Proper nutrition for people with Parkinson's disease

Most people with Parkinson's disease can eat the same healthy, balanced diet recommended for anyone. This includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, grains, cereals, legumes, poultry, fish, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products.

Early in the disease, it might be helpful to take pills with food to help with nausea, which may be caused by some medicines. Later in the disease, taking the medicines at least one hour before meals (and at least two hours after meals) may help them work better.

Protein may interfere with the absorption of levodopa and make the effects of the medicine less predictable. It may be helpful to spread your protein intake evenly throughout the day or to consume most of your daily protein requirements in the evening, rather than during the daytime, so that you have a more predictable absorption of and response to levodopa during the day when you are more active.

Follow your doctor's specific recommendations on diet and medicine. Eating a low-protein diet should be done only with the help of a dietitian or doctor.

Symptoms of Parkinson's disease and side effects of medicines used to treat the disease can change your appetite and ability to eat. Factors that can affect nutrition include mood, dementia, chewing and swallowing problems, tremors, immobility, and inactivity. It is important to find ways to eat a nutritious diet despite these factors.

Parkinson's disease affects the movement of intestinal muscles, which contributes to constipation in many people. Many medicines used to treat the disease may make constipation worse. To reduce constipation:

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Increase your fiber intake gradually to allow your system to adjust.
  • Avoid repeated use of laxatives. Using laxatives can, over time, make you dependent on them. This means that you will need to take more and more to get the same result.
  • Use enemas or laxatives only under the guidance or recommendation of your doctor.

Last Updated: December 8, 2008

related physicians

related services

Bon Secours International| Sisters of Bon Secours USA| Bon Secours Health System

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Privacy Policy. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2010 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.