New research conducted in the UK concluded that plant-based foods could potentially reduce Parkinson’s disease risk and the risk of several other chronic diseases in some people.

The study, published in the journal Movement Disorders under the title, “Plant-Based Dietary Patterns and Parkinson’s Disease: A Prospective Analysis of the UK Biobank,” was authored by Tresserra-Rimbau and collaborators. It was a prospective cohort study among 126,283 participants from the UK Biobank to examine the association of three plant-based diets with Parkinson’s disease incidence.

The researchers used the Oxford WebQ dietary questionnaire to assess the participants’ diet-related data, which described their frequency of consumption of ~200 foods and 30 beverages for the past 24 hours. With this, they calculated a plant-based diet index (PDI), including the unhealthful and healthful plant-based diet indices (uPDI and hPDI) based on culinary and nutritional similarities of 17 food groups assessed in this study.

The study found that 577 cases of PD occurred in the UK Biobank participants, with a follow-up lasting 11.8 years. It found that participants in the highest hPDI quartile had a 22% lower risk of Parkinson’s disease, but a higher uPDI showed a correlation to a 38% greater risk of Parkinson’s disease. The authors also noted a linear, albeit weaker, inverse association for overall PDI. The authors noted no association between dairy intake and Parkinson’s disease, with higher intakes of vegetables, nuts, and tea lowering PD risk, especially when consumed in three, 0.5, and five portions/day.

It seems that differential associations between hPDI and Parkinson’s disease were significant only for those with higher education (HR 0.84), smokers (HR 0.82), and lower Parkinson’s disease polygenic risk score (PRS) (HR 0.72), suggesting that dietary intervention might exclusively benefit those without genetic risks for Parkinson’s disease.

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.