Parkinson’s Disease, Muscle Cramps, and Bananas
In a recent article I read, 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. 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 functions when there is a drop in the levels of their blood potassium. Mild weakness to paralysis can be 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 Disease?
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.