Is a Low-Fat or High-Fat Diet Better for Those with Parkinson’s Disease

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There is no officially known cure at this time for Parkinson’s Disease (PD), leaving those suffering from it looking for the best ways to manage and mitigate its symptoms.

But can we help mitigate those symptoms through simple dietary changes?

To start the process of investigating this question, researchers in New Zealand conducted an eight-week trial among PD patients (see, you can do this without harming animals) to observe any changes in symptoms after consuming either a low-fat diet or a high-fat ketogenic diet.

The results were very interesting and could lead to greater discoveries down the line.

The Results

After eight weeks on the diet, the researchers analyzed the patients’ scores on what is known as the MDS-UDPRS (Movement Disorder Society’s Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale), a 50 question assessment that measures motor and non-motor symptoms associated with PD.

The exam consists of four parts, with part 1 measuring non-motor symptoms and parts 2-4 measuring motor symptoms.

Interestingly, both groups saw decreases in their scores across all four parts.

However, the ketogenic group saw considerably greater improvement in their part 1 scores compared to their low-fat counterparts.

The ketogenic group saw a decrease in part 1 scores of 41% compared to 11% for the low-fat group. The largest differences between the two groups were seen in reduction of pain and other sensations, fatigue, daytime sleepiness, and cognitive impairment.

That is extremely promising, even though not a complete cure. It would be interesting to see what a longer duration on these diets yields. Would these effects continue to grow or top out?

Both groups saw a similar decrease in parts 2-4. The low-fat group did experience some excessive hunger and the ketogenic group saw some intermittent exacerbation of PD tremor and/or rigidity.

Moving Forward

This is very promising information for those suffering from PD. The possibility that fairly easy-to-implement dietary changes could reduce symptoms to such a degree without pharmaceutical intervention is amazing.

We should be on the lookout for further studies and trials that explore this further so we can determine if these results are consistent and replicable in other groups and, if so, what an ideal macronutrient ratio is.

For the time being, though, this may be something to discuss with your doctor to see if it is right for your treatment plan.

Always consult with your doctor before starting or changing any dietary or treatment plan. The information presented here is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice or to treat or cure any disease.


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