Monthly Archives: June 2012

Facts about depression

Depression is a symptom of Parkinson’s disease. Find out more:

  • Present in up to 50% of people with Parkinson’s
  • Can co-exist with anxiety, apathy or cognitive problems
  • Can begin before movement problems
  • Can be generalized, or a symptom associated with off periods
  • Impacts life quality as much or sometimes more than movement problems.
  • Is high in caregivers if not recognized and treated
  • Responds to exercise, socialization, diet, stress management, and medicines

Find out more about depression in the July-August Wellness Center update.


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Filed under Emotional Health, Non-movement Symptoms

Coffee reduces risk of Parkinson’s. What about other foods?

A recent report at the 2012 American Academy Meeting suggested that greater than 3 large cups of coffee could protect against development of brain Lewy body disease. Lewy bodies are abnormal cell deposits associated with Parkinson’s disease.  Results come from research conducted as part of the Honolulu-Asia Aging Study (HAAS), a prospective analysis of more than 8000 Japanese American men who were living on the island of Oahu at the initiation of the study in 1965.

Coffee (caffeine) is an A2a adenosine antagonist thought to play a role in motor control which could be beneficial in PD.

It is not known if drinking coffee after a person has PD alters the course of the disease.  Whether caffeine is neuroprotective is unknown and will be a subject for future.

Other foods found to reduce the risk of developing PD

  • Mediterranean diet- high in fruits vegetables, vegetable protein, fish, grains, nuts, beans, olive oil.
  • Vitamin B6 foods (cheese, mild, eggs, beans/legumes, potatoes, fish, meat, flour, grains, carrots, and peas)
  • Vitamin E rich foods (olive oil, nuts, seeds and leafy green vegetables)
  • Beer
  • Berries- blackberry, blueberry, raspberry (high in flavinoids)
  • Green tea
  • Omega 3 Fish oil such as that found in cold water fish like salmon (reduced Parkinson’s in animal studies)
  • Peppers- high and antioxidants and nicotine both potentially helpful for PD

Increase risk of developing Parkinson’s was found with

  • Saturated fat- diet high in animal protein over vegetable protein)
  • Milk consumption in men

What nutrition research is clear about is that no single vitamin or food leads to ideal health.  Healthy meal patterns are your best best.  Talk to your healthcare provider before making any change in your diet. Find out more about diet, health and Parkinson’s disease at the Wellness Center.

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Filed under Nutrition, Vitamins and Supplements

How can I find a good doctor who is knowledgeable about PD and is caring as well? My doctor does not always listen.

This question was asked by a member of PDCommunity! It is important to find a clinician that is both knowledgeable, open to your ideas and empathic.

  • If you feel that your current doctor does not listen to you or is not aligned with your treatment values, talk with them about your concerns. They may appreciate your honesty and find ways to work with you.
  •  Support groups are a place to start to find out how doctors in your area interact with their patients.
  • Contact your local and national foundations to discuss doctors  in your area, The National Parkinson’s Foundation ( help line can help you find someone in your area. The NWPF can help if you live in the Northwest US.
  • Try scheduling an appointment with anther doctor. Some patients find it helpful to simply schedule an appointment to meet a physician and talk about their goals before they select their doctor.

Please help and add your suggestions for finding a doctor that is a good fit for you.

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Filed under Navigating Healthcare

Help for constipation

More than half of individuals with Parkinson’s have trouble with constipation. Constipation may even begin before the movement symptoms are noticeable, a pre-motor symptom.

Constipation is caused by slow movement of digested food through the intestine. Weak abdominal wall muscles, pelvic and sphincter muscle dystonia or excessive contraction can also cause problems with elimination.

Many factors can contribute to constipation. Understanding these factors and making some simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference:

  • Check your Medicines- many medicines worsen constipation such as Benedryl, Narcotics, amantadine, anticholinergics for tremor, sedatives and muscle relaxants, amantadine and some antidepressants (tricyclics)
  • Exercise- especially walking can help tremendously
  • Drink water- this will reduce your risk of dehydration and hard compacted stool
  • Add fiber- 20- 30 grams a day. That is more than most Americans eat.  Adding beans, nuts, whole grains, fruits and vegetables will help.
  • Psyllium is an over the counter source of soluble fiber.  These and other OTC regimens must be taken with plenty of fluid and started care
  • Set up a bowel routine- Take the time to use the bathroom. Do not rush or strain. Set a side time every day to establish a habit.
  • Many other treatments are available from stool softeners to laxatives, to teas that stimulate colon activity.  See NWPF wellness center for more information on constipation and its treatment.

Share what works for you by replying add describing what works for you.

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Filed under Lifestyle, Non-movement Symptoms, Self-Care