Smart Eating

 John Pepper here,

I'm going to give you a brief description of eating smart, when you have Parkinson's disease.  Like so many other health problems you might experience, Pd is made infinitely better with smart eating.

How smart is your eating?

What and when you eat can make a big difference to how successful you are in dealing with your Parkinson’s disease?

 If you take any medication containing levodopa:

Protein in the gut competes for levodopa. That means that if you have any protein in your gut, when you take any medication containing levodopa, the protein will compete for that levodopa and much, if not all of that levodopa will be utilized in the gut and not get to the brain, where it is needed. Sometimes doctors increase the dosage of the levodopa to counteract this problem instead of persuading the patient to alter the time he/she eats, either before or after taking the medication. It is bandied about that food needs three quarters of an hour to get out of the stomach, but I would think that an hour would be safer, if not more. You are taking the medication to increase the dopamine in the brain, and if none of it gets into the brain then you are just throwing away a lot of money and you are not getting the benefit of that medication.

To find out what foods contain protein you should Google, "Food containing Protein". That will give you a list  of all the foodstuffs involved. You would be amazed at how many breakfast foods contain protein!

I have heard patients say that they cannot wait for an hour before eating, either before or after taking medication. Well, that is their choice! In order to make up for the loss of the levodopa in the stomach they will have to take a lot more medication, at added expense and increased occurrence of side effects. That is a foolish attitude to take. Either change the food you choose to eat or make some other plan!

There is one type of food you should not eat if you take levodopa medication. That is Grapefruit, either in liquid or solid form. Look up Google, "Grapefruit, Parkinson's disease"  to find out why.

 If you take Azilect, Eldepryl or Parkilyne:

These are MAO-b inhibitors: That means that they inhibit the natural breakdown of dopamine in the brain. Why would we want to break down and lose any dopamine, if we are short of it? That is a good question and the manufacturers have given us a medication to overcome the breakdown.

This should mean that you should be taking less or no levodopa, until these medications cease to inhibit the breakdown of dopamine in the brain. It should be the first medicine prescribed, but not being a doctor I am sure that many of them will give me reasons why they don't do this.

Are there any foods that we should not eat if we take any of these medicines? Yes. Because these medicines also stop the breakdown of Tyramine, which builds up in body and causes high blood pressure. we should avoid eating foods containing high levels of tyramine

What food contains high levels of tyramine? Google, "Tyramine, food" and get the full list. The main ones are: Warmed-up food, Mature Cheese, Over-ripe fruit, processed foods and Jerky (Dried meat).

I took Eldepryl for eight years and towards the end of those eight years, my blood pressure started rising to ridiculous heights. I had not been warned about this problem, with the result that my blood pressure reading on a visit to my doctor was 260/190. I should be dead! I was told by the specialist that the cause could only be medication related. (I think, having my list of medications, he knew a thing or two). I stopped taking all my medication, which was only one tablet per day for the Pd and two tablets per day for the blood pressure and the ectopic heart condition. I went for several months without those tablets and my blood pressure slowly came down, close to normal. Then I started to take the blood pressure tablets, one at a time, to see if it affected my blood pressure negatively. None of the blood pressure pills did, that left the eldepryl. I started taking them again and low and behold, the blood pressure started to climb again.

Why hadn't I been warned about this? Why did I put my life at risk even taking those pills? Had I gone to my neurologist he would probably have blamed the previous neurologist who first prescribed them, or said he thought he had told me. There was nothing I could have done about it.

When you were diagnosed:

1. Were you made aware of when you should eat?

2. Were you told when to take your medication, in relation to your food?

 If your reply to either one or both of these questions was no, then you should ask your neurologist why not?

Did the medication cause any other health problems that I should have been made aware of?

YES!  I also suffered a blocked bowel, when my wife and I went on a high protein diet. This put me in hospital, after the first day of taking that diet. I was not to know that this diet is very bad for someone taking an MAO-b inhibitor, but it may not have been reasonable to have expected the neurologist to have warned me against this possibility!

Is there anything relating to food, in my book, about which the medical profession should not, or could not be expected, to know?

Is there anything relating to food, in my book, about which the medical profession should not, or could not be expected, to know?


Then why are Parkinson’s disease sufferers not being told about all this, or was I just unlucky?

Does the news of new developments in medicine not get passed on to the medical profession, on a regular basis, or is it up to the busy doctors to keep up-to-date on all the new medications and their possible side effects, and what foodstuffs to avoid? We have to assume that the drug companies tell the doctors all about the way their medications work and the possible side effects.

So! Where does this problem arise?

We have to assume that all neurologists should know what we should or should not eat, while we take the medication they prescribe. We should therefore expect to be told these things.

Why has my news not been investigated, over the past nine years, since my book first hit the market? Why did I find it necessary to write a book, in order to bring this to everybody’s attention? I was naive enough to think that my recovery from Parkinson’s disease would have been good news to the medical profession; but sadly, it was not. This should have been expected! Medicine is a very conservative profession. A single incidence like this would normally be expected to be viewed with suspicion, unless it started happening to lots of people. But there were unusual circumstances relating to my case, which may never have happened before!

Would it be reasonable to assume that this may not be good news to the pharmaceutical industry, some of whom have been made directly aware of what has happened to me?

To healthy eating,

John Pepper