“You’ve got to increase the blood flow to your brain to get nutrients in and waste out for your body to heal, no matter what sickness you have.” I heard this over and over again from my son. His point was that I should help this process of blood flow by exercising. I did little or no vigorous exercise. Partly because I felt crippled by my symptoms, but if the truth be told here, the bigger reason was probably that I can be tragically lazy. Not a quality to promote if you want to get well.
Turns out, wether you increase blood flow with exercise or not, the principle is correct. To rebuild damage the body needs to take in nutrients. To eliminate inflammation the body must get rid of wastes. Disease has been linked with inflammation. This includes PD(1) and many of the symptoms that come along with it. Diet can play a major role in reducing inflammation and enhancing the body’s natural healing process.
What is the best diet? There are so many theories that claim to answer this question. I have tried a few of them. I spent many years being vegetarian and macrobiotic, then settled into being an omnivore. In June of 2013, my functional neurologist suggested a modified ketogenic diet. Research suggests that “there is evidence from uncontrolled clinical trials and studies in animal models that the ketogenic diet can provide symptomatic and disease-modifying activity in a broad range of neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, and may also be protective in traumatic brain injury and stroke.(2,2a)”
The true ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet which forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. The body converts carbohydrates into glucose, if there are very few carbohydrates in the diet, the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies. The ketone bodies pass into the brain and replace glucose as an energy source.
Having tried the high-fat Atkins diet many years before for weight reduction, with poor results, I decided to forgo the high-fat option. I found instead that the modified, high-protein, low-fat version of the ketogenic diet is very effective. It was tough to adhere to at first but now that I have gotten used to it, there is no going back. I have lost 30 lbs and have much more energy and fewer symptoms.
Essentially, I eat no starch— no grains, beans, or starchy vegetables— and no dairy or refined sugar. My diet consists of plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and animal proteins. It is important to eat a considerably larger portion of vegetables than that of proteins, and to drink more water. Eating lacto-fermented foods like sauerkraut is important too. This will help keep your digestive system moving as it should. The tendency at the beginning is to eat big portions of protein because, YOU’RE REALLY HUNGRY. After a while though, you get adjusted and your portions will get smaller and you will feel satisfied with less.
Eating a diet high in animal proteins makes it crucial to use only grass-fed, free-range and wild-caught sources.(3) Industrially raised animals and farmed fish are just too toxic. In addition, there is some research pointing to the relationship of pesticide exposure to PD(4), so using organically grown fruits and vegetables is important as well.
Other things to add are coconut products; coconut oil, coconut butter, coconut milk, and coconut water. Also beneficial are the addition of ginger and turmeric, flax and chia to your diet.
Do yourself a favor and get yourself a NutriBullet(5). It’s a great little high powered cyclonic-action blender that is a fast and easy tool for making fresh shakes with vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. It’s also handy around the kitchen for making soups, sauces and dressings. I start my day with a shake made of organic ingredients: coconut water, kale (and/or parsley, collards or other dark leafy greens), ground turmeric, fresh ginger, flax seeds, 13 drops of Biosil(6), 1 dropperful of Chloroxygen(7), and a sometimes a teaspoon of coconut butter. In just 5 minutes, including cleaning up, I can get a healthy start with this blast of nutrition.
Changing your diet, and lifestyle, takes effort and discipline but it is well worth it. Try it, and start taking back your health.
2016 update: my new shake is coconut water, dark leafy greens, thawed frozen blueberries, fresh turmeric, fresh ginger, freshly ground black pepper (to make the turmeric bioavailable), flax seeds, sunflower seeds, 2 teaspoons of spirulina powder, 2 tablespoons of goat whey protein, and 13 drops of Biosil.
Here is a great talk about healing the brain through diet: