Parkinson’s and Diet – Interview with Dietitian Amy Peng
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Parkinson’s and Diet – Interview with Dietitian Amy Peng

Parkinson’s and Diet – Interview with Dietitian Amy Peng

In recognition of Parkinson’s Awareness Month in Australia, we spoke with Brighton Spine and Sport’s Dietitian Amy Peng. Amy who takes a special interest in the area, explains how she works with a patient who has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and the role nutrition can play in reducing their symptoms.

Can you tell us a little bit about how you work with a patient that has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s?

During the dietetic consultation, we often talk about practical dietary strategies in the management of Parkinson’s disease such as timing of meals and potential impact of other dietary components on action of medications, eating enough to prevent malnutrition etc. We may also discuss specific diets (Mediterranean, MIND, Ketogenic) that may help manage Parkinson’s disease.

In your experience, where have you seen success in helping treat a person with Parkinson’s symptoms? (Either diet or movement)

Through dietary intervention, we have seen improvement of Parkinson’s symptoms, such as constipation, reduced appetite, gastroparesis and dysphagia.

What could a patient with Parkinson’s expect from a session with yourself? And what should they bring with them?

We will be talking about what you eat and how often you eat, lots of food talk! You can take photos of your typical meals/snacks and show me. Please bring a current list of your medication and your latest blood test results.

Why is the area of interest to you? And what do you know about the current research that relates back to what you can offer the patient in clinic?

I did a presentation to Parkinson’s Victoria (now known as Fight Parkinson’s) right after I graduated from university and it gave me the opportunity to learn more about this condition. As a dietitian I am seeing more and more people with Parkinson’s and I strongly believe that nutrition can play an important role in managing some of the non-motor symptoms associated with Parkinson’s. In particular, changes to the way you eat and drink can help deliver levodopa to your brain in a more consistent manor which in turn can help your motor symptoms. Research suggests high adherence to the MIND diet is associated with slower progression of parkinsonian signs with more moderate protective associations observed for the Mediterranean diet. A ketogenic diet has been shown to improve certain symptoms of Parkinson’s in several small studies. The great news is that research in the field of nutrition and Parkinson’s is growing and ongoing so watch this space!

In addition to the work Amy does around nutrition, Darren Lau who is one of our Physiotherapists here at BSSC who also has a special interest in the area, and treats a number of patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.

You can book in with Amy or Darren through HotDoc here, or call the clinic on 03 9596 7211

If there is a part of your condition or injury that you are struggling to understand, be sure to seek clarification with your medical professional. None of the information in this article is a replacement for proper medical advice. Always seek advice from your trusted medical professional regarding your health and/or medical conditions.