Many older people will experience motor impairments, including Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s is a disease that primarily affects certain areas of the brain. Treatment for this condition still needs to be researched. One study from 2018 investigated the link between Parkinson’s disease and nutrition. There is a special diet - the MIND diet (Mediterranean DASH - Diet Intervention for Neurogenerative Delay) that has been specially formulated to promote brain health. The MIND diet is a method of eating that combines elements from the Mediterranean diet (which has been the subject of much research) and the DASH diet. DASH stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension”. The objective here is to reduce hypertensive patients’ blood pressure. To do this, lots of fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and wholegrain products are on the menu, as well as small amounts of low-fat fish and meat. Followers of this diet should steer clear of fatty meat and dairy products, sugary food and salty dishes.
In the MIND diet, it is recommended that food is split up into ten groups to improve brain function and prevent dementia. The food groups include green, leafy vegetables and other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, wholegrains, fish, poultry, olive oil and a small amount of wine per day. Nuts and/or peanuts should be eaten five times per week, for instance in the form of a peanut butter sandwich with wholemeal bread or by having a handful of peanuts as a snack.
706 participants were included in the study. Their ages ranged from 59-97 years old. When the study began, none of them had Parkinson’s disease. The study was carried out over a period of 4.6 years. Each year, all of the participants were checked over to see whether any of the four best-known signs of Parkinson’s were present. If two or more of these signs were present, the study investigators considered this to be incident Parkinson’s disease. A questionnaire was used to see which foods the participants had consumed and how often they consumed them. The result: The closer the participant’s diet was to the MIND diet specifications, the lower the likelihood that they would develop Parkinson’s was and the slower the progression of symptoms of the disease was if they did have Parkinson’s. Thus, the study results support the theory that the MIND diet, which was developed for brain health, is linked with a decreased risk of Parkinson’s disease and also slows the progress of the disease in older patients. Hence, peanuts could be an important component of a diet that has an impact on brain health in older people.
Agarwal P et al.: MIND Diet Associated with Reduced Incidence and Delayed Progression of Parkinsonism in Old Age. J Nutr Health Aging, 2018. 22(10): p. 1211-1215.