Diet and Nutrition for People with Parkinson's Disease

By Julie Carter
WebMD Live Events Transcript

Julie Carter, R.N., M.N., A.N.P., will address the most important aspects of a healthy diet for people living with Parkinson's.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Mature_Years_Mod Hello and welcome to Health In Your Mature Years. Today's guest speaker is Julie Carter from OHSU. Ms. Carter is the Associate Director of the Parkinson's Center of Oregon as well as an Associate Professor in the Department of Neurology at OHSU. Today she will be taking your questions on Diet and Nutrition for People with Parkinson's Disease. Also if you have general diet and nutrition questions please include those as well. Let's get started, Is it important for effective treatment of Parkinson's to have a healthy diet?

Speaker_Carter Diet is particularly important for people who are on Sinemet. Sinemet or levodopa can interact with food at two locations, gut and brain. At the level of the stomach food can delay levodopa from being absorbed into the blood. If levodopa is taken on a full stomach the food must first be digested before it enters the gut of intestine. Levodopa is absorbed across the gut wall into the blood. If the absorption is delayed it might be ineffective. Our recommendation is to take levodopa or sinemet on a empty stomach. At the level of the brain, protein can interfere with levodopa. This happens because levodopa uses the same molecules as protein to be carried into the brain. If all of those molecules are filled up with amino acids (parts of protein) there is no place for levodopa to hook on and get into the brain. We recommend that people take the RDA for protein each day; this is usually less than most people consume. Next

Mature_Years_Mod What are the benefits of a low protein diet?

Speaker_Carter A low protein diet means a diet that meets the RDA for protein. This is .8grams/kg or .4 grams/pound. The benefit is to reduce the interaction between levodopa and food which I just described. Next

Mature_Years_Mod What is the value of different nutritional supplements?

Speaker_Carter Do you have any specific supplements in mind?

Mature_Years_Mod Why is thiamin and Vitamin E good for you?

Speaker_Carter Vitamin E is an antioxidant. This means that it can counteract oxidative metabolism which is thought to be responsible for the damage in a number of disease processes. In PD it was thought to delay progression but after a careful study it does not look like this is true. It most likely does not get across the blood brain barrier. It is still good for other disease processes such as heart disease, perhaps cancer, and others. Next

Mature_Years_Mod What are some other supplements worth taking and learning more about for those sick as well as aging?

Speaker_Carter I should first start with vitamins in general. A well balanced multivitamin is important in normal aging and any chronic illness. Good nutrition can be harder to come by and a good vitamin is protective for nutritional deficits. The other supplement is calcium. Women and men should both have 1200-1500mg/day. A glass of milk has 300mg so you can start to estimate how much you get in food. Are there other supplements that come to mind?

Mature_Years_Mod None specifically... just making sure that those that are aging are looking for the right foods which provide them the right nutrients...

Mature_Years_Mod To submit a question please type in /ask then skip a space then type in your question and hit return.

Speaker_Carter Let me say a word about coenzyme Q10. This nutritional supplement is being studied in PD. It is a powerful antioxidant, boosts energy, and the immune system. In PD it is thought to repair a defect in the powerhouse of the cell (mitochondria). There is a controlled double blind clinical trial being done right now to answer this question. Next

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