Treating Parkinson’s Disease with Diet

Treating Parkinson’s Disease with Diet
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Plant-based diets in general, and certain plant foods in particular, may be used to successfully treat Parkinson’s disease—in part, by boosting L-DOPA levels.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Caffeine consumption, both in Asian and Western populations, appears to protect against the development of Parkinson’s disease. But, what if you already have it?  

A new study found that giving folks the equivalent of about two cups of coffee a day worth of caffeine significantly improved symptoms of the disease. Of course, there’s only so much you can charge for coffee, so drug companies took caffeine, and added a side group so they could patent it into new drugs, which appear to work no better than plain caffeine—which is dramatically cheaper, and probably safer.

Similarly, other plant foods, such as berries, may be protective. And, plant-based diets, in general, may help prevent Parkinson’s. Animal fat and dairy may increase risk, whereas “a plant-based diet dietary pattern may protect against [Parkinson’s disease].” We don’t know if it’s the animal fat per se, though; it could be the animal protein that’s increasing risk, or maybe it’s the dairy, the mercury in fish, the blood-based heme iron, or less of the protective antioxidants in plant foods and plant-based diets. We didn’t know, until recently.

There have been successful case reports, like this one, in which a dietician was struck down with Parkinson’s, and she was able to clear most of her symptoms with a plant-based diet rich in strawberries, whole wheat, and brown rice—rich sources of these two phytonutrients. But, there hasn’t been a formal interventional trial published—until now.

At its root, Parkinson’s is a dopamine-deficiency disease, because of a die-off of dopamine-generating cells in the brain. These cells make dopamine from L-dopa, derived from certain amino acids in our diet. But, just like we saw with the serotonin story, the consumption of animal protein may block the transport of L-dopa into the brain, crowding it out.

So, at first, researchers tried what’s called a “protein redistribution diet.” Let’s basically only let people eat meat for supper, so that patients are hopefully sleeping by the time the negative effects kick in. But researchers didn’t consider cutting out all animal products altogether, until it was discovered that fiber consumption naturally boosts L-dopa levels. So, hey, “a plant-based diet, particularly in its vegan variant, is expected to raise levodopa bioavailability and bring some advantages in the management of [Parkinson’s] disease through two mechanisms: a reduced protein intake and an increased fiber intake…”

That’s why plant protein works best, because that’s where fiber is found. So, they put folks on a strictly vegan diet, keeping beans towards the end of the day, and indeed found a significant improvement in symptoms.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Stirling Noyes and Elvert Barnes via flickr

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Caffeine consumption, both in Asian and Western populations, appears to protect against the development of Parkinson’s disease. But, what if you already have it?  

A new study found that giving folks the equivalent of about two cups of coffee a day worth of caffeine significantly improved symptoms of the disease. Of course, there’s only so much you can charge for coffee, so drug companies took caffeine, and added a side group so they could patent it into new drugs, which appear to work no better than plain caffeine—which is dramatically cheaper, and probably safer.

Similarly, other plant foods, such as berries, may be protective. And, plant-based diets, in general, may help prevent Parkinson’s. Animal fat and dairy may increase risk, whereas “a plant-based diet dietary pattern may protect against [Parkinson’s disease].” We don’t know if it’s the animal fat per se, though; it could be the animal protein that’s increasing risk, or maybe it’s the dairy, the mercury in fish, the blood-based heme iron, or less of the protective antioxidants in plant foods and plant-based diets. We didn’t know, until recently.

There have been successful case reports, like this one, in which a dietician was struck down with Parkinson’s, and she was able to clear most of her symptoms with a plant-based diet rich in strawberries, whole wheat, and brown rice—rich sources of these two phytonutrients. But, there hasn’t been a formal interventional trial published—until now.

At its root, Parkinson’s is a dopamine-deficiency disease, because of a die-off of dopamine-generating cells in the brain. These cells make dopamine from L-dopa, derived from certain amino acids in our diet. But, just like we saw with the serotonin story, the consumption of animal protein may block the transport of L-dopa into the brain, crowding it out.

