An experimental diet has had promising preliminary results for patients with Parkinson's disease. The diet consists of a menu high in fat, and nearly devoid of protein and carbohydrates.
The diet could potentially be used to help treat several neurological disorders, and possibly also fight against brain tumors.
When used on patients with Parkinson's disease, it resulted in improvements in balance, tremors and mood.
There are various theories as to how it helps, including shifting the brain's metabolism from blood sugar to ketone bodies, a secondary energy source derived from fat metabolization. Brain tumor cells cannot burn ketones, so the shift may starve diseased cells while feeding healthy ones.
This method is very similar to the ketogenic diet, which has been used for more than 70 years to control intractable seizures. Other reports cited in the USA Today article showed how ketogenic diets slow down:
The benefit of a ketogenic diet is likely related to normalizing a patient's insulin levels, a primary reason Alzheimer's occurs.
Ketosis is the natural physiologic state triggered by very low carbohydrate intake. During ketosis, a set of elaborate metabolic processes occur, which decrease insulin secretion and switch muscles from using glucose for fuel to almost entirely using fatty acids, diminishing the need for glucose by the brain.
A ketogenic diet can actually be quite healthy. In the mid-'20s to late-'30s, the famed anthropologist V. Stefansson chronicled the life and culture of the Eskimos.
Of the many observations made by Stefansson, he was most intrigued with their diet and health; in spite of a nearly 100-percent animal-based diet, the Eskimo people enjoyed an excellent state of well-being and a freedom from many western diseases.
When his observation was greeted with a high degree of skepticism in the scientific community, Stefansson devised a study whereby he would consume an all-meat diet for one year. At the year's end, he was in excellent health, with normal kidney and liver function and a reduction in body fat.
Most of you do not need a fully ketogenic diet, but Stefansson's success, and many similar stories, go a long way toward puncturing the myth that a high-fat, high-protein diet is always bad. In fact, some people thrive on just that.
Fortunately, you don't have to guess if you would benefit from a high-fat diet. If you are a protein nutritional type you will likely do much better with a high-fat, high-protein, low-carb diet.
That is not quite the same approach that is used in this study with Parkinson's, as they were really using diet to manipulate biochemistry like a drug, which is not what nutritional typing does.
Fortunately, when you are eating right for your nutritional type many of the physical underlying factors that would cause you to develop chronic degenerative diseases like Parkinson's are halted. With Parkinson's, though, there is a toxic element, as it is clearly shown that exposure to pesticides clearly increases the risk for the disease. Just one more reason to avoid using them and eat organic whenever possible.
Additioanlly, environmental toxins like mercury have also been associated with the development of Parkinson's.
Exercise can also be another helpful tool in avoiding Parkinson's.