Defeat Diabetes

Breakthrough: How a low carb diet is changing lives for Parkinson’s patients

2 mins read

Every day in Australia, 50 people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, making it the second most common neurological disorder in the country. 

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects movement, causing symptoms such as tremors, stiffness, and balance issues.

With the incidence of Parkinson's increasing at a rate of 4% each year, it costs the healthcare system approximately $10 billion annually. Amid these rising numbers, a ketogenic (keto) diet, known for its low carb and healthy fat content, has shown great potential in improving symptoms of Parkinson's disease (PD). 

A recent study has provided compelling evidence supporting these findings and highlights the benefits of a ketogenic diet for people with PD.

Study highlights:

  • Symptom reduction: Participants following a ketogenic diet experienced a significant decrease in motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

  • Improved quality of life: Those on the keto diet reported better overall quality of life, including enhanced daily functioning and reduced fatigue.

  • Sustained benefits: The benefits were immediate and sustained over a longer period.

What did the study entail?

The study observed the effects of a ketogenic diet on people with Parkinson's disease over six months. Participants were divided into two groups: one following a ketogenic diet (less than 16 grams of carbohydrate, 75 grams protein and 152 grams of fat a day) and the other following a low fat, high carb diet. What Were the Results?

Participants on the ketogenic diet showed significant improvements:

  • Motor symptoms: There was a marked reduction in tremors, stiffness, and slowness of movement.

  • Non-motor symptoms: Participants experienced fewer issues with mood, sleep, and cognitive functions.

  • Sustainability: Participants on the ketogenic diet maintained these improvements throughout the study duration, suggesting long-term benefits.

One participant’s family member reported improved communication: “I thought he could talk better. I thought his facial expression was better”. 

Another participant reported improvements in sleep and energy levels, saying, “I don't feel general fatigue like I used to, and I rarely need to take a nap during the afternoon like I often would before the change in eating. I have more energy in general, partly because I have been sleeping better.”

These findings provide compelling evidence for considering a ketogenic diet as a first-line approach to managing Parkinson's disease symptoms. 

Defeat Diabetes member Shane was diagnosed with PD before being told he had type 2 diabetes. He reported a reduction in hand tremors after starting the Defeat Diabetes Low Carb Program and a host of other benefits: “Weight loss, my blood pressure has improved, I’ve reduced my medications and increased my energy levels. My GP couldn’t believe the results!”

Importance of long-term dietary changes

Following a low carb or ketogenic diet can be a rewarding lifestyle change, but they require long term committment from the individual to sustain the benefits shown in the study. The Defeat Diabetes Low Carb Program is a proven way to improve blood glucose levels, which increases insulin sensitivity and reduces inflammation in the body, a key marker of conditions including Parkinson’s disease.

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