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Posted by on Oct 3, 2018 in Parkinson's Disease | 0 comments

In a nutshell

This study evaluated the safety and effectiveness of a low-fat diet compared to a ketogenic diet (KD; high fat and low carbohydrates) to treat symptoms of Parkinson´s disease. Researchers suggested that both diets were associated with improved symptoms in these patients.

Some background

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive disease that causes a reduction of a substance called dopamine. This affects the brain cells causing movement symptoms such as tremors and muscle stiffness and non-movement symptoms such as slowing of thought or memory deficits. Levodopa remains the standard treatment for movement symptoms in patients with PD. However, this treatment is associated with fluctuating effects. Moreover, levodopa is not very efficient in the treatment of non-movement symptoms.

Prior studies suggested that diet might help in improving the symptoms of these patients. On one hand a low fat, high carbohydrate diet may increase brain dopamine. On the other hand, a KD may increase the activity of brain cells. However, the adequate fat-carbohydrate ratio for these patients is not clear.

Methods & findings

38 patients with PD treated with levodopa were included in this study. 20 patients were randomly assigned to a low-fat diet and 18 patients to a KD. Diet duration was 8 weeks. Patients had medical visits at weeks 4 and 8 after starting the diet.

Both diets were associated with improved symptom outcomes. The most significant improvements were seen in non-movement daily living symptoms, such as urinary problems, pain, fatigue, sleepiness. Patients in the KD group showed a 41% improvement in these symptoms, compared to an 11% improvement for the low-fat diet group.

The bottom line

This study determined that both diets improved Parkinson´s disease symptoms. The ketogenic diet showed greater improvements in non-movement symptoms.

The fine print

This study had a very small group of patients. Also, the study duration was quite short. Larger studies are needed to confirm these findings.

What’s next?

Talk to your doctor about a possible diet change. 

Published By :

Movement disorders : official journal of the Movement Disorder Society

Date :

Aug 11, 2018

Original Title :

Low-fat versus ketogenic diet in Parkinson’s disease: A pilot randomized controlled trial.

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