So, at first, researchers tried what’s called a “protein redistribution diet.” Let’s basically only let people eat meat for supper, so that patients are hopefully sleeping by the time the negative effects kick in. But researchers didn’t consider cutting out all animal products altogether, until it was discovered that fiber consumption naturally boosts L-dopa levels. So, hey, “a plant-based diet, particularly in its vegan variant, is expected to raise levodopa bioavailability and bring some advantages in the management of [Parkinson’s] disease through two mechanisms: a reduced protein intake and an increased fiber intake…”

That’s why plant protein works best, because that’s where fiber is found. So, they put folks on a strictly vegan diet, keeping beans towards the end of the day, and indeed found a significant improvement in symptoms.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Stirling Noyes and Elvert Barnes via flickr

Doctor's Note

What about preventing the disease in the first place? See my previous video Preventing Parkinson’s Disease With Diet.

The serotonin story I mentioned, explaining the crowding out of precursor amino acids at the blood-brain barrier, is described in my three-part series The Wrong Way to Boost SerotoninA Better Way to Boost Serotonin, and The Best Way to Boost Serotonin.

More on the risks and benefits of coffee and caffeine in Coffee and Cancer, and What About the Caffeine?

And more on what fiber can do for us in videos like:

For more context, check out my associated blog post: Treating Parkinson’s Disease with Diet

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

39 responses to “Treating Parkinson’s Disease with Diet

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  1. Thank you so much for this information! Just last night while caring for a parkinson’s patient, I felt, there was more help for him in diet and lifestyle changes and this morning I see this! The suffering is so great for parkinson’s victims! thank you for spreading this! I know it will help a lot of people.

  2. I appreciate NUTRITIONFACTS.ORG and learn more and more with each passing day. My most sincere “thanks” and “appreciation”. Don :-))

  3. Dr Greger thank you all of the wonderful and helpful information you gave my sister Nancy yesterday. She feels more confident with her decision to go vegan as the best treatment. She is now looking for a new doctor who is willing to encourage her choice.

    Thanks again,
    Gale

    1. Hi Gale,

      Does your sister have Parkinson’s? If so, has she improved on a vegan diet? I’ve been trying to get a family member with Parkinson’s to adopt a vegan diet, but he’s resistant. If he heard about the experience of someone who’s had success with it, I’m hoping he might be willing to give it a try.

      Thanks,
      Annie

      1. Hi Annie,
        No. Heart disease.

        But I have treated many patients with Parkinson’s and overall strengthening and coordination exercises help.

        I have also had great response to them losing weight.
        I don’t have clinical experience with Parkinson’s and WFPB diet. Good luck with your family member.

  4. I was wondering….would this help someone with dementia with Lewy Bodies? Lewy Bodies is similar to Parkinsons. Thank you.

  5. Thank you so much for your hard work. Any tips on which foods are high in hexacosanol and fisetin? So far I’ve found strawberries and whole grains but my searching isn’t coming up with anything else. Interesting that my spouse with PD felt the best all day after eating some strawberries and grapes. Coincidence? We ate those before I found this article…

  6. I have seen some videos by David Perlmutter MD promoting glutathione as a treatment for Parkinsons on youtube.com. Also, glutathione has been touted as a super antioxidant but I do not see it listed in the blog topic index. Am I being led down the primrose or perhaps the Indian gooseberry path
    by this assertion?

    1. Hi I am new to these videos and as I am researching for a friends wife who has Parkinson´s I am not sure whether Glutathione works, however I know I have myself been taking a supplement called CELLGEVITY from Max Health and living International, sadly for the cost I have had to stop taking but the results in so many people were amazing, and in myself, so maybe do some research and check out this company, I have said that as soon as my financial situation improves I definitely would purchase these again.
      I am also interested in helping people and if it is going to not cost so much then great, so eating habits first for sure.

  7. Dr Gregor, do you have any advice for someone with Vascular Parkinsons? The patient is not swallowing at all, due to a blockage. He is in a nursing home in intensive care. I would really appreciate anything you can help with.

