What Foods Should You Include in Your Parkinson’s Regimen?

Written by Contributor. Posted in Featured, Health & Wellness

Published on November 24, 2021 with No Comments

By Evelyn Chona-Morrison, board of NWI Parkinson’s Foundation

Registered Dietitian, Jerome Sabo, presented to a full house of Parkinson’s patients and their caregivers at the October support group meeting for the NWI Parkinson’s Foundation. Mr. Sabo is Methodist Hospital’s Senior Dietitian with over 20 years of culinary and clinical nutrition work experience. 

Mr. Sabo stated getting back to natural eating, along with portion control and exercise, are the keys to optimal health. Portion control is important because it allows you to get a handle on how many calories you are consuming. It allows you eat what your body needs, instead of mindlessly overindulging. Exercise assists your body with absorbing and mineralizing nutrients into the bone. Also, sweat from exercise can possibly remove some toxins and excessive nutrients (like sodium) from your body. Exercising 3-5 times per week for 30-60 minutes is recommended by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. You should only initiate an exercise program per your Primary Care Provider’s advice.

A Mediterranean diet supports gut motility, a healthy gut microbiome, and promotes intake of phytochemicals/nutrients to fight Parkinson’s disease. Some research indicates that the Mediterranean diet can reduce Parkinson’s disease, as well as other diseases including, cancer, coronary heart disease, depression, and Alzheimer’s. Overall, the Mediterranean diet includes an emphasis on fruits and vegetables (especially dark leafy greens), legumes, fish, whole grains, and extra virgin olive oil. 

Foods associated with slowing the progression of PD symptoms include:

  • Fresh and/or frozen fruits and vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fish (non-fried)
  • Avocado, extra virgin olive oil, grape seed oil, and extra virgin coconut oil
  • Spices
  • Wine (Red wine) in moderation
    • Women: Up to one 5 oz glass daily
    • Men: Up to two 5 oz glasses daily

Foods associated with rapid progression of PD symptoms include excessive intake of:

  • Canned fruits and vegetables
  • Diet and non-diet soda
  • Fried foods 
  • Beef
  • Dairy foods, like ice cream and cheese

Fiber and Protein Tips

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends an intake of 20-35 grams of fiber daily. Ways to increase fiber intake include, switching to whole grain breads and cereals, such as oats, barley, quinoa, amaranth, teff, brown rice, etc.  You may also add bran cereal to your breakfast menu, or alternate a variety of whole grain breads and cereals for more variation.  Reading labels is important to determine the nutritional content of foods.

Protein is necessary to help build muscle mass.  As we age, hormonal changes, inactivity, and dietary deficiencies reduce muscle mass. This can contribute to illness and an increase in injuries.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Protein ranges from 0.8 – 1.0 g/kg body weight per day. Therefore, the acceptable amount of protein intake for a 132 lb (60 kg) person is 48-60 g per day.  Divide the 48-60 g protein per day by 3 meals to get the recommended grams of protein per meal.  

For example:

1 kg weight = 2.2 lb

132lb ÷ 2.2lb/kg = 60kg

60kg x 0.8g protein/kg = 48g protein/day  AND  48g protein/day ÷ 3 meals = 16g protein/meal            

60kg x 1.0g protein/kg = 60g protein/day  AND  60g protein/day ÷ 3 meals = 20g protein/meal

Food Drug Interactions

  • Levadopa (the drug that treats Parkinson’s) should be taken 30-60 minutes before a meal or per your physician/ pharmacist advice
  • Protein should be divided equally among three (3) meals.
  • Snacks should be no protein or low in protein if consumed within 1 hour before or after taking Levadopa medication 

Advice from Mr. Sabo:

-Think increase plant proteins (legumes, nuts, seeds) & omega-3 fatty fish (salmon, tuna, trout, sardines, and herring).

-Think Fiber, like whole grains, whole fruit/ vegetables/ nuts/ seed/ legumes

– Healthy Microbiome: Greek yogurt, fermented foods, etc 

-Choose Monosaturated Oils (Olive, Peanut, Avocado)

Quotes from Jerome’s Seminar:

“There is no such thing as a Parkinson’s Diet.”

“Food is more than something to eat.”

“Enjoy and be social. Be spiritual and relax.”

Speak specifically with your medical provider or your registered dietician for specific diet restrictions and if supplements are indicated with an appropriate diet.  


Pearls of Wisdom monthly support group seminars are held at the NWI Parkinson’s Foundation located at 2927 Jewett Avenue, Highland, Indiana, 46322. Weekly programs are held for PD patients and their caregivers.  A holiday wellness party will be held on Thursday, Dec. 30 at 11:00 a.m.  For additional information and to RSVP contact call 219-237-2342, 219-789-3949 or visit www.nwiparkinson.org


Evelyn Chona-Morrison is a retired business professional with 40 years of experience in healthcare marketing. She retired from Methodist Hospitals and her experience includes public relations, business development, fundraising and community service. She is a proud graduate of Indiana University’s Kelly School of Business and Davenport College. She serves on the boards of NWI Parkinson’s Foundation and United Way of Northwest Indiana. She is enjoying her retirement doing volunteer work, spending more time with her family, and traveling. She was born in Colombia, South America, and is bilingual in Spanish.

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