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Eating a variety of foods, regular exercise and adequate amount of sleep can help people with Parkinson’s disease to improve their health and enhance the quality of life, say doctors.

World Parkinson’s Day is marked annually on April 11 and is supported by the European Parkinson’s Disease Association.

The aim of Parkinson’s Awareness Day is to raise awareness of Parkinson’s disease, promoting a greater understanding of this condition and how it can affect a person.

Parkinson’s is a disease in which nerve cells that deliver the neurotransmitter dopamine to other cells are reduced in numbers. As cell death spreads to ever larger parts of the brain, more centres are affected. This results in an aggravation of motor and non-motor disorders.

As individuals age, the most important factor would be the quality of life they will sustain over the many years they live. Parkinson’s disease is a commonly witnessed ailment that adversely impacts the quality of a human life as they turn older.

Because the exact cause of Parkinson’s is unknown, proven ways to prevent the disease also remain a mystery.

Early onset of Parkinson’s disease can be a worrying diagnosis as it can significantly affect the quality of life of the individual and their family. When Parkinson’s is present at a younger age, it is more likely to have a genetic link.

It may also progress differently than Parkinson’s in older people. Being aware of the symptoms can help a person get the treatment and support they need at an early stage.

“While there is no prescription for a Parkinson’s disease-specific diet, to maintain overall good health most people living with this disease should eat a variety of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, milk and dairy products, and protein-rich foods such as meat and beans.

One must consider, including nuts, olive oil, fish and eggs, to your diet for their beneficial fats. Eating a variety of foods will help you get the energy, protein, vitamins, minerals and fibre you need for good health.

In advanced stages of disease, it may be required to adjust timing of protein intake according to medication schedule to improve the efficacy of drugs,” said Suresh Reddy, Consultant Neuro Physician, Aware Gleneagles Global Hospital.

“Medication aside, there are many ways people living with Parkinson’s disease can improve their health and well-being, preserve physical function, ease symptoms and enhance quality of life. Most important among these is doing regular exercise, staying hydrated and getting an adequate amount of sleep. Developing quality habits like practicing yoga, Tai-Chi, going in for massage or movement therapies, acupuncture etc. are also great means to avoid falling into the Parkinson’s disease trap,” said Abhinay M. Huchche, Consultant Neurologist, SLG Hospitals.

A. Preetham Reddy, Consultant Neurologist, Century Hospital, said: “By 2030, one in every six people in the world will be aged 60 years or above, and at that rate the share of the population aged 60 years and above will increase from one billion in 2020 to 1.4 billion. With increased incomes, people tend to indulge in habits like alcoholism, which could result in ailments like Parkinson’s disease with time. Hence, there is an urgent need to spread awareness on the risks associated with the disease and how it would have an adverse impact on the quality of life, and what preventive steps could help overcome the risks.”

“Several genetic factors increase a person’s risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, although exactly how these make some people more susceptible to the condition is unclear. Though inheritance is a rare occurrence, there is a possibility that Parkinson’s disease can run in families because of faulty genes being passed to a child from parents. Undergoing a gene map study too might not be a bad idea, if there are elders in the family suffering from this ailment,” added Ch. Vijay, Consultant Neurologist, KIMS Icon hospital, Vizag. IANS