A diet high in fish could be the key to preventing Parkinson’s disease, a new study from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden found.
According to the study, Parvalbumin, a protein found in high quantities in several different types of fish species, could stave off the degenerative disease by preventing the formation of certain protein structures closely associated with it.
Although fish has long been considered a healthy food for its high content of omega-3 and -6 fatty acids and their long-term positive cognitive effects, the new research shows parvalbumin may also contribute to the prevention of Parkinson’s.
Parkinson’s is a disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine. Parkinson’s disease symptoms include muscle rigidity, tremors, and changes in speech and gait. After diagnosis, treatments can help relieve symptoms, but there is no cure.
A signature marker of Parkinson’s disease is amyloid formation of the protein alpha-synuclein. The researchers discovered that parvalbumin forms amyloid structures that combine together with the alpha-synuclein proteins and “scavenges” them, using them for its own purposes in a way that prevents the harmful proteins from forming potentially destructive structures later, according to the study.
Because parvalbumin is so abundant in fish, increasing intake of this food could be one easy way to thwart Parkinson’s disease , a neurodegenerative disorder of the central nervous system that results in tremors, balance problems and limb rigidity.
Co-author Nathalie Scheers, an assistant professor in the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering at Chalmers University, said in the study that fish are more nutritious at the end of the summer and levels of the beneficial protein are higher because they’ve been exposed to more sun.
“Fish is normally a lot more nutritious at the end of the summer, because of increased metabolic activity,” Scheers said. “Levels of parvalbumin are much higher in fish after they have had a lot of sun, so it could be worthwhile increasing consumption during autumn.”