Parkinson’s News for the week of December 2, 2016
A weekly roundup of Parkinson-related news stories you may have missed, or might want to read again. Plus delicious recipes to boost the brain and nervous system.
Click on the green headlines to read the news articles below
Although this was an animal study, these findings have turned theories of the origins and cause of PD upside down. We have known for some time that the gut bacteria in people with PD are different from those of other people. Although genetics, trauma, pesticides, and other factors no doubt play a role, it could be that these microbes are also a factor, and that has implications for future treatment.
Caltech scientists have discovered for the first time a functional link between bacteria in the intestines and Parkinson’s disease (PD). The researchers show that changes in the composition of gut bacterial populations–or possibly gut bacteria themselves–are actively contributing to and may even cause the deterioration of motor skills that is the hallmark of this disease.
The alpha synuclein proteins are an important and beneficial protein in the brain. But for reasons we don’t understand, they can begin to bind together into unnatural and harmful clumps. By studying the abnormal ways this protein folds, scientists hope to learn how it contributes to PD, and find ways to prevent the harmful folding process.
New research helps to explain how alpha-synuclein — the defective protein causing Parkinson’s disease — achieves its structure in neurons. These findings may help understand how aggregates of alpha-synuclein form in the brain of a Parkinson’s patient.
Stem cell research is in its early days, so it’s too early to make predictions for success in treatments and cures. The possibility of producing new neurons to replace those lost in PD is exciting, however. We can certainly hope for success, particularly as the Fox Foundation is now funding two such projects.
“The complexity and mystery of brain diseases make them incredibly difficult to understand and to treat,” says MJFF CEO Todd Sherer, PhD. “Stem cell technologies may offer a more sophisticated dopamine replacement approach and provide the opportunity to study the influence of disease and of interventions on these vulnerable cells.”
Some folks with PD find they gain weight, often due to less physical activity. Artificial sweeteners seem promising, because they don’t add calories like sugar, honey, and other sweeteners. However, researchers have noted that in fact, aspartame does not seem to help with weight loss. Now they think they may know the reason why. For more on aspartame and PD see my post Aspartame – Does it Affect PD?
“Sugar substitutes like aspartame are designed to promote weight loss and decrease the incidence of metabolic syndrome, but a number of clinical and epidemiologic studies have suggested that these products don’t work very well and may actually make things worse,” says Richard Hodin, MD, of the MGH Department of Surgery, the study’s senior author.
Many people can use aspartame safely, but not all. For people with PD, there are further implications; see my post: Aspartame – Does it Affect PD?
It’s important to know what you are eating – and important to understand the way marketing works: In a move to cover up it’s bad reputation, aspartame may be disguised as a new name in your favorite foods – aminosweet.
Crisp Apple and Almond “Cereal”
Less than 15 minutes
Cereals can be a source of highly-processed ingredients. Try a bowl of this fruit-based “cereal” for breakfast. Apples are a good source of the powerful antioxidant quercetin. Almonds have the natural forms of vitamin E, along with fiber and heart-protecting fat; and cinnamon and ginger are rich in antioxidants. A powerful way to start your day.
Forget the sugar-coated cereal of your childhood—kick-start your day with a healthy bowl of this apple-based “cereal.”
A frittata is good any time – morning, midday, or evening. This recipe is especially nice because the quinoa (which cooks very quickly – ten minutes) not only has complete protein but is fiber-rich as well. Use whole-wheat bread crumbs, and lots of herbs. Did you know rosemary has been found to enhance memory, parsley contains magnesium, oregano has antibacterial properties? Herbs can be one of our greatest allies in fighting disease.
As always, be sure to check out Nutrition U Can Live With for more delicious and healthy recipes geared towards those with Parkinson’s Disease!