Parkinsons Disease

Stress – how this affects Parkinsons – Ali's story

A few weeks on since we started working with Alison to get her life and health back in balance, it has been a huge learning curve for us all.

As naturopaths we had clear ideas on the changes we felt Ali needed to make to her diet and lifestyle, taking into account the medications she takes.  But what we have learnt is just how finely tuned these changes needed to be for someone with Parkinson’s disease.

What is hugely apparent to us and to Ali now, is just how much any underlying or obvious stress affects her symptoms.  She has had many worries of late, regarding her home, employment, finances, her own health and the health of her elderly mother.  All of these take an enormous toll on her ability to function in her daily life.  When under any stress her body is severely affected and her muscles can completely seize up which is extremely painful. The difference we have witnessed in her on a day when all seems to be heading in the right direction is huge.  She can walk well, talk well and appear relatively ‘normal’, but receive some bad or uncertain news and the change is dramatic.

We knew that Ali needed to vastly increase her intake of water (this is true for many of us as well)  Water is needed by every cell in the body to function . When we are under stress we put our adrenals under more pressure so more water is needed.  Sipping water throughout the day keeps the body well supplied and avoids frequent trips to the toilet, which is what happens if you gulp down two pints when you suddenly remember that you haven’t had any all day! Actually having a glass of water beside your bed and starting the day by drinking your first glass, is an excellent way to wake the body up and start the metabolic processes.

We encouraged Ali to eat good protein which would not only keep her fuller for longer, but is essential to help make enzymes and hormones and build muscle, cartilage, bones, skin and blood.  What we now know is that some protein can affect the absorption of Ali’s medication, slowing it down or blocking it, with painful consequences for her.  Meat protein which by nature is quite fibrous and takes a long time to break down in the stomach is definitely worse and is best left until after her last meds at 7pm.  So steak definitely in the evening, not lunch!  Fish protein and pulses seem to be more tolerated particularly when in the form of a pate or dip; for example a smoked mackerel pate.

What is also very important for Parkinson’s is that Ali doesn’t skip meals so she maintains steady blood sugar levels and avoids possible nausea when taking her medications. It is also vital to eat enough quality food and not to reduce calories too much,  as Ali found out.  We will cover more on this in future posts where we ask the question  “are you eating enough ?”

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