If you’re at high risk for Parkinson’s disease, then you probably want to do everything in your power to reduce your chance of getting this debilitating condition.
And now there is something you can do, according to some very exciting research out of Harvard.
This new study suggests that eating a certain type of food may help stave off Parkinson’s and the shaking, balance and movement problems that go along with it.
What’s the fabulous food, you ask?
You’ll be pleased to know that it’s delicious!
EATEN ANY GOOD FLAVONOIDS LATELY?
The study took place at the Harvard University School of Public Health in Boston. A class of nutrients called flavonoids had been shown by previous research to protect certain neurons in the brain from damage and death. Since Parkinson’s is a disease that affects the nervous system (including the brain and the spinal cord), the researchers decided to see whether eating high amounts of flavonoids and/or eating certain flavonoid-rich foods might reduce the risk for Parkinson’s. They started by asking subjects to fill out food questionnaires.
They found that men who ate the most flavonoid-rich foods (five or more servings per week) had a 40% lower risk for developing Parkinson’s within 20 to 22 years, compared with those who ate the least (less than one serving of flavonoid-rich foods per week). I don’t have to tell you that that’s a huge reduction in risk.
However, women who ate the most total flavonoids were not at any lower risk, compared with women who ate the least.
But wait a minute, women—there is something valuable for you in this study. Researchers also analyzed the data more closely to see what they could tell about the effect of consuming specific flavonoid-rich foods. These included all kinds of teas, apples, strawberries, blueberries, red wine, oranges and orange juice. What they found was that, for female participants, eating two or more servings per week of strawberries and/or blueberries, in particular, was associated with a 22% lower risk of getting Parkinson’s, compared with women who ate the least strawberries and/or blueberries (less than one serving per month).
For men, each of the flavonoid-rich foods mentioned above (not just strawberries and blueberries) seemed to reduce Parkinson’s risk.
I asked lead researcher Xiang Gao, MD, PhD, why there were different results for each gender. It could be due to the different ways that men’s and women’s bodies work—such as hormones or metabolism—or it could be due to chance, Dr. Gao said.
Regardless, strawberries and blueberries worked for both genders, with at least two servings per week being associated with less Parkinson’s for both genders. Dr. Gao didn’t study whether other types of berries (such as blackberries and raspberries) would have a similar effect, but he noted that all berries contain similarly high levels of flavonoids, so there’s a chance that they would.
A BERRY GOOD DIET
Future research will need to look at whether eating strawberries, blueberries and other flavonoid-rich foods helps those who already have Parkinson’s. In the meantime, if this study doesn’t make you start eating more strawberries and blueberries, I don’t know what will!