Wellbeing and lifestyle advice

It is important to know that you can live well with Parkinson’s Disease. There are many team members to support you along the way but there are also things you can do to help keep yourself healthy and active.

Diet and Nutrition

There are no specific diets you should follow. However, you should try to follow a healthy diet and eat a variety of different foods. You should aim to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. By maintaining a healthy and well balanced diet, it can help to manage a number of problems that you may experience. These include constipation and changes in your mood and weight.

Alcohol

As long as you have no other underlying health conditions, it is fine to enjoy a glass of wine, spirits or beer every so often. People react differently to the effects of alcohol and if you are taking medication you may experience a different response than you did before you were diagnosed. As with many other things we enjoy, it can cause other unwanted effects such as weight gain, getting up to the toilet in the night to pass urine and disrupted sleep.

Constipation

When you start to experience dificulty passing stools because they are hard and uncomfortable, then it is possible that you are constipated. It can make you feel tired, nauseous and generally unwell. The most important thing to note is that constipation will effect your Parkinosn’s symptoms, in particular make you feel slower and stiffer. This is because your medication is not being absorbed properly. You can help prevent bowel problems in a number of ways:

  • Keeping active and exercising can help to stimulate your bowels.
  • Maintaining a healthy diet and making sure that you eat food high in fibre can prevent constipation.
  • Cereals such as All Bran and Weetabix at breakfast are good choices along with fruit and vegetables with your other meals.

Discuss other options including laxatives with your GP or your nurse.

Keeping your bladder healthy

­­­­Many people throughout their lives experience problems with their bladder. This is no different for men or women. There are, however, two main problems people with Parkinson’s may experience. These are urinary urgency and nocturia (a need to get up in the night more than two or three times).

It is quite common for people to reduce the amount of fluids they are drinking in order to help reduce the frequency that they are going to the bathroom. It is important you do NOT do this. It may lead to you becoming dehydrated and at higher risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Reducing the caffeine in your drinks may help, as caffeine can sometimes irritate your bladder and cause you to go to the toilet more often. There are medications and therapy available if appropriate. 

Aim to drink at least eight glasses of fluid a day (water, juices, tea, coffee, soup). Challenge yourself to increase your intake, particularly in the hot weather. The chart above shows you the colour of urine and whether you need to drink more.

Note that some medications can make your urine appear darker (for example, Entacapone).­­ 

Sleep

There are many things in everyday life that can have an impact on our sleep. Factors such as stress, heat, pain, alcohol and anxiety can all disrupt sleep. Some medications can also have an effect on your sleep pattern.

You may experience daytime sleepiness ie feeling extremely tired and having to take naps through the day. This can have an impact on your sleep at night, resulting in you waking up earlier or not being able to fall asleep at all. You may also experience difficulty moving around in bed, which can lead to feelings of frustration and anxiety before bedtime.

There are things that you can do to help make your sleep more restful. For example, avoid drinking alcohol and caffeinated drinks late in the evening. It is important that you do not cut down your fluid intake as this may lead to you becoming dehydrated and at risk of urinary infections. Drink plenty throughout the day and reduce the volume you drink in the evening. You may require aids such as urine bottles, incontinence pads or protective bedding.

Relaxation before you go to bed is useful. Switch off your electronic devices and TV, try to keep calm and get comfortable in bed. Try to focus on sleep and not your worries and concerns. Keep your bedroom dark and at a comfortable temperature.

It is easy to stay in bed for longer in the mornings, even when you are awake. Try to get into a routine. Go to bed when you are ready to sleep and get up as soon as you are awake and able to get up. Lying in bed for long periods trying to get to sleep can make you feel more anxious and unsettled, leading to you getting up, or becoming more frustrated about not being able to fall asleep.

Medication can make you feel sleepy but try to keep yourself active in the day if you can. You may need to discuss this with your consultant or Parkinson’s Nurse at your appointment.

Last updated 22 November 2021