Skip to content

Parkinson's Disease Health Center

Select An Article
Font Size

Eating Right With Parkinson's Disease

While there is no special diet for people with Parkinson's disease, eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet is extremely beneficial. With the proper diet, our bodies work more efficiently, we have more energy, and Parkinson's disease medications will work properly.

This article addresses the basics of good nutrition. Please consult your doctor or dietitian before making any dietary changes. A registered dietitian can provide in-depth nutrition education, tailor these general guidelines to meet your needs, and help you create and follow a personal meal plan.

The Basics of Eating Well

  • Eat a variety of foods from each food category. Ask your doctor if you should take a daily vitamin supplement.
  • Maintain your weight through a proper balance of exercise and food. Ask your doctor what your "goal" weight should be and how many calories you should consume per day.
  • Include high-fiber foods such as vegetables, cooked dried peas and beans (legumes), whole-grain foods, bran, cereals, pasta, rice, and fresh fruit in your diet.
  • Choose foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
  • Try to limit sugars.
  • Moderate your use of salt.
  • Drink eight 8 oz. glasses of water per day.
  • Ask your doctor about drinking alcoholic beverages (alcohol may interfere with some of your medications).

Parkinson's Medication and Food Interactions

The medication levodopa generally works best when taken on an empty stomach, about ½ hour before meals or at least one hour after meals. It should be taken with 4-5 oz. of water. This allows the drug to be absorbed in the body more quickly.

For some patients, levodopa may cause nausea when taken on an empty stomach. Therefore, your doctor may prescribe a combination of levodopa and carbidopa (called Sinemet) or carbidopa by itself (called Lodosyn). If nausea is a continual problem, your doctor may be able to prescribe another drug to relieve these symptoms. There are also tips listed below that can help relieve nausea.

Also, ask your doctor if you should change your daily protein intake. In rare cases, a diet high in protein limits the effectiveness of levodopa.

Controlling Nausea

There are several ways to control or relieve nausea, including:

  • Drink clear or ice-cold drinks. Drinks containing sugar may calm the stomach better than other liquids.
  • Avoid orange and grapefruit juices because these are too acidic and may worsen nausea.
  • Drink beverages slowly.
  • Drink liquids between meals instead of during them.
  • Eat light, bland foods (such as saltine crackers or plain bread).
  • Avoid fried, greasy, or sweet foods.
  • Eat slowly.
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day.
  • Do not mix hot and cold foods.
  • Eat foods that are cold or at room temperature to avoid getting nauseated from the smell of hot or warm foods.
  • Rest after eating, keeping your head elevated. Activity may worsen nausea and may lead to vomiting.
  • Avoid brushing your teeth after eating.
  • If you feel nauseated when you wake up in the morning, eat some crackers before getting out of bed or eat a high protein snack before going to bed (lean meat or cheese).
  • Try to eat when you feel less nauseated.

If these techniques do not seem to ease your queasy stomach, consult your doctor.

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Parkinsons disease illustration
Causes, symptoms, and treatments.
hands on walker
How does the disease progress?
 
man with serious expression
8 common questions and answers.
intelligence quotient illustration
What are the advantages of DBS?
 
Parkinsons Disease Medications
Article
Questions Doctor Parkinsons
Article
 
Eating Right
Article
Parkinsons Exercise
Article
 
daughter consoling depressed mother
Article
senior man's hands
Article
 
Parkinsons Daily
Article
Acupunture
Article
 

WebMD Special Sections