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Nutritional Q&A

Following on from the last two nutritional blogs ‘Seven day sample menu‘ and ‘Introducing Helen‘ a number of questions have arisen. So this week we have answered a selection and encourage your involvement with future posts. Also I’m pleased to announce we’re planning a webinar and a pilot one on one personal nutritional considerations via Skype. Places are limited so please email Ewan for details.

What is the difference between a Dietitian and Nutritionist?

In the UK dietitians predominantly work in hospitals advising people with medical conditions on diet. Dietitian is a protected title by law and all dietitians would have a BSc or post grad qualification in dietetics. Nutritionists generally work in 3 areas – research (so produce the research that dietary recommendations are based on for both medical conditions and wellbeing), public health or private practice. Public health and private practice nutritionists predominantly focus on keeping people well. Nutritionist is not a protected title so whilst most would have a BSc or post grad qualification in Human Nutrition anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. There are also nutritional therapists and titles such as nutritional advisor used.

Is there a set diet for Parkinson’s?

No. However diet should prevent against nutritional deficiencies. Research has found that some nutrients and foods can slow the progression of Parkinson’s therefore it may be beneficial to include these in the diet whilst other foods increase risk. Another consideration is that the amount and timing of protein intake will impact the effectiveness of some Parkinson’s medication.

An individual’s diet must be discussed with their own consultant and dietitian. Our aim with the blog is to raise awareness of the importance of diet, provide inspiration on how to include nutrients and foods in your diet, eliminate symptoms of nutritional deficiency and raise issues that you should be discussing with your consultant or dietitian.

Having PD has greatly affected my mobility and I have fallen into the trap of comfort eating. I am concerned about weight gain.

Try planning ahead, this will lower the risk of making food decisions based on mood. Also have your cupboards stocked with lots of healthy but enjoyable snacks and just a few ‘comfort foods’. Counselling may be beneficial in reducing the need for comfort food.

To increase activity see if there are any classes in your area designed for people with Parkinsons. Here in Oxford we have great classes run by On Physio, there may be something similar near you. Or plan a daily walk – if it is not planned it won’t happen! Start with just 5 minutes and see if you can gradually increase it.

How can I encourage my mum to maintain good nutrition?

It is always difficult to advise relatives. Encourage her to read our blogs, this will hopefully increase her interest and encourage her to think about how her diet can help the symptoms of Parkinson’s. If she has not been referred to a dietician or has not seen one recently it would be beneficial for her to do so.

It may be that she finds food preparation difficult. Discussing this with her may help, together with finding solutions such as buying ready chopped vegetables or preparing food at times of the day when she has more muscle control.

Should I follow a low fat diet?

Aim for about 30% of calorie intake to come from fat. Focus on unsaturated fats which are beneficial to long term heart health and are also high in antioxidants. Omega 3, in particular DHA found in oily fish such as salmon, is anti-inflammatory and also an important constituent of the brain cell membrane. Whilst not proven in Parkinson’s Omega 3 appears to be neuroprotective for several other neurodegenerative diseases. Limit saturated fat intake as this is detrimental to heart health as well as causing inflammation and oxidative stress.



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