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How to Prevent Parkinson's Disease

How to Prevent Parkinson's Disease

While scientists can point out several risk factors that contribute to Parkinson’s Disease (PD) development, its exact cause is still not clear. The mystery surrounding the cause makes it even more challenging to stop PD before it happens. In this article, we’ll discuss the best practices that potentially prevent Parkinson’s disease.

Brain and Spine Disorders: Everything You Need to Know

The features of Parkinson’s Disease

Before we go to the different practices that potentially prevent Parkinson’s Disease, let’s first briefly discuss the disease’s pathological features. Pathological features are characteristics or changes common among patients of a specific illness.

In PD, scientists had discovered that patients have low levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that sends messages between nerve cells. Additionally, they have high levels of a protein called alpha-Synuclein or alpha-Syn.

Researchers have already counted these changes as a part of the possible causes of PD, but they are still trying to understand why they happen. As such, the exact cause of PD remains a mystery.

But, the good news is people can take simple steps to improve their dopamine and alpha-Syn levels. Research shows that the practices below can potentially prevent Parkinson’s Disease.

how to prevent Parkinson's disease

3 Practices to prevent Parkinson’s disease

Exercise regularly

A practical way to reduce the risk of Parkinson’s Disease is to be physically active.

Exercise is one of the recommended treatment practices for PD. Doctors emphasize that patients should build their strength, balance, and endurance as they will need them later on to combat the effects of late-stage complications.

Now, there’s a good reason to believe that exercise can also help prevent Parkinson’s Disease. Various studies point out that people with the highest levels of moderate to vigorous physical activities have the lowest PD risk. One particular study with over 213,000 participants even noted that physical activity reduces the risk by up to 40%.

How exercise helps:

While it’s not yet clear how exactly exercise helps prevent Parkinson’s Disease, researchers believe it’s because exercise offers numerous brain-protecting benefits, including:

  • Activating the neurons responsible for motor control
  • Increasing blood flow to different parts of the brain
  • Promoting neural plasticity, which improves balance and motor control; plasticity is the brain’s capacity to make connections between brain cells
  • Reducing dopamine loss
  • Reducing the accumulation of alpha-Syn protein

What you can do:

Consider increasing your levels of moderate to vigorous physical activities. Examples of moderate to vigorous exercises are:

  • Brisk walking
  • Bicycling
  • Recreational badminton
  • Tennis
  • Hiking
  • Jogging
  • Basketball game

Just a little reminder: Don’t forget to talk to your doctor about any plans to change your exercise routine.

Drink coffee

The next simple step to take to prevent Parkinson’s Disease is to drink coffee. One study involving 8,000 Japanese-American men reveals that increased caffeine intake is related to decreased Parkinson’s Disease incidence.

What’s even more promising is that the study results were independent of other factors such as smoking. This means that increased caffeine intake reduces PD incidence in participants who were never, former, and current smokers.

The researchers also emphasized that there was no significant relationship between PD risk and the other nutrients in coffee. Likewise, the results were unaffected by milk and sugar.

Overall, the study concluded that people who don’t drink coffee are 5 times more likely to develop PD than the participants who take 28oz (828 ml or 3.5 cups) of coffee daily.

How coffee helps:

We need more studies to confirm how coffee reduces PD risk, but comments on the study mentioned that years of exposure to caffeine might counteract the age-related loss of dopamine.

What you can do:

You can consider increasing your caffeine intake. According to the USFDA, 400 mg (4 to 5 cups) of coffee daily is generally not associated with adverse effects. However, caffeine sensitivity varies from person to person, so consult your doctor first about acceptable coffee consumption.

how to prevent Parkinson's disease

Drink green tea

Finally, to help prevent Parkinson’s disease, you can drink green tea. There are still no human clinical trials that analyze the effects of green tea on Parkinson’s Disease, but scientists have identified specific components in it that may reduce the risk of PD.

How green tea helps:

Reports indicate that the polyphenols in green tea are capable of protecting the neurons that produce dopamine. Moreover, scientists highlight that the neuroprotective property “increases with the amount consumed.”

An antioxidant in green tea called Epigallocatechin Gallate or EGCG also seems to “inhibit” the protein alpha-Syn.

What you can do:

Since there are still no human clinical trials about green tea and its effects on PD risk, the safest thing to do is talk to your doctor about it.

Experts say that a few cups (up to 5) of green tea daily may offer many health benefits, but don’t overdo it. Moreover, be sure to choose high-quality green tea brands and not beverages that have a lot of added sugars.

Key Takeaways

There’s still no identified means to prevent Parkinson’s Disease. But studies show that regular exercise and the intake of caffeine and green tea might help reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease.

Learn more about Parkinson’s Disease here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Stopping Parkinson’s disease before it starts
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/06/190607110520.htm
Accessed November 19, 2020

Examples of Moderate and Vigorous Physical Activity
https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/moderate-and-vigorous-physical-activity/
Accessed November 19, 2020

Recreational physical activity and risk of Parkinson’s disease
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17960818/
Accessed November 19, 2020

Exercise helps prevent, fight Parkinson’s disease, from the Harvard Health Letter
https://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/exercise-helps-prevent-fight-parkinsons-disease
Accessed November 19, 2020

What and How Can Physical Activity Prevention Function on Parkinson’s Disease?
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7042542/
Accessed November 19, 2020

Association of Coffee and Caffeine Intake With the Risk of Parkinson Disease
https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/192731
Accessed November 19, 2020

Green Tea May Protect Brain Cells Against Parkinson’s Disease
https://www.elsevier.com/about/press-releases/research-and-journals/green-tea-may-protect-brain-cells-against-parkinsons-disease
Accessed November 19, 2020

Parkinson’s disease
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/parkinsons-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20376055
Accessed November 19, 2020

Picture of the author
Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. on Dec 03, 2020
Medically reviewed by Dr. Nicole Aliling
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