  8. I never believed Herbs can cure Parkinson.. i want to thank Dr OSOJO for his great deeds of cure to my Parkinson Disease. At first i never believed that Dr Osojo Herbal Medicine could cure my Parkinson until i tried his Instant herbal cure..

    I met a comment of how the great man cured some one with Parkinson disease, so i contacted him on the email which was dropped on the guestbook :

    dr.osojoherbalcureofalldisease@hotmail.com and dr.osojoherbalcureofalldisease@gmail.com and behold after some few days of negotiation with the Doctor, i received his herbal Medicine which i took for just 2 weeks, and now am so happy that Am Parkinson Cured with no trace of the disease in my body. if you are also in this same situation or you want to get cured of your disease, you can contact him now on dr.osojoherbalcureofalldisease@gmail.com Or dr.osojoherbalcureofalldisease@hotmail.com or http://drosojoherbalcureofalldisease.simplesite.com

    Kind regards.

  9. Here is the herbal Dr who can cure PD ( Parkinson Disease ) and other deadly diseases with the use of natural herbs. He is DR OSOJO the Super herbal doctor, he cured my 2 years Parkinson Virus and he can also cure yours as well, if you are having the same virus And other deadly diseases.
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    Thank you Dr Osojo for saving me from PD

  10. I just heard that mannitol can help heal the brain and help parkinson’s patients. I am considering trying this. Are there any adverse effects of taking mannitol? and yes I mean the sugary substance

    1. Cami,

      Mannitol is overall a safe product with minimal side effects, typically side effects are due to the amount taken. Per the Parkinson’s organization: “Consumed in excess, it will cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, and excessive gas. In addition to intestinal problems, Mannitol has also been associated with worsening heart failure, electrolyte abnormalities, or low blood volume. Importantly, we also do not know what effect it may have on absorption of L-dopa and other Parkinson’s disease medications.”. It should be noted that the majority of the patients using mannitol had a decrease in their prescription medication use.

      Please see the information on http://www.fight-parkinsons.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Mannitol.pdf for some additional info.

      Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger

      1. Thank you for your response. After reading a bit more, I am going to just get erythritol and see if the antioxidant effects help. At least it won’t do any harm. I will also continue to take inositol as that has been working. Although since eating so many beans I need to take less and less.

    1. My husband diagnosed with PD. I read the article Michele recommended and I ordered this supplement. It does work very well. All comments on site are real. A lot of symptoms improved (he start smile again, his articulation became normal, he is alert, no tremor), but not strength. He is getting weaker, his spine is not able already to hold the body. We are already 4 years in strict plant based diet and my husband is ready to give up the plant based diet. He starts blaming the diet and I am very confused why he became soo weak too. His cholesterol and creatinine level in blood are very low. Any help will be appreciated. Please comment. Maybe he is right and this diet is not for him.

      1. Hello Marina,
        I am a family doctor with a private practice specializing in lifestyle medicine, and also a volunteer moderator for this website. I will try to answer your question. I’m sorry about your husband’s Parkinson’s dz. Muscle weakness is a common symptom of Parkinson’s disease — which is also known as “paralysis agitans”, which translates to shaking weakness. This is largely due to the deficit in dopamine levels.

        The studies that Dr. Greger cites in this video make a fairly convincing case that a high-fiber plant-based diet can improve Parkinson’s disease by raising levodopa bioavailability. So, I would advise your husband to stick with a whole foods plant based diet.

        Regarding the supplement you mention, called “AtreMorine”, I don’t know much about it. It is encouraging that there is a link at the bottom of the article referenced by Michele (above) which takes you to the actual scientific article, in the Journal of Genomic Medicine and Pharmacogenomics. I notice that this nutraceutical compound is made from Vicia faba pods (AKA broad bean or fava bean). If it helps, then I see no reason why your husband shouldn’t continue taking it.

        It would also be helpful to have the input of a good neurologist with your husband’s care. (S)he could follow his dopamine levels, and do other testing to determine if there is another reason for your husband’s muscle weakness.

