Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a central nervous system disorder in which the region of the brain that controls movement deteriorates. This neural deterioration results in decreased dopamine levels, the brain chemical that controls coordinated movement.
Dopamine plays a major role in a variety of mental and physical functions, including:
- Voluntary movement
- General behavior
Parkinson’s now afflicts roughly 1.5 million people in the United States alone, with primary symptoms being body tremors, slow movement, rigid limbs, reduced memory, a shuffling gait and speech impairment. So we have to ask:
1.) What causes it?
2.) How do we prevent it?
Currently there isn’t a known cure, and it’s not fully understood what causes the dip in dopamine; however, we know that aging is the single most important risk factor for PD, with inflammation and stress contributing to cell damage. And we now know enough about the disease to understand the preventative measures that counter the aging and death of the neurons under attack.
Because there is no known cure, it’s critical that we prevent the disease before symptoms arise. Granted, thanks to recent advancements in modern surgical procedures, there are some safe surgeries that can mitigate some of the more severe symptoms associated with PD. The most common one now is deep brain stimulation, in which they implant an electrode into the brain that can stop some of the more severe symptoms of Parkinson’s.
But this article will try to keep it from getting to that point. The less drugs and surgery we can have in our lives, the better.
7 Ways to Prevent Parkinson’s Disease
Go Organic (and Local)
Pesticides and herbicides have been heavily implicated in causing Parkinson’s. Researchers have found high levels of pesticides/herbicides in the brains of Parkinson’s sufferers, compared to those with regular dopamine levels. Furthermore, agricultural workers who find themselves exposed to these pesticides have significantly higher rates of PD than the general public.
But while organic is generally a safer bet than conventional, there are still some pesticides and herbicides farmers can legally use on their crops while hanging onto that organic label. This is why knowing the origin of your food is more important than ever before, so get to know your local farmers, join community-supported agricultural programs (CSAs), or start your own garden patch – the best kind of local.
Plus, if you’re concerned about your carbon footprint, keep this in mind: The average foodstuff is shipped 1,500 miles before it finds itself on a supermarket shelf. That’s a lot of fuel to deliver what you can find in your backyard or around the corner.
Eat Fresh, Raw Vegetables
If you needed more reasons to eat your vegetables, this should be the clincher. Studies show that increased amounts of the B vitamin folic acid, found primarily in vegetables, can significantly reduce the risk of Parkinson’s.
The best sources of folic acid are simultaneously some of the healthiest foods on the planet, namely dark green vegetables like broccoli, spinach, collard greens, brussels sprouts, asparagus and okra – all of which can be grown in your backyard! This B vitamin can also be found in avocado, legumes and lentils.