Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological (brain) disorder that is caused by the breakdown of nerve cells in the part of the brain that controls movement. These nerve cells die or become damaged, losing the ability to produce an important chemical called dopamine. Studies have shown that symptoms of Parkinson’s develop in patients with an 80% or greater loss of dopamine-producing cells.
While there is no proven way to prevent Parkinson’s, there are some ways to slow the progression of the disease and reduce the severity of symptoms. Research has shown that lifestyle interventions may help prevent progression of Parkinson’s.
A recent study explored the benefits of aerobic exercise for people with Parkinson’s disease.
Results suggest the benefits of regular physical exercise include:
For those with Parkinson’s disease, exercise is more than healthy — it is a vital component to maintaining balance, mobility and independent daily living. Research shows that exercise and physical activity can not only maintain and improve mobility, flexibility and balance but also ease nonmotor Parkinson’s symptoms such as depression or constipation.
The Parkinson’s Outcomes Project shows that people with Parkinson’s who start exercising earlier in their disease course for a minimum of 2.5 hours per week experience a slowed decline in quality of life compared with those who start later. Establishing early exercise habits is essential to overall disease management.
There has not been much solid evidence that dietary supplements have any effect on Parkinson’s symptoms.
There is some evidence that your environment can contribute to your developing Parkinson’s. Exposure to metals, pesticides and certain drugs have been strongly linked to the onset of Parkinson’s. When metals build up in the cells, the body’s physical balance is disturbed. This metal toxicity stops the brain cells from working properly. Some metals are key to normal body function, but in high levels they become toxic. These metals include iron, copper, manganese, zinc, aluminum, lead and mercury.
You can be exposed to heavy metals by:
There has been some research that suggests traumatic brain injury (TBI) may contribute to the onset of Parkinson’s. TBI is a significant nongenetic risk factor for developing Parkinson’s later in life. Researchers believe inflammation may play a significant role in developing Parkinson’s following TBI. More research is needed, but it may help doctors treat TBI more effectively in the future so it decreases the likelihood someone might develop Parkinson’s later in life.
The severity of Parkinson’s symptoms varies from person to person, but patients have noted that symptoms get worse with:
Doctors don’t know what causes Parkinson’s disease, but several factors appear to play a role, including:
Research has shown that the brains of people with Parkinson’s have certain changes, but it is not clear how those changes affect the disease. People with Parkinson’s have:
Researchers believe these Lewy bodies hold an important clue to the cause of Parkinson’s disease.
Risk factors for Parkinson’s include:
Following a healthy balanced diet is good for anyone, but are there things you should or shouldn’t eat if you have Parkinson’s? Your diet can affect general well-being and your body’s ability to deal with symptoms of the disease. That said, you should be aware of some special considerations.
Foods you can incorporate freely into your diet include:
Foods to add to your diet in moderate amounts:
Foods that should rarely be included into your Parkinson’s diet:
There is no known cause or cure for Parkinson’s disease, but there are many ways to manage symptoms and possibly to keep symptoms at bay for longer. Talk to your doctor about risk factors for Parkinson’s disease and answers to your questions about this condition. Make an appointment through Norton MyChart
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