Customized nutrition for Parkinson's disease patients
Parkinson's disease is the second most prevalent neurodegenerative disorder, characterized by both motor and non-motor deficits. It's cause has not yet been elucidated and no treatment has yet been discovered. The current therapies predominantly relieve motor symptoms. The non-motor deficits include sensory symptoms such as the loss of taste and smell, but also various gastro-intestinal symptoms, including dysphagia, nausea and bloating. In these symptoms diet could play a role in symptom relief. The objective of this research project is to evaluate the potential role of a customized diet as an adjuvant therapy in Parkinson's disease This was achieved by through 2 research lines. The first research line involves the direct impact of diet on Parkinson's disease, with a focus on the use of thickened liquids in dysphagia and the identification of food odors by hyposmic patients. Bolus modification is one of the management strategies of dysphagia, which consists of softening solids and thickening liquids to ensure safe swallowing. There are already different thickening agents on the market, both starch- and gum-based, however, they have a negative impact on taste and texture. This results in aversion of patients towards the therapy and low treatment compliance. The objective is to improve the taste, aroma and texture of thickened liquids. This may lead to a higher compliance and consequently an improved quality of life. Parkinson's patients often already suffer from hyposmia, impacting the flavor perception of food and reducing patients' quality of life. Identification of food odorants that are well recognized by Parkinison's patients may aid in the development of aroma boosters.The second research line involves the indirect impact of diet, herein we take a closer look at the involvement of the gut-brain axis in the pathology of Parkinson's disease and the possible use of food-based therapies. The bacterially-produced short chain fatty acids are implied to have beneficial effects in Parkinson's disease, however short chain fatty acid-producing bacteria are reduced in Parkson's patients. The objective is to stimulate short chain fatty acid production in vitro in fecal samples of Parkinson's patients, using different types of dietary fiber.