What Is The Role Of Fat In The Diet Of People With PD?

There’s evidence that fatty acids, derived from dietary fat, may play a role in the progression of PD. Scientific studies indicate that the risk of developing PD is higher in people who eat saturated (animal) fat than those who eat polyunsaturated (fish) fat.

Thus, the prevalence of PD is one third lower in Japan, a fish-eating nation, than in America, a meat-eating nation.

Decreased saturated and increased polyunsaturated fats play a major role in slowing, halting, and preventing atherosclerosis, heart attack and stroke. Regulation of dietary fat may play a similar role in slowing or halting PD.

Evidence suggests that inflammation, the result of an over-production of “bad” versus “good” omega 3 fats may be responsible for the atherosclerotic plaques that clog arteries, resulting in heart attack and stroke.

The brain is 60% fat but, unlike the body where fat is mainly a source of energy, fat in the brain forms the outer membranes of the one hundred billion neurons, or brain cells. It is thought that Lewy bodies may have defective fatty membranes, containing the wrong ratio of “good” to “bad” fats and, because the cell’s membranes are not solid walls, toxic substances might leak back into the cell and destroy it.

The source of “good” or omega 3 fats are the fatty acids called EPA and DHA. Fatty fish such as herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, and tuna are rich in omega 3 fatty acids. However, some of these fish have, concentrated in their fat, toxins such as mercury. As a rule herring, salmon, and sardines have lower levels of mercury than other fatty fish.

Changing to a diet higher in polyunsaturated and lower in saturated fatty acids, rich in essential fatty acids, and balanced toward omega-3/omega-6 fatty acids decreases the risk of death from heart attack and stroke. By decreasing inflammation, such a diet may also be helpful in slowing the progression of PD.

Patients recently diagnosed with PD should consider adopting a diet lower in saturated fat and higher in polyunsaturated fats: a “heart and stroke friendly” diet, as well as taking fish oil in doses of at least 1 gram three times a day.