Stave off Parkinson’s with the help of a healthy Mediterranean-style diet (recipes included)
11/24/2020 / By Leslie Locklear / Comments
Stave off Parkinson’s with the help of a healthy Mediterranean-style diet (recipes included)

If you are looking for a way to stave off Parkinson’s disease, try adopting a Mediterranean-style diet.

A Swiss study found that women who adopted a Mediterranean-style diet in their 30s and 40s have a much lower risk of developing the dreaded neurodegenerative disease later in their lives.

The study, which evaluated data regarding the dietary habits of 47,128 women who had previously participated in the long-running Women’s Lifestyle and Health study, found that those who closely followed a Mediterranean-style diet had, in general, a 46 percent lower risk of developing Parkinson’s later in their lives, compared to their counterparts who were not able to follow the said diet.

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According to researchers from the Karolinska Institutet who reviewed the data, this was even more noticeable among women 65 or older, with the researchers noting that women of that age who adhered strongly to a Mediterranean-style diet had a 57 percent lower risk of developing Parkinson’s, which is considered by experts to be the second most common neurodegenerative disease worldwide.

How can a Mediterranean-style Diet stave off Parkinson’s?

According to a separate study by researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, healthy eating habits such as adopting a Mediterranean-style diet can make a person less likely to develop a “constellation” of symptoms that can precede Parkinson’s disease, such as constipation, depression, body pain, diminished sense of smell and daytime drowsiness.

These “prodromal” symptoms, the Harvard researchers said in their report, are about one-third less likely to develop in people who follow a healthy diet, compared to people with unhealthy eating habits.

According to the researchers, this could be due to the fact that a healthy diet such as a Mediterranean-style one, can help lower instances of inflammation in the body, as well as prevent the accumulation of alpha-synuclein — a protein whose abnormal buildup in the brain is being looked at as a potential cause for Parkinson’s — in the gut.

As described in their report, the Harvard team arrived at this conclusion after analyzing data from two long-running studies involving 47,679 U.S. health care professionals, noting that they used the participants’ responses to questionnaires in order to calculate diet “scores,” which they then compared to a Mediterranean-style diet.

Those who scored in the top 20 percent in terms of diet quality, the researchers said, were one-third less likely to develop multiple early Parkinson’s symptoms over 20 years, compared to people who scored low.

What foods am I allowed to eat if I get started on the Mediterranean diet?

Lest you think otherwise, there is no singular way to define a Mediterranean-style diet, mostly because it is based on the traditional cuisine of several countries bordering the sea from which it got its name.

It is, however, a diet that’s characterized by the following aspects:

  • Daily consumption of 7 to 10 servings of vegetables and fruits.
  • Regular consumption of whole grains and complex carbohydrates.
  • Regular use of healthy fats such as olive oil.
  • Twice a week consumption of fatty fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel and herring.
  • Weekly consumption of free-range poultry and eggs.
  • Moderate consumption of legumes and other vegetable-based proteins.
  • Moderate portions of milk and dairy products such as Greek-style yogurt and certain cheeses.
  • Limited intake of lean red meat and meat products.
  • Liberal use of spices and herbs to boost flavor while lessening the need for salt.
  • Moderate consumption of red wine.

One of the good things about the Mediterranean diet, as noted by its adherents, is that unlike programs like the Atkins Diet, it doesn’t really require you to overhaul the entirety of your eating habits, but rather, only restructure them.

A fan of afternoon snacks? Try replacing greasy chips with crunchy vegetable sticks! Are you a sucker for carbs? Try swapping out white rice for some quinoa, or using whole-grain pasta in place of ultra-refined noodles! The possibilities, as you will soon see, are near-endless.

Interested in trying a Mediterranean-style diet? Here are some recipes that you can try:

Greek Chicken Salad

A salad based on Greek cuisine, this recipe brings several classic flavors together into one delicious and easy to cook dish. Light and yet packed to the brim with essential vitamins and minerals, this salad is just perfect for either lunch or dinner with friends and family.

