Following the alternative Mediterranean diet appears to lower the risk of contracting several prodromal symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, according to the results of a study from Harvard University.
Prodromal symptoms are non-motor symptoms that manifest themselves years or decades before the onset of a disease and indicate that a person may be at higher risk for contracting that disease.See Also: Health News
The study, which was published in the scientific journal Neurology, analyzed data from 47,679 individuals that had been collected during two long-term, large-scale studies: the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.
Dietary information was collected at four year intervals from the participants, beginning in 1986. Participants’ adherence to the different dietary patterns, including the alternative Mediterranean diet – a scoring system used by researchers to determine how closely the MedDiet is followed – and the alternative Healthy Eating Index (aHEI), was then calculated.
At first, researchers focused on participants who had responded to a 2012 survey regarding constipation and rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder, both of which are prodromal symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
A few years later – in 2014 and 2015 – the researchers followed up with 17,400 participants who had responded to the 2012 survey and asked about a wider range of prodromal symptoms, including loss of the sense of smell, alterations in the color vision, excessive daytime sleepiness, depression and bodily pain.
A comparison of participants’ symptoms and diets found that higher adherence to the two diets was inversely associated with symptoms. Adherence to the alternative Mediterranean diet reduced the chances of prodromal symptoms occurring in 33 percent of participants. Those following the aHEI diet saw a reduced chance of 32 percent.
“While this study does not show cause and effect, it certainly provides one more reason to include more vegetables, nuts and legumes in your diet,” Samantha Mosberry, a co-author of the study and researcher from Harvard University, said.
“More research is needed to determine if a healthy diet could delay or even prevent the development of Parkinson’s disease among people who already have these prodromal symptoms,” she added.