Elder Asian woman looks ahead while antioxidant rich food like eggplant, lotus root, lemongrass grow around her

Protect Your Brain and Body with the Power of Plants

Parkinson’s disease treatment primarily focuses on the relief of motor and non-motor symptoms, improving daily life. However, it’s worth addressing a Mediterranean and neuroprotective diet by boosting phytonutrient plant-based foods. Check out why a plant-forward diet may help you live your best life while managing Parkinson’s disease.

Reducing inflammation

A Mediterranean-style diet is currently recommended for its association with lower inflammation and risk of metabolic and neurodegenerative diseases. This high-quality diet is similar to the MIND and DASH diet, which focuses on green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, whole grains, seafood, poultry, and olive oil.1-3

While the Mediterranean diet is high in phytonutrients, it’s equally rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other brain-boosting nutrients. With its high fiber content helpful for constipation and abundant in plant-based foods (associated with lower cognitive decline) it’s no wonder we see it frequently recommended for Parkinson’s disease.1-3

Benefit of plant-based foods

Plant power your way to better health by protecting against oxidative stress. Mother Nature’s colorful creations are abundant in phytonutrients, each containing its own unique health benefits. The role of antioxidants is to neutralize free radicals that contribute to oxidative stress—a potential mechanism in the development of PD.4,5

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By preventing oxidants’ generation, specific cofactors get elevated, which stimulates protective enzymes, ultimately boosting RNA/DNA antioxidant defense systems. Evidence shows that the aging process contributes to decreased cognitive function and increased mitochondrial (the energy factors in our cells) dysfunction. This decline results from the oxidation of lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids and contributes to age-related neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s.5

How phytonutrients help

Phytonutrients are plant-based powerhouses that can help decrease inflammatory processes and the risk of chronic disease. Check out how phytonutrients protect the body:6

  • Lutein or zeaxanthin- These phytonutrients found in green leafy vegetables get incorporated into the retina of your eyes, protecting them from ultraviolet damage. Shine on safely with the help of phytonutrients.
  • Carotenoids- This compound is responsible for eye-popping pigments found in orange fruits and vegetables, which work to keep your immune system soaring.
  • Catechins- A phytonutrient found in apples, berries, grapes, and tea that helps protect and preserve brain cell structure. Talk about a mind-blowing compound!
  • Curcumin- This mellow-yellow spice found in turmeric acts as a natural detoxifying agent. I recommend freezing the root in 1-inch pieces and adding it to your smoothies.
  • Resveratrol- Found in peanuts, this nutrient helps protect cells from dying.

Protecting your neurons

Like the ultimate superhero crew, each phytonutrient plays an essential role in protecting your body. Many phytochemicals can also help improve interneuron signaling, allowing neurons to properly communicate with one another. Since neurons are the working units of your brain, it’s vital to protect them through food. Keep the mind sharp one phytonutrient-rich meal at a time!6

Some plant-based foods provide exceptionally high antioxidant content, which contributes to longevity. These particular ingredients often get labeled as “superfoods.” That being said, while certain foods have higher levels of antioxidants, they are not all necessarily absorbed by the body.

Some may not be bioavailable or may need to be consumed with other nutrients to be best absorbed. However, the general recommendations are still to consume antioxidant-rich foods since they correlate to positive health outcomes.1 Keep calm and veg on!

Managing your symptoms

Managing Parkinson’s disease can be a challenge, but it doesn’t have to define your existence. With a little help from Mother Nature and her nutritious contributions, one can address symptom management and work towards a possible neuroprotective treatment. To learn more about antioxidant-rich foods like herbs for Parkinson’s disease, see Herbs: A Powerful Antioxidant Source for Parkinson’s Disease.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The ParkinsonsDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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