Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system which often affects the sufferer’s movement and speech, as well as other functions.
The primary symptoms result from insufficient levels of the important brain chemical dopamine. Dopamine plays a crucial role in behaviour, cognition, movement, motivation pleasure and alertness. In Parkinson’s disease there is chronic and progressive loss of one of the parts of the brain that makes dopamine, the substantia nigra.
The main symptoms of Parkison’s disease are:
- Slow or impaired movement
- Postural instability
- Small hand writing
- Mask like face
As the condition progresses other symptoms and complications may develop including
- Cognitive disturbance
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty swallowing
- Speech difficulty
- Impaired movement
- Excessive salivation
- Urinary dysfunction
- Pins and needles
- Disturbance in sense of smell
- Skin problems
- Pill rolling
Causes and prevention
Many cases of Parkinson’s have no known cause whereas some case are related to genetics, head injuries, certain disease and the use of some drugs.
Possible underlying causes include
Oxidative damage – The major underlying cause of Parkinson’s disease is thought to be oxidative damage, which is caused by chemicals called free radicals. Free radicals occur all over the place. Some are made in the body and others come from our environment e.g. pollution. Normally the body has very good mechanisms for mopping up free radicals before they do us any damage. However, if we are constantly exposed to high levels of free radicals and we don’t support our body’s defence mechanism, it can become over whelmed. This leads to disease. If you are concerned about your exposure to free radicals you might want to consider an oxidative stress analysis. This gives an indication as to how much oxidative stress you body is under and how well it’s defence mechanisms are working. Oxidative Stress Test.
Environmental toxins – Certain toxins such as agricultural chemicals and pesticides have been linked to the development of Parkinson’s disease. In our modern world these chemicals are becoming more and more common and often our systems struggle to deal with the increasing load.
Heavy metals – One specific group of toxins that has been linked to Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative disorders are heavy metals. The body finds it very difficult to get rid of certain metals so they accumulate within our systems and can push out some of the essential metals we need to function properly. They can also form free radicals and add to our oxidative stress. If you have an occupation where you are exposed to heavy metals or you are interested in finding out whether you have any heavy metal toxicity you might wish to have a hair mineral analysis test. This test measures the levels of metals excreted into the hair shaft and is representative of metal levels throughout the body. Hair Mineral Analysis.
Poor diet – A diet high in refined and processed foods and low in fruit and vegetables can greatly impact on the both the toxic and free radical load in the body. Eating the right food is key to ensuring your body has everything it needs to fight free radicals and other disease processes. Luckily Smart Nutrition can advise you on the best foods to eat to combat damaging free radicals and keep your nervous system healthy as well as advise you on the foods you might want to avoid to reduce your toxic load. This can all help to prevent the processes that lead to Parkinson’s and other diseases. Book a Consultation.
Stress – Stress by its very nature causes the body to produce many more free radicals than normal, which can lead to increased levels of oxidative damage such as that implicated in Parkinson’s disease. In fact unremitting stress is known to be a key risk factor for the development of Parkinson’s. If you think stress may be a big factor in your life you may want to consider a stress test which will help identify key imbalances in stress hormones. For more information about the Adrenal Stress Test Click Here.
Nutritional therapy for Parkinson’s Sufferers
Food and medication interactions – If you have Parkinson’s disease it is very important to take your medication at the right times around meals because interactions between medications and foods can adversely affect your control of movement. With the help of Smart Nutrition it is possible to devise an eating plan around your medication so you get the best results from your drugs and a better quality of life. Book a Consultation.
Nutritional deficiencies – many people with Parkinson’s disease demonstrate certain nutritional deficiencies. This can be due to both dietary difficulties, as well as differences in the way the body uses these nutrients. Having a NutrEval Health Test can be an excellent way to quickly identify these deficiencies, which can then be easily corrected with the help of a diet and supplement programme and correcting deficiencies can make huge differences in energy and quality of life. NutrEval – MOT Health Test.
Bowel function – Constipation and diarrhoea are common complications of Parkinson’s disease but are often simple to manage with proper diet and lifestyle advice. Some simple dietary changes can make all the difference and help you to be much more comfortable. Book a Consultation.
Weight management – The combination of problems with swallowing, movement and bowel function can all make managing your weight very difficult with Parkinson’s. Sometimes the extra support of a nutritional therapist can be invaluable in ensuring meals provide an adequate level of calories and nutrients, as well as being easy to digest. Book a consultation.