Nutrition Therapy in Parkinson’s Disease (PD)

Having a well-balanced, healthy diet is particularly important if you have Parkinson’s. This can help to manage symptoms such as constipation, slow digestion and swallowing difficulties. Eating can be affected by symptoms such as tremor or stiffness and so it may be helpful to use special aids such as cutlery with adapted handles or weighted cups, for example. For some people a reduced sense of smell and taste can affect their pleasure of eating.

Here are some tips for healthy eating and managing some Parkinson’s symptoms. Each person will have different nutritional needs and these suggestions should not replace advice given by your healthcare team.

Meal schedule: it is preferable to have small and frequent meals, to avoid overloading the stomach and slowing digestion and to minimise any swallowing difficulties.

Fibre: increasing daily intake of fibre rich foods such as fruit, vegetables, pulses, lentils, wholegrain breads and cereals can help with constipation.

Proteins: if you notice that you experience ‘off’ periods after you have eaten a meal containing protein, you may want to decrease protein intake in the morning and at lunch, then increase protein intake at dinner. You should discuss this with your doctor or a dietician who is experienced in Parkinson’s.

Meat: reduce meat consumption (but don’t eliminate it completely) and instead eat more fish and pulses.

It is helpful to keep a Dietary Diary so that you and your care team can look for any correlation between your symptoms and your diet and then adjust your eating habits to better manage symptoms.

These suggestions are guidelines only. You should consult with your doctor before changing your diet, particularly with regards to the effects of diet on medication.