Ingredients for the salad

  • 6 cups organic romaine lettuce, or mixed salad greens, torn
  • 1 15- ounce can organic chickpeas, drained
  • 1 cup organic cherry tomatoes sliced
  • 1 cup sliced organic cucumber
  • 1/2 organic avocado chopped
  • 1/4 cup sliced organic kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup sliced organic red onion
  • Paprika, to taste
  • 1/4 cup organic extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup organic red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic peeled and minced
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients for the chicken

  • 8 ounces free-range, organic chicken breast, skin removed
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried Greek oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preparation

  1. Season the breast thoroughly with the spices, making sure to cover every nook and cranny. Let sit for about half an hour, then grill until fully cooked.
    Slice the chicken into strips.
  2. In a large serving bowl, mix the salad greens with chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, olives and red onion.
  3. Top the salad with the grilled chicken.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, oregano, sugar, salt and pepper until well-combined and emulsified. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  5. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to taste.
  6. Serve immediately.

Sicilian Caponata

A modern take on a traditional Sicilian recipe, this simple and wholesome dish is made from fresh vegetables such as eggplants and tomatoes and is best served hot with some toasted ciabatta on the side.

Ingredients

  • 100 ml olive oil
  • 3 large organic eggplants, cut into cubes
  • 2 long shallots, chopped
  • 4 large plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tsp capers
  • 50 grams raisins
  • 4 organic celery sticks, sliced
  • 50 ml red wine vinegar
  • Toasted pine nuts and basil leaves, to taste

Preparation

  1. Pour the olive oil into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or casserole, place over medium heat and add the eggplants.
    Cook the eggplants for about 20 minutes or until they are soft.
  2. Once cooked, scoop the eggplants out of the pan, leaving behind some olive oil.
  3. Add the shallots to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the tomatoes and cook until they break down.
  4. Once the tomatoes are cooked and the color has deepened, add the eggplants back to the pan.
  5. Add the capers, raisins, celery, pine nuts and basil leaves and vinegar, then season well and cover with a lid.
  6. Cook the mixture over low heat for about 40 minutes, or until all the vegetables are soft.
  7. Once the vegetables are fully cooked, remove the entire pan from the heat.
  8. Transfer the caponata to a serving dish.
  9. Serve immediately.

Mediterranean-style Baked Fish

An easy Mediterranean-style baked fish recipe, this dish boasts such an interesting blend of flavors that your friends and family will find it hard to believe when you explain that it all comes together in just under 35 minutes!

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup organic, extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small organic red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large organic tomatoes, diced
  • 10 organic garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp organic ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon organic sweet Spanish paprika
  • 1 teaspoon organic ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon organic cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon organic capers
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup organic golden raisins
  • 1 1/2 lb wild-caught salmon fillet
  • Lemon juice and zest, to taste
  • Fresh parsley or mint for garnish

Directions:

  1. Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat until it starts to shimmer. Add onions and cook for three minutes or until it begins to turn gold in color. Remember to stir regularly to prevent burning. Once the onions reach a golden color, add tomatoes, garlic, spices, salt and pepper, capers, and raisins.
  3. Bring the sauce to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium-low and let simmer for another 15 minutes.
  4. While preparing the sauce, pat the fish dry and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Set aside.
  5. Pour 1/2 of the cooked tomato sauce into the bottom of a 9 1/2-inch x 13-inch baking dish. Arrange the fish on top. Add lemon juice and lemon zest, then top with the remaining tomato sauce.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until fish is cooked through and flakes easily. Remove from heat immediately once cooked and garnish with fresh parsley or mint.

Parkinson’s disease is a very serious and dreaded disease that can strike without any warning whatsoever.

As shown by multiple studies, however, one can help stave off its development by adopting healthy lifestyle practices, such as a Mediterranean-style diet.

Sources:

ParkinsonsNewsToday.com

MovementDisorders.OnlineLibrary.Wiley.com

USNews.com

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