        I hope this helps.

        Dr. Jon
        PhysicianAssistedWellness.com
        Volunteer moderator for NutritionFacts.org

        1. Dr. Jon,

          I am really appreciate your respond. Preliminary diagnose was made by family doctor and sleeping neurologist. They requested MRI and my husband did it, but no one interpreted it for us. We will see neurologist specializing in PD only in November. Unfortunately no earlier appointment is available. Can you please suggest anything to help him before we see neurologist. His body banding almost 90 degree now and he could not fight it back to stand straight because of weakness. He tries to exercising but it creates so much pain. It happened so quickly during about 2-3 months. Thanks again, Marina

          1. Hello again, Marina. While your husband is waiting to see a neurologist, I strongly urge him to make an appointment with a good general internist or family doctor. It is important to consider other possible causes of severe muscle weakness. And I think waiting until November is too long.

            I’m sorry, but I am not able to provide good advice about your husband’s case over the internet. I would need to see him in person, and review his medical records, including any lab studies that have been done. Dr. Jon.

            Sent from Mail for Windows 10

      2. Dear Marina, thanks a lot for your comment on Atremorine with the improvement for your husband. We are very glad that this natural plant origin product helps your husband and that he is smiling again. Often it takes some time (with the better mood and motivation) to do some training, walking etc. for getting strength back. Do you think that it would be possible to have your comment for our customers? Thanks a lot for your help. Team Atremorine

  11. It is so strange, but a lot of sites about Parkinson disease have messages like Sylvester Cater sent, but about different doctors. The same pattern.
    What is it?

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  13. GOOD HEALTH HERBS

    Logan Caleb
    I am a 66-years-old man. My Parkinson’s disease appeared at the age of 37. My symptoms, at the beginning, were fine tremors and rigidity with joint stiffness. I was taking entacapone with levodopa, carbidopa, and pramipexole. My Parkinson’s disease is mostly under control but not cured,After using Parkinson’s disease herbal formula my daughter purchased online from Good Health Herbs Home,my parkinson’s diseases disappeared,Am living Parkinson’s disease free for 6 months now,no more tremors and rigidity with joint stiffness,all thanks to Good Health Herbs Home.

  14. BEST
    I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in my mid to late 40’s. I had hand tremors for several years. Gradually becoming worse. I then noticed when I was tired the tremors were worse. I started falling for no apparent reason. I Later had stiffness in my legs and need to walk with 2 canes or a walker. I was very slow getting around. I am now 54 years old. I was forgetful at times and had difficulty expressing myself. I had difficulty swallowing at times. I become tired easily.Now am Parkinson’s disease free,after using the Parkinson’s disease herbal formula i purchased from BEST HEALTH HERBAL CENTRE for 6 weeks,tremors disappeared,No more legs stiffness,energy increased,walking without cane. All thanks to God for leading to BEST HEALTH HERBAL CENTRE. please visit their website for more information.. ww w.besthealthherbalcentre .com

