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Association of Dietary Patterns with Parkinson’s Symptoms and Pathology

Study Rationale:
Currently there is no preventive treatment for Parkinson’s disease. Our recent analyses has indicated that healthy dietary patterns such as the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) and Mediterranean diets are associated with slower progression of parkinsonism symptoms in older adults. This present study will further investigate the association of diet with parkinsonism symptoms (bradykinesia, gait, tremors and rigidity) in two large cohorts, including a biracial cohort, which can help apply these findings for a more diverse aging population. Further, to understand the mechanistic link of these associations, the study will investigate the association of diet with brain neuropathologies (Parkinson’s, cerebrovascular and other neurodegenerative pathologies) in a subsample.

We hypothesize that healthy dietary patterns are associated with slower development and progression of parkinsonian in older adults. Additionally, these associations are mediated by the effect of diet on Parkinson’s, cerebrovascular and other neurodegenerative pathologies.

Study Design:
This application proposes to leverage data from an existing longitudinal clinical-pathologic study (Memory and Aging Project) as well as a population-based cohort (Chicago Health and Aging Project), to relate the MIND diet and other dietary patterns to parkinsonian signs and pathology.

Impact on Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease:
This exploration of diet as a modifiable risk factor for parkinsonian may have a huge public health impact in preventing or delaying these common symptoms among older adults.

Next Steps for Development:
In future, a randomized controlled dietary intervention trial will be helpful in fully establishing these findings. Further, these associations once established can be a useful in promoting dietary modifications especially for the older population and families trying to delay the onset of parkinsonian signs.


  • Puja Agarwal, PhD

    Chicago, IL United States

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