This blog was written by Sean Holbrook. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.
A slow twitch.
An uncontrollably shaky hand.
Both are easily passed off as nothing, but this is just how Parkinson's starts. This degenerative central nervous system disease eventually leads to difficulty walking and talking, and even cognitive function.
Currently there is no known cure for Parkinson's, but there is a recent increase in funding toward research for Parkinson's disease because of President Obama's reversal of restrictions on use of stem cells in research. The increased funding has led to research in additional areas regarding Parkinson's disease, including lifestyle habits.
New Study Offers Parkinson's Prevention Hope
A new study by the Harvard School of Public Health shows that men who ate a diet rich in foods containing flavonoids were 35 percent less likely to develop Parkinson's disease. Researcher Xiang Gao stated that the study suggests that a group of flavonoids known as anthocyanins may have a neuroprotective effect.
The study looked at the responses of 49,281 men and 80,336 women who participated in the Nurses' Health Study. Participants were followed for 20 to 22 years and filled out food questionnaires. The researcher calculated flavonoid intake based on the responses of five flavonoid-rich foods, including tea, berries, apples, red wine, and oranges/orange juice. No real link was identified for women, but both men and women who ate the most foods rich in anthocyanins, berries, and apples had a 22 percent lower risk of Parkinson's disease.
Antioxidants and Balanced Diet Limit Risk for Many Diseases
The benefits from a healthy antioxidant-rich diet full of berries, citrus fruits, teas, and even chocolate are well known because of their ability to prevent cardiovascular disease, several types of cancers, premature aging, and the list goes on and on. This study does not prove that berries or a diet rich in antioxidants will prevent Parkinson's disease. This was an observational study that lends more support to the fact that eating a well-balanced diet and making healthy lifestyle choices can be a limiting risk factor later in life.