4 Research Advances in Parkinson's Prevention and Management

Parkinson's disease has garnered increasing attention in research circles, with a dedicated pursuit of understanding its causes, effective management strategies, and avenues for prevention.  In recent years, numerous studies have emerged, showcasing significant progress in these areas.  

Today we’ll explore 4 specific research findings, particularly focusing on risk factors and lifestyle interventions aimed at the management and prevention of Parkinson's. 

4 Research Advances in Parkinson's Prevention and Management 

Air Pollution Exposure and Parkinson’s Risk, 2023:  A recent study by the Barrow Neurological Institute examined data from over 22.5 million Medicare enrollees, pinpointing individuals with Parkinson's disease.  Through mapping their residential locations across the United States, researchers gauged regional rates of Parkinson's.  Their analysis uncovered a significant link between Parkinson's and average annual exposure to fine particulate matter, a common air pollutant originating from sources like motor vehicle exhaust, industrial emissions, and wildfires.  Individuals in the highest exposure group displayed a 25% increased risk of Parkinson's compared to those in the lowest exposure group.1 

SPARX Trial & More on Exercise for Parkinson’s, 2022:  Researchers from the Department of Neurology have explored numerous studies to assess the efficacy of exercise as a lifestyle intervention for managing and potentially preventing Parkinson's disease.  Exercise shows promise in addressing both motor and nonmotor symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease, including cognitive function, sleep quality, fatigue, depressive symptoms, and constipation.  Overall, aerobic exercises like walking and swimming have been found to be the most effective interventions thus far.  Ongoing studies, such as the SPARX trial, are exploring the potential benefits of high-intensity interval training (HIIT).2  This type of intervention is especially useful for those who have a sedentary lifestyle.  

REM Sleep Disorders and Risk of Parkinson’s, 2023:  Researchers conducted a systematic review of 11 studies and found that sleep problems in Parkinson's disease involve changes in certain parts of the brain.  One significant sleep issue, REM sleep behavior disorder, often happens years before other Parkinson’s symptoms and can make Parkinson’s worse.  Studies show that many people with REM sleep behavior disorder later develop Parkinson's disease.  This is because REM sleep behavior disorder and Parkinson's disease share some brain changes, especially related to dopamine, a brain chemical that is affected in the brains of those with Parkinson’s.  Brain scans also reveal differences in people with both Parkinson's disease and REM sleep behavior disorder, showing changes in certain brain areas, which make cognitive problems, like memory and thinking, worse in people with Parkinson's disease and REM sleep behavior disorder.3  These findings underscore the importance of prioritizing sleep, particularly REM sleep, early on with proper sleep hygiene and other interventions.  REM sleep is the later phase of sleep and is crucial for brain detoxification.  To learn more about what occurs in the brain during REM sleep, visit this article. 

MIND Diet and Delayed Parkinsonism, 2018:  Researchers from the Rush Memory and Aging Project conducted a study involving 1002, predominantly female population, and average age 80.3 years, investigated the association between adherence to the MIND diet and the development and progression of parkinsonism.  Parkinsonism refers to a group of neurological disorders characterized by symptoms similar to those of Parkinson's disease, including tremors, rigidity, bradykinesia (slowness of movement), and postural instability.   The results revealed a significant correlation between higher adherence to the MIND diet, lower rates of parkinsonism, and slower progression of parkinsonian signs.  Specifically, each unit increase in MIND score corresponded to a 13% reduction in the rate of developing parkinsonism.  Furthermore, participants in the who adhered the most strictly to the MIND diet experienced reduced risks by up to 42%.4 

The MIND diet focuses on protecting the brain with aging by emphasizing plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.  It also includes lean protein sources such as fish and poultry while limiting saturated fats and red meats known to increase the risk of cognitive decline.  This balanced approach supports brain health and overall well-being as we age. Explore 10 dietary strategies that could help prevent and manage Parkinson’s by visiting this article.  

It’s always best to get these important nutrients from the foods we eat, but the reality is that most of us struggle to follow the MIND diet consistently.  Our brain health supplement, RELEVATE helps to fill in gaps when your diet falls short.  RELEVATE has 17 crucial nutrients from the MIND diet which are neuroprotective, bioavailable, and include the forms/dosages your brain needs.  To learn more and order RELEVATE, click here.  

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  1. American Academy of Neurology: Neurology Resources | AAN. (n.d.). Retrieved April 23, 2024, from https://www.aan.com/PressRoom/Home/PressRelease/5053 
  2. Janssen Daalen, J. M., et al.  (2022). Lifestyle Interventions for the Prevention of Parkinson Disease: A Recipe for Action. Neurology, 99(7), S42–S51. https://doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000200787/ASSET/80E9F030-1033-45A6-9199-BEEF122E70AA/ASSETS/GRAPHIC/6TTU1.JPEG 
  3. Marafioti, G., Corallo, et al. (2023). REM Sleep Behavior Disorder and Cognitive Functions in Parkinson’s Patients: A Systematic Review. Journal of Clinical Medicine 2023, Vol. 12, Page 7397, 12(23), 7397. https://doi.org/10.3390/JCM12237397 
  4. Agarwal, P., et al.  (2018). MIND Diet Associated with Reduced Incidence and Delayed Progression of Parkinsonism in Old Age. The Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging, 22(10), 1211–1215. https://doi.org/10.1007/S12603-018-1094-5 
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