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Health and Wellness

Parkinson’s Disease and Nutrition

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Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic movement disorder. PD involves the failure and death of vital nerve cells in the brain, called neurons. Some of these neurons produce dopamine, a chemical involved in bodily movements and coordination. As PD progresses, the amount of dopamine produced in the brain decreases, leaving a person unable to control movement normally.

Primary motor signs of Parkinson’s disease include the following:

  • Tremor of the hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face
  • Bradykinesia or slowness of movement
  • Rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk
  • Postural instability or impaired balance and coordination

Common nutritional concerns for people with Parkinson’s disease are:

  • Unplanned weight loss
  • Difficulty eating due to uncontrollable movements
  • Swallowing dysfunction
  • Constipation
  • Medication side effects (e.g., dry mouth)

Nutritional concerns vary by individual based on signs and symptoms and stages of disease. It is important to work closely with a doctor or dietitian to determine specific recommendations.

When it comes to nutrition, what matters most?

  • Increase calories. If a tremor is present, calorie needs are much higher. Adding sources of fat to foods (e.g., oil and cheese) is one way to do this.
  • Maintain a balanced diet. Eating properly involves eating regularly. If uncontrollable movements or swallowing difficulties are making it hard to eat, seek the advice of an occupational or speech therapist.
  • Maintain bowel regularity. Do so with foods high in fiber (whole grain bread, bran cereals or muffins, fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes) and drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Balance medications and food. Individuals taking carvidopa-levadopa may need to adjust the amount of protein eaten and the time of day it is eaten, or take their medication with orange juice. If side effects such as dry mouth are making it difficult to eat, work with a health care professional to help manage these.
  • Adjust nutritional priorities for your situation and stage of disease.

Check with a dietitian or doctor for your specific dietary needs.

Active Aging Redefines Health and Wellness

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What does it mean to be healthy as we get older? For most of us, it’s simply the opposite of illness. And staying healthy equates to managing diseases and chronic conditions.

But there is a movement to expand the definition of health and wellness in order to accommodate the idea that being healthy is the process of getting the most out of what life has to offer — regardless of physical age.

Click above to learn more about active aging.

Giving Thanks!

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Happy Thanksgiving! What a wonderful thing!  A whole day dedicated to giving thanks for what we have individually, and as a family or group!

If you are looking for a reason to be thankful, research has shown that being thankful is actually good for your health. Can an “Attitude of Gratitude” really change your health?

Click above to learn more.

Peg’s Perspective: Human Connection and Mirror Neurons

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Do you ever wake up and feel like you can conquer the world?   Yes—me too! And, if you carry that mood with you all day, chances are many people will pick up on it. They may say things like “You’re in a good mood today,” or “You look good today!” or many other phrases that we love to hear.  But have you ever stopped and asked yourself how these people know that you’re in a good mood? Or how your positive mood is impacting those around you?

Click above to learn more!

Staying Hydrated When It’s Hot!

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It’s summer, we are naturally spending more time outside. Enjoying our time playing with grandkids, gardening, and long neighborhood walks are many of the highlights of summertime. Make sure you stay hydrated while you are living life well this summer!
The Wesley Communities Dietician, Lisa Kaylor Wolfe, shares her suggestions on staying hydrated in the heat of summer.

Healthy Comfort Food Recipes

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Typically, when you think comfort food, you think large portions with lots of cheese (and maybe a little grease)! We tend to eat comfort food when it’s cold outside or when life gets tough. But, giving into these cravings too much could be bad for your health. It may result in feeling even worse or gaining weight. Check out these tips for when you have a strong comfort food craving.

Tips for eating your favorite comfort food:

  • Stop when you are full. Often, when eating comfort food we eat far too much. Why? Well, because it makes us feel good. Try to slow down when eating these foods. This will not only allow you to enjoy all of the flavors, but you’ll recognize when you are full, before it is too late.
  • When you just have to have that mac and cheese, then do it. But, make a conscience decision. Ask yourself, when is the last time I treated myself to something I enjoy eating, but isn’t the best for me? If it was last month, go for it. If it was breakfast this morning, maybe you should skip out this time.
  • Recognize your triggers. Many times, we can stop ourselves from our cravings if we recognize what is triggering those cravings. Let’s say, for example, you always want chocolate cake after a rough day. The rough day is the problem, not the fact you are craving the cake. You may spend all your time saying, I will stop craving chocolate cake verses, I will take time out of my busy days to take care of myself. By focusing on the problem, not the reaction to the problem, you may be able to limit these cravings.
  • Modify your favorite comfort foods! There can be many different substitutions for things to make a healthy alternative to your favorite comfort foods, see below to ideas.

Healthy comfort food ideas:

Turkey Chili

Take a note from one of our chef’s favorite dish, Turkey Chili. This spin on traditional comfort food is a healthy alternative! The Turkey Chili recipe combines beans, turkey, veggies and spices for a nutrient dense meal.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Trick yourself into thinking you’re eating pizza with this healthy crust. Top this heathy crust with veggies and you’re in for a full stomach.

Spinach Artichoke Lasagna

This is a great option for a weekend night, or dinner party. It takes more time to prepare, but your family and friends will thank you!

What are your favorite comfort foods?