According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, nearly 1 million people in the United States live with the disease — more than the number of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and Lou Gehrig’s disease combined. While studying Parkinson’s disease (PD), researchers continue to report surprising information about this progressive disorder of the nervous system. For example, surviving a heart attack can reduce a person’s risk of Parkinson’s disease by 20 percent, and where you live can affect your chances of getting the disease.
The latest findings may make you rethink your drink choice, as a new study shows that drinking a drink many people consider healthy may increase your risk of Parkinson’s disease. Read on to find out what it is.
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Public awareness of Parkinson’s disease has increased over the years, especially after actor Michael J. Fox revealed his diagnosis in 1998. The National Institute on Aging (NIH) describes Parkinson’s disease as “a brain disorder that causes unintended or uncontrollable movements, such as shaking stiffness and difficulty with balance and coordination.” The National Institutes of Health explains that symptoms tend to start slowly and get worse over time. “As the disease progresses, people may have difficulty walking and talking,” their experts say.
PD can also cause memory and sleep problems, as well as mental and behavioral difficulties. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that between 1999 and 2017, death rates for adults over 65 with Parkinson’s increased by 57 percent.
With Parkinson’s, some nerve cells (neurons) in the brain gradually degenerate or die, and many symptoms of the condition are caused by a loss of neurons that produce a chemical messenger in your brain called dopamine. “When dopamine levels are low, it causes abnormal brain activity, resulting in impaired movement and other symptoms of Parkinson’s disease,” the Mayo Clinic explains.
Scientists do not know what causes Parkinson’s disease, but it is believed that 15 percent of cases may be caused by genetic factors. Other possible causes of PD may include environmental triggers, as well as the presence of a substance in the brain called Lewy bodies. The study says on the Michael J. Foundation website. “We know that aging plays a role as well,” their experts wrote, noting also that men are more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than women.
“By the time the classic motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease appear, significant loss of brain cells and function has already occurred,” explains Healthline. “Scientists are looking at ways to detect early signs of the disease, to stop or slow its progression.”
With no known cure or cause for Parkinson’s disease, it is important to know how to potentially prevent the disease. Verywell Health advises participating in physical activity and eating a healthy, balanced diet, among other lifestyle choices. It’s also important to avoid some potential risk factors – a new study is published in Nutritional NeuroscienceReports suggest that drinking cow’s milk and consuming certain other dairy products may increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
“Several studies have found evidence of an association between Parkinson’s disease (PD) and low-fat dairy,” he says. Hussein familyMD, editor of the Brain Reference. “These epidemiological investigations conclude that the anti-epidemic effects of dairy proteins are the main reason behind this association.”
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Why might drinking milk increase a person’s risk of Parkinson’s disease? “Urate is a common waste product that results from the breakdown of chemicals called purines,” says Osama. “Urate protects the body from Parkinson’s disease, but some milk proteins (casein and lactalbumin) reduce urate production, which in turn reduces an individual’s ability to fight Parkinson’s.” (The family notes that yoghurt and yoghurt are an exception.)
This information can be confusing in light of other reports that have found drinking milk can benefit certain aspects of your wellness, such as cardiovascular health. But if you want to reduce your risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, it may be wise to rethink your beverage of choice and load up on things that have been found to be good for your brain.
“Eating foods and drinks that contain flavonoids, such as berries, apples, orange juice, tea, and red wine, may reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease in men by 40 percent,” says Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). Some research shows that drinking caffeine may reduce the risk as well.
If you’re concerned about Parkinson’s and your diet, check with your doctor or dietitian about what’s best for you.
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