Are you familiar with Parkinson’s Disease? Most people aren’t─until they have to be. April is
National Parkinson's Awareness Month, shining a spotlight on a progressive neurodegenerative
disorder that affects 1 million people in the United States. Although the causes of Parkinson’s
disease (PD) remain unknown, a number of factors that increase the risk of developing it have
PD occurs most often in later life, and disproportionally affects men, who face almost twice the risk of developing the condition as do women. Like Alzheimer’s, PD is a progressive disease, meaning that once you’re diagnosed, it normally worsens over time. As for risk factors, certain “Parkinson-like symptoms” can accompany many pharmaceutical drugs.
Before taking any Rx meds, make sure you understand all possible side effects, and explore natural alternatives first! PD can also be caused by arterial disease, stroke, head injuries, and brain tumors. So, can you prevent PD? While there are no guarantees, there are some ways to proactively reduce your risk, as follows:
Protect with polyphenols
Polyphenols are plant chemicals with powerful antioxidant properties found in green tea, wine, and supplements like resveratrol─which is largely responsible for the health benefits associated with wine. Multiple studies have linked polyphenol intake with the prevention of chronic diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases like PD. Apparently, these natural compounds protect neuronal cells by shielding them against oxidative stress and damage.2
Focus on fish oil
Omega-3s─found abundantly in fish oil─are essential for cell integrity, development, maintenance, and function. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from fish oil plays a major role in vision, neuroprotection, successful aging, memory, and cell survival─in addition to its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. A multi-study review indicates that DHA-rich fish oil can help prevent Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, macular degeneration, and other brain disorders.3 DHA is also crucial for promoting/maintaining healthy cells, and restoring neural cell integrity.4
Another major PD risk factor is exposure to environmental contaminants. Research suggests
that chemical pesticides are directly toxic to mitochondria─energy producing organelles found
within your cells.5 Pesticides have repeatedly been identified as risk factors for PD,6 but you
can dramatically reduce your exposure by keeping your home and garden chemical free, and
choosing USDA certified organic foods whenever possible, including produce, meat, poultry,
soy, and dairy items.
These changes are simple, affordable, and can measurably reduce your risk, while supporting overall wellness. Now, that’s a winning combo!
1 Front Biosci. 2009 Jan 1;14:1642-60
2 Nutr Neurosci. 2012 Jan;15(1):1-9
3 AnnuRev Nutr. 2011 Aug 21;31:321-51
4 Mol Neurobiol. 2010 Jun;41(2-3):367-74. Epub 2010 May 14.
5 Biomed Pharmacother. 1999 Apr;53(3):122-30.
6 Acta Neurol Taiwan. 2005 Jun;14(2):55-60.
7 Neurotoxicology. 2012 Jan 30. [Epub ahead of print]