PORTLAND, OR —Among patients with Parkinson’s disease, eating foods common in a Mediterranean diet and exercising regularly are associated with reduced rates of Parkinson’s disease progression, according to the results of a natural history study described at the Fourth World Parkinson Congress. Prior studies have found that people who consume green tea, coffee, and blueberries and avoid dairy may have a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease. Whether nutrition is associated with rate of disease progression in patients with Parkinson’s disease, however, is not known.
To evaluate whether diet, exercise, and supplements are associated with rate of Parkinson’s disease progression, Laurie Mischley, ND, PhD, MPH, Assistant Research Scientist at Bastyr University Research Institute in Kenmore, Washington, and Richard Lau, MPH, a PhD student in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University in Corvalis conducted an Internet-based natural history study. A total of 1,024 patients participated in the study. Participants had a mean age of 60.7 and had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease for an average of 6.7 years.
The researchers used the Patient-Reported Outcomes in Parkinson’s Disease (PRO-PD) scale to assess Parkinson’s disease severity. Disease progression was defined as PRO-PD score adjusted for age and years since diagnosis. They used baseline food frequency questionnaires to quantify dietary intake in the cross-sectional analysis. Fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, nuts and seeds, olive oil, fish (non-fried), wine, eggs, and fresh herbs were associated with a statistically significant improvement in PRO-PD score, the researchers said. Fried foods, beef, diet soda, canned fruits, and canned vegetables were associated with more severe disease. Dairy consumption was not associated with disease severity.