Parkinson’s Nutrition 2020 Research Update

Slices of fresh ripe avocado on a dark wooden table

I just received this report from Sarah King (Invigorate PT & Wellness) and Casey Farlow (Theory Health). It is a terrific summary and evaluation of 16 important and recent Parkinson’s nutrition research studies on a variety of diet and supplementation topics relevant to Parkinson’s patients. It includes a link to the actual hard-copy of each study. Highly recommended to anyone interested in the connection between the food we eat and disease.

A Turn of Phrase

I like the way Chris Ballard wrote about the basketball great, Brian Grant, in this 5/2/18 article on SI.com:

“the disease is both everywhere and nowhere, because while 60,000 people are diagnosed every year, and roughly 10 million live with Parkinson’s worldwide, most do their best to hide it. Until they can’t. Then they hide themselves.”

Ketogenic diet and Parkinson’s – a limited study

Ketogenic diet with nutrition diagram written on a note.

I found this video today and recommend it to anyone considering a ketogenic diet as part of their strategy to fight Parkinson’s. It describes a limited study, done with a group of five patients who moved to a ketogenic diet for a period of time. The results were very interesting.

One commenter asks whether the diet is “worth it” given the significance of food in his life, describing food as his/her last pleasure in life. I have heard people make comments like this before and I would say that if food is your last pleasure, then your food is eating you. If you aren’t sure what the difference is between you eating your food or your food eating you, I’d recommend a 30 day immersion into the ketogenic diet so you can feel the meaning.

There are so many pleasures in life; food is just a distraction (a huge cultural one, but a distraction nonetheless).

Hot, Sweaty, and Determined

In the New Parkinson’s Disease Treatment book, Dr. J. Eric Ahlskog, recommends aerobic exercise not just for Parkinson’s but to improve aging in general. He specifically states that exercise should raise your pulse, cause you to perspire, and tire you out.

I recently noticed more research that supports this idea. New research is showing that 30 minutes of intense exercise daily is connected with keeping you up to nine years biologically younger.  It has to do with telomeres.

A telomere is the “endcap” of each of our chromosomes. They protect each chromosome from deterioration during cell division by absorbing the truncation that takes place during that process. In humans, average telomere length declines from about 11 kilobases when we are born to less than 4 kilobases when we are aged, probably because of oxidative stress or inflammation.

The good news is that we can change the truncation of our telomeres with 30 minutes of regular, hard exercise (40 minutes for men).  It is doable. It has a demonstrable impact.

In Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari mentions that a hunter-gather before the Agricultural Revolution would have “had physical dexterity that people today are unable to achieve even after years of practicing yoga or t’ai chi.” One reason is that they moved so much more than we do.

In the spirit of my hunter-gather lineage, I ought to be able to fit in 30 minutes a day of hot, sweaty exercise, especially since I don’t have to chase down dinner while I do it.