Nutrition in PD

There is no one recommended way to eat with Parkinson's disease (PD).  A balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables, along the lines of the Mediterranean diet, promotes health and well-being for everyone.  The first step in addressing some PD symptoms, like constipation, low blood pressure and swallowing difficulties, involves adjusting your diet.  

The dopamine replacement medications (levodopa) is a building block of protein, so it competes for absorption with other proteins in the digestive tract. Taking levodopa with high-protein meals may reduce how much of the drug gets into your system and how well a dose works.  If you find your dopamine replacement medications isn't working as well as it used to, try taking the medication half hour before, or an hour after, a meal.

These resources will help you understand the recommended nutritional guidelines for those with PD, and why.


Downloadable Documents | Online Articles | Podcasts & Webinars | Books | Expert-level Resources


Downloadable Documents (PDF)

Diet and Parkinson’s

Published by Parkinson’s UK, June 2016

This 34-page booklet (PDF) provides some basic healthy eating information, to help you maintain a balanced diet and a healthy weight.  It also looks at the diet issues related to Parkinson’s and what you can do to manage these, including constipation, eating and swallowing difficulties, medications and diet, vitamins, food supplements, low blood pressure, food shopping and preparation, dishes and cutlery.


Parkinson's Disease: Nutrition Matters

Published by the National Parkinson Foundation (Now the Parkinson's Foundation), Revised 2016

This 70-page booklet (PDF), written by registered dietitian Kathrynne Holden, reviews the importance of nutrition in PD. Chapters discuss protein and levodopa; constipation; water needs; bone health; and unintended weight loss. Recipes and menus are included. 
En Español: Enfermedad de Parkinson: La Importancia de la Nutrición


Online Articles

Diet and Parkinson’s Disease

Published by the Michael J. Fox Foundation

This short web page answers a few questions about diet and Parkinson’s disease including dietary changes to ease Parkinson’s symptoms, how antioxidants help everyone and what foods contain a lot of them, and lava beans contain levodopa, but concentration and availability is likely minimal.


Diet & Nutrition

Published by the Parkinson's Foundation

While there is no prescription for a PD-specific diet, this page lists dietary guidelines for both maintaining overall health and easing PD symptoms. It also discusses dietary challenges specific to Parkinson's disease and tips for getting started when making dietary changes.


Common Nutritional Concerns in Parkinson's

Published by the Parkinson’s Foundation

These typical nutritional concerns for people living with Parkinson's disease should be addressed early on to minimize complications: bone thinning, dehydration, bowel impaction, unplanned weight loss, and medication side effects.


Podcasts & Webinars

Diet and Parkinson’s

By Parkinson’s South Australia, September 26, 2016

This 42-minute lecture reviews the basics of a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight, the importance of protein in a healthy diet separated from the timing of taking levodopa.  The symptom management section includes tips for: proper nutrition with nausea and vomiting, excess saliva or dry mouth, bowels/constipation issues.  An occupational therapist can help with meal preparation if tremors interfere.  If you have swallowing difficulty ask your neurologist for a swallowing evaluation, speech therapist and dietitian can help. 


Eating Well With Parkinson’s Disease

By the Michael J. Fox Foundation, January 16, 2020

In this 1-hour webinar a panel of experts discusses what we know about how diet impacts Parkinson’s symptoms and medication effectiveness as well as where indulgences like wine, coffee, travel and celebrations fit into a healthy diet. Questions from listeners are answered. 
Webinar notes on the Stanford PD Community Blog


Food for Thought: Diet & Nutrition in PD

Published by Parkinson Society British Columbia, November 2016

In this 49-minute talk by Dr. Laurie Mischley focuses on quality nutrition for those with Parkinson’s disease.  Dr. Mischley’s explains why and how she studies the nutritional requirements for those with neurodegenerative disorders.  What foods and supplements you should eat to delay the onset of PD, improve PD symptoms, and slow the progression of PD are shared throughout.  The impacts of daylight, loneliness, sleep, excessive weight, exercise (especially yoga), mindfulness and balance exercises on symptoms and disease progression are also outlined.


