The Best Diet for People with Parkinson’s-  WPC2019 | 8

When Life Gives You Parkinson’s

The Best Diet for People with Parkinson’s- WPC2019 | 8

In June, I will be traveling to Kyoto, Japan for the 5thWorld Parkinson Congress(WPC). WPC is a global Parkinson's event that opens its doors to all members of the Parkinson's…
May 1, 2019

The Best Diet for People with Parkinson’s- WPC2019 | 8

In June, I will be traveling to Kyoto, Japan for the 5thWorld Parkinson Congress(WPC). WPC is a global Parkinson’s event that opens its doors to all members of the Parkinson’s community, from neurologists and researchers to those living with the disease.  Since my diagnosis in August 2017, I’ve launched the podcast When Life Gives YouParkinson’s. As an extension of that podcast, I have teamed up with the World Parkinson Coalition to help preview WPC2019. 

Since my diagnosis, the most unsolicited advice I’ve received is about my diet. As a change of pace, I’m actually asking for advice today from Dr. Laurie Mischley, a naturopathic physician and nutritional neuro-epidemiologist. For the past seven years, she has been tracking 2,000 people with Parkinson’s to determine how foods, vitamins and minerals are impacting the rate of progression.

In this episode, Dr. Mischley comments on the positives and negatives of many diets that have been recommended to me including Keto, Gluten-Free, 7:1, and the 24 eggs a day diet. 

Based on her research, Mischley finds the people with Parkinson’s that are doing the best overtime, post-diagnosis, are eating fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, non-fried fish, nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, wine, fresh herbs and spices. She notes that this is closely resembles the Mediterranean diet. As important as what to eat, is what not to eat. Mischley has identified several foods associated with statistically-significant, faster than average Parkinson’s progression including dairy, beef, fried foods, soda, canned fruits, and canned vegetables.

Organic and local foods matter too. In a true or false question in her study, people who said TRUE to the statement, “I try to eat organically grown foods when possible” are doing significantly better than people who do not go out of their way to eat organic. The same thing is true for the statement, “I shop at local farmers markets, co-ops and try to eat locally and seasonally.”

It is because of research and people with Parkinson’s willing to participate in that research that there are best practices, better treatments, and continuing hope for a bio-marker and a cure. Dr. Soania Mathur is a family physician who has been living with Parkinson’s for 21-years. She is speaking at WPC2019 about advocacy and research.

“I think there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about clinical trials,” says Mathur on When Life Gives You Parkinson’s. “I think some of the barriers are probably logistical. It’s hard sometimes to fit into our schedules especially when you have Young Onset and you maybe work or raising a young family. Some of the clinical trials can be quite involved in terms of time. Some of it is that people just don’t know how to find trials they would qualify for and be in their geographical area.”

During our discussion, Dr. Mathur also outlined some key misconceptions. She notes that some people like the idea of clinical trials, but are fearful that they will lose their current medical care. Others fear they will be subjected to tests that will be painful or inconvenient. And some are concerned that they are being used as a guinea pig for potentially dangerous medication or treatment plan. The reality is while there are invasive clinical trials, there are also observational clinical trials where you fill out questionnaires, there are genetic clinical trials where you simply provide a spit sample, and there are a lot of trials where you have to go in one time and you’re not subjected to long follow up.  Without all of these types of clinical trials the science cannot progress, our understanding of the disease won’t progress, and certainly the development of new treatments won’t occur.

When you ready to participate in research, Dr. Mathur suggests you look into data bases like Fox Trial Finder, which she describes as for clinical trials. These data bases ask for your demographic information and Parkinson’s history and then suggest clinical trials near you which best suit your situation.

Each episode of the WPC2019 Podcast, I’m going to check in with James Heron, the Executive Director of the Japanese-Canadian Cultural Centre to teach us a new word or phrase and help us better understand the culture so we can avoid embarrassing ourselves or offending our hosts. This episode Heron teaches us the phrase Toire wa doko desu ka?Which translates to “where is the washroom?”

When you enter a Japanese washroom, Heron cautions that there are three types of toilets you may encounter. There is a traditional Japanese toilet. This toilet features a long porcelain trough that you squat over. You’re likely to only encounter this in the countryside and not in the cities. You might encounter a traditional western toilet. This a toilet much like we have here in North America. One difference is that when you flush, water comes out of a fountain for hand washing before being used to flush any liquids or solids. And then there is a modern or “space age” toilet. These toilets can feature lights, a seat warmer and many options for spray cleaning and drying. Heron notes there is no need to be intimidated, because there are pictures clearly identifying where water will be sprayed depending on your needs and that it is quite pleasant and hygienic. 


Follow me, Larry Gifford 

Twitter: @ParkinsonsPod


Instagram: @parkinsonspod

For more info on the World Parkinson Congress head to


Twitter: @WorldPDCongress

YouTube: WorldPDcongress

Instagram: @worldpdcongress

Thank you to:

Soania Mathur, MD and author of Shaky Hands: A Kids Guide to Parkinson’s Disease,My GrandPa’s Shaky Handsand the blog, “Designing a Cure; Living Well with Parkinson’s Disease.” Follow Soania on Twitter: @SoaniaMathur

Laurie Meschley, ND, MPH, PhD(c). You can follow Laurie’s research on her website “Education is Medicine” on her Facebook pageand on Twitter: @NatNeuro

James Heron, Executive Director of Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre  


Dila Velazquez – Story Producer

Rob Johnston – Senior Audio Producer

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