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Constipation, Excessive Daytime Sleepiness, and Depression? Mediterranean Diet Might Help

Timothy Boyer Ph.D.'s picture
Change in diet can help relieve common health problems.

If you suffer constipation, excessive daytime sleepiness, and depression you have some of the early symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. Here’s one study that suggests following a Mediterranean diet will decrease your symptoms and might protect you from the disease.

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A new study investigating possible links between diet and Parkinson’s Disease has discovered that eating a Mediterranean Diet might have a benefit toward protecting you from—if not the disease itself—at least a few of the prodromal features that precede developing the disease.

Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects predominately dopamine-producing (“dopaminergic”) neurons in a specific area of the brain, leading to an abnormal buildup of a protein called alpha-synuclein. The buildup of protein and resultant loss in dopamine—which is needed to help regulate movement and emotional responses—results in characteristic tremors.

Parkinson's disease can mimic the symptoms of an overactive bladder

The term “prodromal” is used to refer to certain symptoms that tend to manifest before the onset of a particular disease. In the case of Parkinson’s Disease, several symptoms appear years before diagnosis of the condition is made. While a person with Parkinson’s Disease may not have previously experienced all of its prodromal symptoms, most experience at least a few of the following symptoms; of which, constipation, excessive daytime sleepiness, and depression are quite common.

10 Signs That You Might Develop Parkinson's Disease

1. Tremors
2. Small Handwriting
3. Loss of Smell
4. Trouble Sleeping
5. Trouble Moving or Walking
6. Constipation
7. A Soft or Low Voice
8. A masked facial appearance
9. Dizziness or Fainting
10. Stooping or Hunching Over

According to a news release from the Harvard School of Public Health, the study was published August of 2020 in the journal Neurology where researchers found a link between diet patterns and prodromal Parkinson’s disease symptoms.

Analyzing data from 47,679 participants in the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, the researchers looked for data that appeared to show an association between eating a Mediterranean-style diet and the early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

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According to the Harvard School of Public Health news release, study participants, “…who scored in the top 20% of diet quality were one-third less likely to develop multiple early Parkinson’s symptoms over 20 years, compared to people in the bottom 20%.” In other words, there is an inverse relationship between eating a healthy Mediterranean-style diet and developing the prodromal warning signs of pending Parkinson’s Disease.

The news release quotes lead author Samantha Molsberry, a postdoctoral research fellow, that, “…while the new findings do not prove that diet affects Parkinson’s disease risk, there is reason to believe that eating healthy may be protective by lowering inflammation in the body. And there is no downside to this eating pattern, she said. “I think this is one more reason to encourage people to eat a healthy diet.”

What To Do If You Have Symptoms

The Parkinson’s Foundation recommends that if you do develop Parkinson’s Disease, you should work with your doctor to create a plan to stay healthy that might include the following steps:

1. Get a referral to a neurologist, a doctor who specializes in the brain.
2. Seek care from an occupational therapist, physical therapist or speech therapist.
3. Meet with a medical social worker to talk about how Parkinson's will affect your life.
4. Start a regular exercise program to delay further symptoms.
5. Talk with your family and friends who can provide you with the support you need.

Timothy Boyer has a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona. For 20+ years he has been employed as a freelance health and science writer. Today, with an eye on the latest news, Timothy continues writing about science with a focus on what you need to know for healthier living. For continual updates about health, you can also follow Timothy on Twitter at TimBoyerWrites.

Image Source: Photo by Abigail Keenan on Unsplash.

References:

Mediterranean diet may lower Parkinson’s disease risk” Harvard School of Public Health news release 19 August 2020.

Diet pattern and prodromal features of Parkinson's disease” Samantha Molsberry et al., Neurology Aug 2020.

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