This guest post by Melody Barrens from The Tactical Kitchen is all about treating and preventing Parkinson's Disease with a Paleo diet.
Some people come to Paleo because they feel it can help them lose weight or feel better.
I came to Paleo searching for information on Parkinson’s Disease, just one in a sea of autoimmune diseases.
Do I have Parkinson’s Disease? No.
But Parkinson’s Disease has taken some special people I love dearly down a very difficult road. It took my favorite of these people, my Dad, Jesse.
On that list of people are also my aunt, step-father, two uncles, a handful of cousins, some distant relatives and close family friends. Some of these beautiful people have passed on to the next life and some still fight in their increasingly defiant bodies.
It seems like each time I speak to my mom she’s telling me about another family member who has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer's , or ALS, all of which are progressive neurodegenerative diseases. I never knew my paternal grandmother because she passed at the young age of 54 from ALS, which, like Parkinson's is a progressive neurodegenerative disease. As you can see, this is a little personal for me.
I remember the first thing we all noticed about my dad was his chronic fatigue. Then the scooting of his feet when he walked. My mom having to slow down her gait for my dad to catch up was foreign. He was a hard-working man who had built his own concrete business; he didn’t mess around when it came to getting somewhere in hurry!
When we got the word in 1996 that my dad was officially diagnosed we didn’t know much about the disease, and what we learned wasn’t inspiring.
We learned that it would steal my dad long before his body gave out. We learned that hallucinations and exaggerated muscle movement would be the norm. Still, my dad was always positive. I never heard him say, “Why me?”
There were moments of hilarity, like the time he informed us about the huge dogs in the backyard. Thinking he was hallucinating, we just laughed, only to turn around and see HUGE dogs in the backyard. Of course, long before that we'd heard him tell us about a “circus out front,” which did NOT exist, so you can understand our tentative feelings about the dogs.
The sheer number of people in my family with progressive neurodegenerative diseases made it seem as though the deck was being stacked against us.
When I began my search into Parkinson’s, I was looking to find answers about how this disease is “born.” I didn’t want it, and I didn’t want anyone else to have it!
My search led me to Dr David Perlmutter's a "neurologist with a mission to uncover the food, the facts, the science to control your genetic destiny." His belief is that grains, wheat, and processed sugar are silent killers of the brain. Could this be true?
Did we have too much of those in our diet? Yes! How could I remove those? Enter Paleo.
The best way for me to explain Paleo and Parkinson's is by telling you some good news and some bad news.
Here's the good news. You own a Ferrari. It's called your body, and it is a high performance machine.
Here's the bad news: Most people don't realize they own a Ferrari, and they dump all kinds of crappy fuel into it.
If you have a Ferrari you don’t dump junky gas into the tank and expect it to win championships (or even run!)
Food is our fuel, but due to “Big Food” industry practices over the years we have been dumping items that look like food, but aren’t exactly real, into our bodies and expecting them to perform.
In order to get "safe" food to everyone, Big Food makes sure to add stabilizers and preservatives, both natural and synthetic, to almost everything they make. Plastics, oils, fake colors, lots of sugar, and lots of high processing all contribute towards food that can last a really long time and look good on a shelf. Of course, those things can cause problems when you actually eat them; who wants plastic in their guts?
The next time you eat, think about that one.
With all that in mind, what did we do to combat Parkinson’s and the likelihood of onset? We started with gluten. We dropped that like the toxic poison that it is. We eventually dropped grains, at least 99% of the time. We are human and sometimes find ourselves in situations where grains happen.
We changed to organic produce for the things that mattered the most. We eat pasture raised, free range, organic, you name it, animal products. We think of the kitchen as our armory in this battle. We are stock piled with dark leafy greens, healthy fats, and beautiful meats.
I don’t feel the slightest tinge of shame when I tell someone that we go through grass-fed butter and eggs like Chuck Norris goes through bad guys. Maybe it gets a little weird if we tell people about slathering cow fat on our skin after a shower, but it’s only weird for them.
I get it, eating Paleo can be a challenge logistically and financially. For me, having stared Parkinson's in the face, I'm willing to meet and surmount those challenges if it gives us a stronger chance of not having to face that again.
Something amazing happened when we did this “Paleo” thing. We felt awesome. Our 12 year old went from failing all classes to being an A/B student with a great attention span.
This was the best bonus! We had homeschooled for 2 years prior because of attention problems at school. Now, he’s back in school and doing awesome! Diet and nutrition made the difference!
Do I believe eating and living a Paleo lifestyle can prevent Parkinson’s Disease? Yes. I do. At the very least, I strongly believe that it can and will diminish the likelihood of developing any number of autoimmune diseases.
I believe that health begins with diet, that Parkinson's can be avoided, and that when it comes to fighting these autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases we must arm ourselves with the right kind of ammunition, whether it's in the form of information, ingredients, or recipes. This is a battle we can win. Paleo, or at least good clean eating, is where we have to chosen to stack our ammo.
For more writing, info, and recipes from Melody and the Tactical Kitchen, cruise on over to their website and check it out. If you're the Twitter type, check out their feed. For you Instagrammers, here's where to follow 'em, and for you Facebook fans, like 'em here. Enjoy!
Too much reading...
How about dessert?