Food, Water, & Supplements: Does Nutrition Play a Role in PD Symptoms or Progression?

By the Parkinson’s Foundation, March 17, 2020

In this 1-hour webinar Dr. Laurie Mischley describes diets associated with the risk of developing PD and evidence nutrition plays a role after diagnosis.  The risks and benefits of popular diets are reviewed as well as obstacles to eating (loss of smell, lack of appetite, constipation, etc.).  Convenient, cost-effective, healthy dietary suggestions are provided.  Calorie restriction, intermittent fasting, and the role of dietary supplements are discussed. [Registration is required, but is free.]


Nutrition and Parkinson’s

Published by the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (Now the Parkinson's Foundation), September 12, 2017

In this 69-minute audio with slides Dr. John Duda shares specific foods that are neuroprotective, and have anti-inflammatory or antioxidant properties.  She explains where toxins collect in foods, so you know where to choose organics without overspending.  She discusses the effect of diet on medication uptake and Parkinson’s disease symptoms.


Nutrition and Parkinson’s Disease

Published by Parkinson’s Canada, May 23, 2017

In this 1-hour webinar registered dietitian Nicole Shuckett talks about what constitutes a healthy diet, nutrition-related symptoms of PD (weight changes, GI issues, dysphasia, drug-nutrient interactions, and bone thinning), management of nutrition-related symptoms of PD, and the link between protein and L-Dopa.


Nutrition and Parkinson’s Disease

By the Parkinson’s Foundation, September 15, 2015

In this 1-hour webinar Dr. Heather Zwickey shares foods that are neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, antioxidants and increase serum rate, and discusses medications and food, nutrition and symptoms, weight gain and loss.


Parkinson’s Nutrition & Living Well

By the Davis Phinney Foundation, November 6, 2019

In this 1-hour webinar Dr John Eric Duda discusses how dietary choices can affect symptom control in PD, how particular foods and timing of meals may interfere with PD medications, dietary management of some non-motor symptoms, the role of the gut microbiome in PD, how nutrition can change the molecular mechanisms present in people with PD and even provide disease-modifying effects, and more.  Registration is required, but it is free.


Books

Eat Well, Stay Well with Parkinson’s Disease: A Nutrition Handbook for People with Parkinson’s

By Kathrynne Holden, MS, RD.  Published by Five Star Living, Inc., 1998, 156 pages

This book, written by a registered dietician and PD professional, includes recipes and menus specific to the needs of those with PD - especially those who may be working to coordinate meals with medication timing, nausea, constipation, weight loss, protein timing and more.

Check your local library, or inquire at any bookstore.


Cook Well, Stay Well with Parkinson’s Disease: Super Foods for Super People

By Kathrynne Holden, MS, RD.  Published by Five Star Living, Inc., 2003, 211 pages

This book, written by a registered dietician and PD professional, features popular recipes, that are rich in the nutrients most needed by those living with PD.

Check your local library, or inquire at any bookstore.


Expert-Level Resources

The Emerging Role of Nutrition in Parkinson’s Disease

By Stacey E. Seidl, et. al.  Published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, March 7, 2014

This article reviews and summarizes studies that have addressed the role nutrition plays in both neuroprotection and neurodegeneration.  Epidemiological and biochemical studies suggest that inclusion or exclusion of certain food groups may elicit neuroprotection (those containing omega-3, vegetables, fruits, carotenoids, genistein, tea, caffeine, resveratrol) or neurodegeneration (milk).  Foods containing MUFA, PUFA, saturated fat, vitamin C, D, and E, riboflavin, carbohydrates, and meat have conflicting results and need to be studied further.



Last updated August 2020 by Stanford Parkinson's Community Outreach.