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[back] A beauty make over and a healthy balanced diet Sivaraman Kannan - April 2005

In conjunction with World Parkinson’s Day which fell on 11th, April 2005, The Eastin Hotel , Thalia Snips Beauty Core Salon and The Malaysian Parkinson’s Disease Association  had a beauty make over  session and talk on nutrition for Parkinson’s patients  at the Eastin Hotel Ballroom on  Saturday , 9th. April 2005.

The idea of the beauty make-over was initiated by Eastin Hotel’s Communications Manager, Ms Thang Han Ni. MPDA and Eastin Hotel concur that even though one has Parkinson’s disease and has to put up with the discomfort, maintaining one’s physical appearance is of utmost importance. One does not need to go to an expensive salon or put on a designer’s dress,  but just sprucing up for the day will help chase the blues away.

Added to that a healthy and balanced diet suited for the needs of Parkinson’s patients will put the glow in you and presto, you are ready to face the world. Ms. Thang believes that there is beauty in everyone, be it the healthy or the sick.

The function started at 1.00 pm with the beauty make-over of  selected lucky PD patients at the Thalia Snips Salon in Eastin Hotel.  Four ladies  ( Amy Chow, Susie Chandy, Koo Tan Choo and Maimunah) and three gentlemen (Koh Hun Wei, Eric Yong and Hamzah)  were put to the detailed make-over in the hands of the team of artists from the Thalia Snips Salon and the transformation was excellent . All seven had their pictures taken with their respective families. Press photographers were on hand to cover the event.

After the beauty make-over, all adjourned to the Ballroom where En. Hazreen Abdul Majid, lecturer and clinical dietitian from the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of  Malaya Medical Centre, gave a talk on the importance of a Healthy Balanced Diet for Parkinson’s patients.

En. Hazreen explained that due to the effect of the disease on the patient’s nervous and muscular system, the patient may not realize their own nutritional needs and so the following points should be observed and monitored carefully and the diet be varied to suit them.

  • The timing of the meals
  • Constipation
  • Fluid intake
  • Maintaining bone strength
  • Vitamin intake
  • Heart Burn, Reflux, Ulcers and Hiatus Hernia
  • Food, Mood and Stress
  • Unplanned weight loss
  • Chewing and swallowing problems
  • Protein intake and Levadopa
  • Recipes
  • Grocery shopping list

Parkinson’s patient face a lot of risks if not properly observed due to the deterioration of their normal nervous and muscular systems. Some common risks are:

  • Risk of bone fracture
  • Risk of dehydration
  • Risk of bowel impaction
  • Risk of unintentional weight loss.

So the caregivers should consult a Dietician for advice on the patients’ diet  and follow up regularly.  The patients should enjoy a wide variety of food from each of  the five groups daily, but the quantity should vary according  to patient’s individual needs and reaction.

  •             Group 1           Carbohydrates and starchy foods
  •             Group 2           Fruits and vegetables
  •             Group 3           Dairy products and high calcium foods
  •             Group 4           Meat, fish and alternatives like beans, eggs and pulses
  •             Group 5           Fatty and sugary foods

En. Hazreen also explained the function of the food groups and the good and bad choices in the food groups. .

  • Carbohydrates                                  Basic source of energy
  • Protein                                             Building blocks for muscles
  • Vitamins and minerals                       Essential for body functions

Saturated fats, like butter, lard, coconut oil and trans fatty acids like margarine and shortening  be avoided.

Monounsaturated oils like olive oil, peanut oil and sesame oils and polyunsaturated fats  like safflower, corn and sunflower oils are good for the body.

Although older adults need lower calorie intake, their requirement for certain vitamins and minerals need to increase and supplementary intake is needed.  It is important that they eat foods rich in nutrients.  Avoid poor foods like sweets and alcohol.  Take high calcium foods like milk. Yoghurt, cheese, sardines, bean curd, red beans and dhal to maintain healthy bones.  Vitamins, especially  vitamin  D is also important.

Weight loss is common among PD Patients because the tremors use extra calories,  and the desire for food is reduced due to loss of smell and nausea . They also have difficulty in chewing and swallowing which makes mealtimes very tiring.  Poor fitting dentures do not help.  The patients are also feeling tired and weak.

Muscle wasting in PD patients makes it difficult to walk and maintain balance to perform the usual daily activities,   Zinc loss depresses the immune systems which makes it harder for wounds  and cuts to heal.   Lack of calcium makes the bones brittle leading to fracture of bones.

As the patients do not have good appetite,  they should be given nutritional  snacks..

Most PD Patients have constipation problems.. This is mainly due to the medication they are taking and also due to the degeneration of the nerves of the gastro- intestinal tract. To overcome this problem, Give the patient more fibre in their diet and increase fluid intake  such as milkshakes, coffee, soups in ddition to about eight  glasses of water daily.
PD patients also have swallowing difficulties.  Give them thicker soups so they have less to swallow.  Meat is tough if not prepared properly. So try fish which is softer.  Introduce noodles and mashed potatoes as a variation.

A patient usually finds it difficult to eat normal amount at mealtimes, so provide some nutritional snacks in between main meal times to overcome nutritional problems.  For swallowing difficulties give soft, moist foods and thicker fluids.

If the patient takes LEVADOPA with or just after meals, it would take a long time  for it to be absorbed.  A meal high in fats take a long time to clear the stomach while one high in proteins  cause less absorption  of Levodopa.

If you notice fluctuation in mobility, protein manipulation may be helpful. Reduce the protein for meals earlier in the day and have the major protein requirement for the evening meal. This will help avoid unpredictable motor fluctuation.  It is best to take medication 30 to 60 minutes before meals .

Food is for life, so take time to enjoy it. The MPDA’s guide book “Understanding Parkinson’s Disease, The Malaysian Perspective” and the Bahasa Malaysia version provide a good guide to a balance diet for Parkinson’s patients. Check with a dietician if you have any problems.

After En Hazreen finished his talk, Executive Chef of Eastin Hotel, Chew Teik Chye demonstrated a few recipes based on a menu for a light but nutritious lunch for PD patients. It consisted of tomato orange soup, whole meal rolls, salad and desserts made from fruits, yoghurt and Nutren fibre milk powder.

All those who were present during the afternoon had the opportunity to sample the food cooked during the tea break. The afternoon ge-together to celebrate World Parkinson’s Day was well received by MPDA members. The sponsors of the event are Eastin Hotel, Nestle Nutritional Products, Euro Atlantic, and Thalia Snips Beauty Core. The MPDA would like to say a big TERIMA KASIH to all the sponsors and En Hazreen who made the Saturday afternoon, an unforgettable event for all of us. We also would like to thank members of the press and 8TV who were present to cover the events.

(News reports from The Star (StarTwo,April 11, 2005) and Nanyang Siang Pau (Wilayah/Selangor  Edition, April 14, 2005) are reprinted in this issue. The 8TV telecast   the event on Tuesday, April 19 at 4.00 – 5.00 pm. in their programme “Eva’s Diaries”. A Video of the programme is given to MPDA.)