 Tbsp seeds
-1/2 C cooked legumes (Choose unsalted versions)Almonds, mixed nuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, beans, lentils Sources of energy, magnesium, potassium, protein and fiber
(National Institutes of Health)