The number of people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and living with this condition is on the rise, with researchers estimating that over 1 million Americans will have this devastating illness by 2020. (1)
Unfortunately, the conventional treatments available for Parkinson’s disease are limited to surgical interventions and medications that come with numerous side effects. But a growing body of research indicates that there are many modifiable risk factors associated with the condition, providing us with clues as to what measures we can take to prevent the onset of the disease. Read on to learn how to prevent Parkinson’s disease by using evidence-based dietary and lifestyle interventions.
What Is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by a gradual loss of neurons in the brain that produce the crucial neurotransmitter dopamine; mitochondrial dysfunction; neuroinflammation; oxidative stress; and an accumulation of “misfolded” (malformed, and therefore dysfunctional) proteins in neurons. (One particular protein, called alpha-synuclein, plays a significant role in how Parkinson’s is diagnosed.) Together, these factors damage the central nervous system and impair motor function, causing the hallmark symptoms of PD:
- Stiff muscles
- Difficulty with standing, walking, and other bodily movements
- Involuntary movements
- Slow shuffling gait
- Difficulty speaking
- Reduced or lost sense of smell
- Reduced facial expression
Parkinson’s disease is increasingly common, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are the most common causes of the disease and 11 ways you can prevent it through diet, exercise, and lifestyle.