Diet Plays a Role in Preventing and Slowing Parkinson’s

by Lois Etienne on October 26, 2010

in Senior Health and Safety

Washington Caregiver And Senior Woman Preparing MealParkinson’s disease is caused by the progressive death of the neurons responsible for producing dopamine, a neurotransmitter closely linked with movement control.

Researchers from the Université Laval (Quebec City) discovered that omega-3 fatty acids can help protect the brain from Parkinson’s disease.  Researchers believe that their findings can not only help prevent the disease but slow down its progress.*

Apparently, it’s all about balance between two fatty acid groups – omega-3 and omega-6.  According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, a healthy diet should consist of roughly two to four times more omega-3 fatty acids than omega-6 fatty acids.  The typical American diet tends to contain 14 to 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids, and many researchers believe this imbalance is a significant factor in the rising rate of inflammatory disorders in the U.S.**

Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut, other marine life such as algae and krill, certain plants (including purslane), and nut oils.  Most omega-6 fatty acids are consumed in the diet from vegetable oils such as linoleic acid (not to be confused this with alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, which is an omega-3 fatty acid).

Canadian researchers observed that when mice were fed an omega-3 rich diet, they seemed immune to the effect of MPTP, a toxic compound that causes the same damage to the brain as Parkinson’s.  By contrast, another group of mice that were fed an ordinary diet developed the characteristic symptoms of the disease when injected with MPTP.

* For more information about the study: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071126110453.htm

* * For information about omega fatty acids from the University of Maryland Medical Center:http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/omega-3-000316.htm.

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