A Thought in Regards to Soda and Bananas…

20130118-040429.jpgIn an article I read awhile back, the author brought attention to the fact that a review of people who drank between two to nine liters of cola a day are susceptible to the disease known as Hypokalemia. Nowhere in that article did it state what Hypokalemia is. Now, you may know what that is, but I didn’t and so, I went researching.

Hypokalemia is a condition where there is a low concentration of potassium in the blood. People with this condition have vital muscle malfunctions when there is a drop in the levels of their blood potassium. Mild weakness to paralysis are in the range of symptoms.
Researchers in Greece conducted the review. They had two patients in their review group who they admitted to the hospital. Both were pregnant and showing low potassium levels. Both drank anywhere from one to seven liters of soda a day. That’s a lot of soda. One was suffering from a heart blockage and low potassium levels while the other was suffering from muscular weakness. (My first reaction was, what in the world is a pregnant woman doing consuming any caffeine product at all, not to mention in those quantities?! Have they not heard what caffeine does to an unborn child?!?)

Upon giving up their soda habits, both recovered. It is noted they also were given oral or intravenous potassium. It was stated that glucose, fructose and caffeine could contribute to the condition. These three ingredients are the most common found in cola.

Okay, so you may ask, what does this have to do with Parkinson’s?

Maybe nothing. Maybe something.

Cola-induced hypokalemia is said to not have been determined as of yet. In the review, however, it was thought to have extreme impact, due to the caffeine and fructose levels.
While mild hypokalemia usually has no symptoms, moderate hypokalemia symptoms might include constipation, muscle weakness, cramps during exercise, thirst, fatigue, and/or leg discomfort. Since severe symptoms are dangerous, it is important to talk to your doctor if you think you may have low potassium levels. You can replace potassium lost during heavy exercise by drinking sports drinks that contain electrolytes.

Potassium-rich foods include sweet potatoes and baked potatoes, as well as tomato paste, tomato juice and tomato sauce. Beans, soybeans, lentils, yogurt and low-fat milk, tuna, halibut, rockfish, cod, bananas, peaches, prunes, apricots, cantaloupe, and spinach are also high in potassium. A healthy diet will include these foods and the need for supplements will not be necessary.

My thought is this: If cola could potentially have this effect on a review of people in Greece, I wonder what significance it could have in PD patients who are already susceptible to leg cramps, restless leg syndrome, other muscular aches and pains. It may be worth cutting out the soda habit for a month or so and replacing it with bananas, high in potassium, and see if the muscle fatigue and pain decrease. Might be worth a shot.

PD and Ulcers… The Connection

imageOddly enough, one of the latest breakthroughs in PD research has to do with the gastrointestinal tract.

Recently, researchers in Denmark have made a significant discovery that tells us that Parkinson’s disease may not necessarily begin within the brain but may, in fact, find its origin in the GI tract. This brings the community – it’s patients, it’s caregivers, doctors, specialists, and researchers – closer to understanding just what it is that causes Parkinson’s disease.

The off-the-chart Denmark study showed that even before their diagnosis of having PD, patients were dealing with gastrointestinal issues that patients who had been previously diagnosed with PD struggled with, such as constipation.

15,000 medical records were researched and examined of patients who had the vagus nerve in their stomach removed as means of an ulcer treatment. Over 20 years, the odds of developing PD was cut in half. Patients who had the nerve only partially removed did not experience reductions.

One author of the Denmark study stated that constipation is often a factor in patients with Parkinson’s disease before they are even aware they have PD. She went on to say that this could a major breakthrough – finding a common link between the vagus nerve and PD.

This study certainly gives credence to an earlier study done in 2011, when a US study brought to light that the bacteria that causes stomach ulcers may be culprit to PD. Studies have also linked the vagus nerve and PD in animals.

Interesting…

Get It Out

imageLast summer, the findings of a study conducted by the University of Houston were released regarding the well being of female breast cancer survivors, specifically Chinese women. This ethnic group was chosen primarily because of the stigma cancer holds within the Chinese community.

“Unlike the Caucasian population, many Chinese have less knowledge of breast cancer and they feel that the cancer is very threatening, and they associate it with immediate death,” said Qian Lu, assistant professor and director of the Culture and Health Research Center at the University of Houston.

The study, which was published in Health Psychology, a scholarly journal, was based upon writing. Each of the 19 participants in the study (based in the Los Angeles area) were given health assessment questionnaires before the study began, followed by three sets of instructions.
In week one, patients wrote about their deepest thoughts/fears/emotions in regards to their experience with breast cancer.

Week two, they wrote about coping mechanisms they used to relieve stress brought on by the disease, and in week three they were to write about their positive thoughts and feelings. The patients who put in 20 to 30 minutes each day regularly (3-4 days per week) for the three week period saw positive change in relationship to their immune system.

The report stated that the purpose of the writing exercise was “to facilitate emotional disclosure, effective coping and finding benefit, which would work together to bring stressors and personal goals into awareness and regulate thoughts and emotions relevant to the cancer experience.” It also went on to say that the “release offered by writing had a direct impact on the body’s capacity to withstand stress and fight off infection and disease.”

So – what’s this have to do with Parkinson’s disease?

I don’t think Chinese women have an edge when it comes to writing about their illness, disease, sickness, heartache, joy and/or thanks-givings. No – I believe that writing is good for anyone’s mind,  soul,  heart, and  spirit. You can scratch down (or type out) your thoughts and feelings and say whatever you choose in regards to how you’re feeling. It’s a release of pent up frustrations, anger, fear, confused thoughts, sorrow, grief – the list could go on and on. It’s a release when no one else will listen or when no one may understand. It’s called journaling. It’s therapy in its least expensive form (besides the one on one sharing of conversation between two good friends).

Journaling (or as the study referred to – writing) will not cure cancer. It will not cure Parkinson’s. But it will allow for a place to dump the stress and walk away, perhaps leading to a feeling of life being a bit lighter. When you’re body isn’t focused on fear, grief, sorrow and the like, it has a greater capacity to “withstand stress and fight off infection and disease,” as Lu stated above. Journaling offers the opportunity to get out your fears without feeling foolish. To release the grief over feeling you’ve lost something valuable. To be thankful for what you do have.

And that last sentence is important…

If you spend your time journaling everything negative about your life with PD, your life with PD will be anything but positive. There are still good and beautiful things to behold in the midst of this journey. So, if you are thinking about journaling your life with Parkinson’s disease, either as a patient or a care giver – release the fears, the unshed tears, the grief and the sorrow onto paper but make sure you include and end with the positive. Always end with something positive.

It’s there. I promise.