Parkinson’s disease: Difficulty swallowing? One drink people with the condition can enjoy

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive condition that can negatively affect day-to-day living, particular how a person swallows. Dietician Jane Clarke recommends one special drink to bring the joy back into drinking.

“Over the years I’ve been in practice,” began Clarke, “I’ve worked with many people.”

The dietician has worked alongside small children, the elderly and those suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

She added: “I’ve noticed that patients who are unable to eat whole foods, love to hear about the food you had been eating, as if they could enjoy it by proxy.”


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Saddened by those affected by Parkinson’s, Clarke has observed that the condition makes “chewing and managing solid foods difficult”.

“Some people with Parkinson’s may need to thicken their drinks to ensure the liquid can move more slowly in the mouth,” she explained.

“Due to this, I would recommend a ‘Nourish Drink’.”

What is a nourish drink?

“These drinks are specifically targeted at the under nourished to help build strength and endurance,” said Clarke.

It’s also beneficial for those “looking to supplement their diet and boost their calorie and nutritional intake”.

She added: “Containing 26 essential vitamins and minerals, 12 grams of protein and four hours of slow-releasing carbohydrates, these nutritious drinks are ideal for anybody facing difficulties.”

The Nourish Drinks come in a variety of flavours, including vanilla, chocolate, raspberry and mango.

Clarke continued: “Some people who can’t swallow easily may require a PEG, which is a tube inserted directly into the intestine or stomach – sometimes via the nose – through which nourishing liquids can pass.

“What it can’t do is provide the sensory joy of food and eating.”

A witness to those gaining nutrition from a PEG, Clarke recognised that people with Parkinson’s “can still enjoy the sensation of food in their mouths”.

“It could simply be a sip of soup, a drop of a Nourish Drink, or a smidgen of Greek yoghurt,” she mused.

The Parkinson’s Foundation states difficulties in eating and drinking can happen at any time, but tends to increase as the disease progresses.


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The charity explained that difficulty swallowing is termed dysphagia.

Importantly, this symptom of the neurological disease can lead to malnutrition and dehydration.

This is why Clarke is so vocal about helping sufferers regain control of their nutrition.

To notice the beginning of dysphagia be aware of the following signs pointed out by the Parkinson’s Foundation.

Losing weight without trying is one clue, while avoiding liquids to drink is another.

Some may experience the sensation of food being stuck in their throat, and others may drool.

Food may start to collect around the gum line, and people can suffer from heartburn or a sore throat.

It’s common for people to start coughing or choking, before, during and after eating or drinking.

Hence Clarke’s thicker nourish drink to aid swallowing.

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