Iron Overload

I have always viewed Parkinson’s disease as something that only effected a person’s movements. After this week, I have learned that it effects to much more than that. There are many differences in the brain from a person who has Parkinson’s disease, and a person who does not.


Parkinson’s disease is characterized mainly by the loss of dopaminergic neurons, and the formation of Lewy bodies that reside in the remaining dopaminergic neurons.   These Lewy bodies replace other elements within cells. Lewy bodies are not the only disruption in cells that a person with Parkinson’s disease has; there are also neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) present within PD patients. NFTs and Lewy bodies are very representative of PD patients, but it was interesting to learn that the amount of iron in people with PD is significantly higher than people who do not have PD.

This raised an interesting question: does the food a person eats play into the likelihood he or she will develop PD? As a class, there have been many topics that relate neurological disease to the food that is put into our body.  The relation with type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as green tea being extremely beneficial to PD patients in helping reduce oxidative stress, thus increasing the amount of properly working biological functions, has shown that what we feed ourselves may have a drastic effect on our brain’s health.

Although it should be no surprise, it is still fascinating that what we eat really does determine how healthy we are, both physically and mentally. Food and water are the resource for most of the functions our body conducts.  As time has gone forward, we have discovered that food is an important factor in our livelihood, but it takes a lot of effort to eat what our body truly needs, as well as being able to afford it. With this dilemma, companies have capitalized by selling pills, tablets, etc. to keep a person at optimal health without having to worry about what else is being put into his or her body.

This relates back to Parkinson’s disease in that those with PD have a much higher concentration of iron than those who do not have PD; is this due to an individual’s diet? There have been many studies conducted showing the benefits of a Mediterranean diet or an Oriental diet (a real Oriental diet, not one consisting of deep fried chicken smeared in some sugary sauce—it is delicious, but not very comparable to what is actually eaten in the Orient) compared to a typical diet of those who live in the United States.


The amount of red meat a person in the United States is extraordinary.  This could result in a high concentration of iron in the brain, thus being an influence on developing Parkinson’s disease. It is probably not going to fix the problem entirely if people change the way they eat, but it could be beneficial, just as drinking green tea has been shown to do.