Middle aged people with a healthy diet less likely to develop Parkinson's symptoms

A healthy diet in middle age can reduce the risk of developing Parkinson's disease, suggests a new study. Eating plenty of vegetables and nuts was linked to fewer symptoms that may precede the debilitating disease, according to the findings. While movement issues are the main symptoms of Parkinson's, people with the disease often have non-motor symptoms including constipation, daytime sleepiness and depression 10 or more years before the movement problems start. The new study, published online by the journal Neurology, suggests that eating a healthy diet in middle age may be linked to having fewer of these preceding symptoms. Study author Dr Samantha Molsberry, of Harvard University in the US, said: "While this study does not show cause and effect, it certainly provides yet another reason for getting more vegetables, nuts and legumes in your diet." The study involved more than 47,000 people who were asked about their diet every four years, starting in the 1980s when they were middle-aged. In 2012, the participants were asked whether they had two conditions that are common in people who are later diagnosed with Parkinson's disease: constipation and a sleep problem called rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder, which includes acting out dreams during sleep by movement such as flailing arms or shouting or screaming. In 2014-2015, 17,400 of the participants were asked about five more symptoms that can precede Parkinson's disease: loss of sense of smell, impaired colour vision, excessive daytime sleepiness, body pain and depression. The researchers looked at how closely people's diets followed either the alternate Mediterranean diet, which is similar to the Med diet but includes only whole grains and does not consider dairy, or the Alternative Healthy Eating Index. Both diets encourage eating fruit, veg, whole grains, nuts and legumes and discourage eating red meat. They divided the participants into five groups based on how closely they followed the diets. The study found that the people with the highest adherence to the diets were less likely to have three or more symptoms that precede Parkinson's disease than the people with the lowest adherence. Those in the high group for adherence to the Mediterranean diet were 33 per cent less likely to have three or more symptoms than those in the low adherence group. The results were found after researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect the risk of developing the preceding symptoms, such as physical activity, smoking and body mass index (BMI). The researchers found a similarly strong relationship between following the Alternative Healthy Eating Index diet pattern and having three or more of the non-motor symptoms. Among the 29,899 women in the study, 37 per cent of the low adherence group had constipation, compared to 32 per cent of the high adherence group. Of the 11,493 women with all of the non-motor symptoms measured, 15 per cent of the low group had body pain, compared to 13 per cent of the high group. In the same 11,493 women, 17 per cent of the low group had symptoms of depression, compared to 14 per cent of the high group. Among the 17,770 men in the study, 22 per cent in the low adherence group had constipation, compared to 12 per cent of the high adherence group. The researchers found that eating more vegetables, nuts, legumes and consuming a 'moderate' amount of alcohol were all associated with a lower risk of having three or more of the preceding symptoms. Moderate alcohol consumption was considered no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men. Dr Molsberry added: "We need to emphasise that, while these symptoms are associated with an increased risk of Parkinson's disease, especially in combination, experiencing any or several of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that a person will eventually develop Parkinson's disease."

Middle aged people with a healthy diet less likely to develop Parkinson's symptoms

A healthy diet in middle age can reduce the risk of developing Parkinson's disease, suggests a new study.

Eating plenty of vegetables and nuts was linked to fewer symptoms that may precede the debilitating disease, according to the findings.

While movement issues are the main symptoms of Parkinson's, people with the disease often have non-motor symptoms including constipation, daytime sleepiness and depression 10 or more years before the movement problems start.

The new study, published online by the journal Neurology, suggests that eating a healthy diet in middle age may be linked to having fewer of these preceding symptoms.

Study author Dr Samantha Molsberry, of Harvard University in the US, said: "While this study does not show cause and effect, it certainly provides yet another reason for getting more vegetables, nuts and legumes in your diet."

The study involved more than 47,000 people who were asked about their diet every four years, starting in the 1980s when they were middle-aged.

In 2012, the participants were asked whether they had two conditions that are common in people who are later diagnosed with Parkinson's disease: constipation and a sleep problem called rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder, which includes acting out dreams during sleep by movement such as flailing arms or shouting or screaming.

In 2014-2015, 17,400 of the participants were asked about five more symptoms that can precede Parkinson's disease: loss of sense of smell, impaired colour vision, excessive daytime sleepiness, body pain and depression.

The researchers looked at how closely people's diets followed either the alternate Mediterranean diet, which is similar to the Med diet but includes only whole grains and does not consider dairy, or the Alternative Healthy Eating Index.

Both diets encourage eating fruit, veg, whole grains, nuts and legumes and discourage eating red meat. They divided the participants into five groups based on how closely they followed the diets.

The study found that the people with the highest adherence to the diets were less likely to have three or more symptoms that precede Parkinson's disease than the people with the lowest adherence.

Those in the high group for adherence to the Mediterranean diet were 33 per cent less likely to have three or more symptoms than those in the low adherence group.

The results were found after researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect the risk of developing the preceding symptoms, such as physical activity, smoking and body mass index (BMI).

The researchers found a similarly strong relationship between following the Alternative Healthy Eating Index diet pattern and having three or more of the non-motor symptoms.

Among the 29,899 women in the study, 37 per cent of the low adherence group had constipation, compared to 32 per cent of the high adherence group.

Of the 11,493 women with all of the non-motor symptoms measured, 15 per cent of the low group had body pain, compared to 13 per cent of the high group. In the same 11,493 women, 17 per cent of the low group had symptoms of depression, compared to 14 per cent of the high group.

Among the 17,770 men in the study, 22 per cent in the low adherence group had constipation, compared to 12 per cent of the high adherence group.

The researchers found that eating more vegetables, nuts, legumes and consuming a 'moderate' amount of alcohol were all associated with a lower risk of having three or more of the preceding symptoms.

Moderate alcohol consumption was considered no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men.

Dr Molsberry added: "We need to emphasise that, while these symptoms are associated with an increased risk of Parkinson's disease, especially in combination, experiencing any or several of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that a person will eventually develop Parkinson's disease."