  15. Hi,My name’s Gloria,I’m 43 years old. In August 2013,I had a heart attack and subsequently had a double bypass. As a result of the heart surgery, for 4 year plus, I have been plagued with chronic debilitating pain from a maligned sternum and post sternotomy neuralgia/syndrome. I was ingesting copious amounts of various pain killers 24/7, They barely touched the pain.
    I spent my days in agony, waiting for evening so I could try to sleep. I took sleeping pills nightly in a futile attempt to escape the hell I was going through and failed miserably. Within 2 hours of taking the pills, I would be awake in agony.
    On May 2017, Already coping with 2 spots of skin cancer on my collar bone, I was stunned when I was diagnosed with Anal Canal Cancer. (This is the same cancer that took Farrah Fawcett’s life.) Following 2 surgeries, the doctor told me they did not get all the cancer and I would have to endure a regime of radiation treatments. I started researching what this would entail, and attended an intake meeting at the Cancer Clinic. I was informed that “this is the worst area of the body to radiate”, the radiation beam would hit both my coccyx and pubic bone potentially causing permanent damage.”
    I told the doctor i needed time to think about it,His response was hostile, as he told me I had 4-6 months, possibly 8. He murmured something about a “death wish” and walked out. One day a friend sent me a Video,It took me days to get around to watching it, but when I did I was blown away.
    There was this man talking about Dr Musa and the amazing results he had seen with in himself and other people taking Dr Musa’s herbal medicine and Cannabis oil gotten from him and curing themselves of a myriad of diseases and viruses including end stage cancers.
    After watching the video and the testimonials, i was feeling some hope for the first time,For 2 weeks I did nothing but research cannabis oil as a medicine. I was stunned by the sheer number of studies on Pub Med indicating that cannabis oil indeed has the capacity to heal. I contacted Dr Musa using the email i got from the video and assured me that i am going to be healed of all my sickness, with the high hope of getting a cure and assurance given to me by Dr Musa,I got the medications and started using.
    As i was ingesting the cannabis oil and taking the herbal medicine, I tipically applied the herbal medicine to the 2 spots of skin cancer on my collar bone. Within 48 hours, there were visible changes, In just a week,the 2 spots were completely gone. Elated, I continued ingesting the oil and using the herbal medicine in hopes it would work on the other cancer attacking my body. Nothing prepared me for what happened next. About 2 weeks of using Dr Musa herbal medicine,the pain in my sternum, as well as the nerve pain had become non existent.
    Never in my wildest dreams, did I imagine I would be pain free ever again,the jolting pain so intense that it would cause me to cry out,ceased completely.
    I saw one of my doctors and was thrilled to hear he believes there is a decrease in both the size and number of tumors. I know in my heart it is only a matter of time before I will be completely cured.
    On September 20, 2017,I saw my specialist/surgeon,whom I had not seen for a long time. He examined me once,then a second time,and then a third time. My heart was pounding so loudly I could hear the whooshing in my ears. And then the news I had only dared to hope for. “It’s gone! I can’t find anything at all. If it wasn’t for the scar tissue I would never have known you ever had cancer.” I was shaking,looking at him in disbelief. Tears streaming down my face,I hugged him mumbling,”thank you,thank you.” He looked at me, “No,Thank YOU! You’re the one that did this. You DID it Gloria! You pulled it off,you pulled it off! No doctor,Dr Musa herbal medicine pulled it off!.
    if you are in such a situation never loose hope and dont give up.
    You can contact him on his email address at:
    dr.musatradomedicalcentre@gmailcom

  16. Please help me!!  I have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s.  What is the cure/treatment for Parkinson’s?  In addition, I have folliculitis (facial redness) and arthritis of the finger joints. I’m 66 years old and live about 30 miles east of Albuquerque New Mexico. Thank you very much for all your help.  God bless you.

    1. Dear Randy,

      you can find all our content about Parkinson’s disease here:

      https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/parkinsons-disease/

      I’m sorry to say that, but it can’t be cured. Medications can help control your symptoms. There are various drugs to treat it, but the most commonly used is “levodopa.” Levodopa is a natural chemical that passes into your brain and is converted to dopamine.

      Folliculitis is usually caused by infection, so antibiotics are commonly used. Moisturizer and lotions can help, too.

      Regarding your rheumatoid arthritis, plant-based diets in general are associated with a drastic reduction in symptoms. Rosehips and potassium ease the arthritic pain caused by inflammation, while fruit and vegetables (particularly berries) help to inhibit platelet activity that is associated with inflammation. Curcumin, the yellow pigment in turmeric, worked better at easing pain than the leading pharmaceutical treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. You can find more info here:

      https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/rheumatoid-arthritis/

      I hope this helped and God bless you as well!

      Health Support Adam P.

  17. Gloria, thank you so much for Dr. Musa’s e-mail address. The following change was made: a period after gmail. I really appreciate all of your help!!

  18. Recently, I expended approximately $1,000 (US) to Dr. Gregory Osojo. To my dismay, I was not cured of Parkinson’s and now, he won’t respond to my e-mails. Can anyone help me? Thank you and God bless.

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