Parkinson's medication and your diet

Diet can affect how well your Parkinson's medication is absorbed. When you take your Parkinson’s medication should always be discussed with your GP, specialist or Parkinson’s nurse. 

In some people, protein (which is found mainly in meat, fish, eggs, cheese, yoghurt, nuts, beans and pulses) may interfere with the effects of their levodopa medication. Therefore it’s generally advised that you should take your Parkinson’s medication at least 30 to 45 minutes before meals.

Some people with Parkinson’s have told us that their medication is less affected by some milk alternatives, such as rice milk, although there is no actual evidence to support this.

You may also find it helpful to:

  • Reduce the amount of protein you eat earlier in the day. This may help to increase the response your body has to the medication and avoid unpredictable motor fluctuations.
  • Eat your main protein meal in the evening, as a slower response to medication may not be as important as at other times of the day.
  • If you do wish to review the timing of your protein intake, you should talk to your GP, specialist or Parkinson’s nurse, or ask to see a registered dietitian.

You shouldn’t stop eating protein altogether as it’s vital to help your body renew itself and fight infection. Reducing protein may cause dangerous weight loss.

We can’t list all the possible side effects of all Parkinson’s drugs here, but some Parkinson’s medication may cause:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • diarrhoea or constipation
  • low blood pressure
  • dry mouth
  • tiredness.

These side effects may interfere with your appetite, which may lead to you eating and drinking less. A dietitian may be able to advise you on how to manage these symptoms, especially if they affect your normal appetite.

Indigestion and heartburn

Antacids, which are used to relieve heartburn or indigestion, shouldn’t be taken at the same time as other drugs. They may have an effect on the absorption of your Parkinson’s medication.

If you do experience heartburn or indigestion, you should speak with your GP, specialist or Parkinson’s nurse, who can advise on more appropriate treatments.

There are other things you can do to reduce heartburn, such as eating smaller, more frequent meals, rather than 3 large meals a day and avoiding eating just before bed. You may also find that certain foods make your heartburn worse. For example: alcohol, coffee, chocolate, tomatoes, fatty foods and spicy foods. It may therefore be helpful to avoid or limit the specific food that affects you.

Vitamin B12 and folate deficiency

Some people who take levodopa may have lower levels of vitamin B12 and vitamin B9 (folate). Symptoms of vitamin B12 and folate deficiency can include pins and needles (paraesthesia), a sore, red tongue, mouth ulcers and disturbed vision.

If you’re worried about any symptoms you’re experiencing, you should speak to your specialist or Parkinson’s nurse.

When you take your Parkinson's medication should always be discussed with your GP, specialist or Parkinson’s nurse.

Some people with Parkinson’s may feel sick after taking medication, especially if they take it on an empty stomach.

Having a snack, such as a plain cracker or biscuit, at the same time as taking your medication can help ease this side effect. Or you may find taking medication with plenty of water can help to reduce nausea.

Your GP can also prescribe anti-sickness tablets if you do feel sick after taking your medication.

Talk to your GP, specialist or Parkinson's nurse if you have difficulty swallowing your medication. It may help to take your medication with a cold drink, such as water, squash or fruit juice, or with yoghurt.

You may also benefit from a referral to a speech and language therapist.

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Diet and Parkinson's (PDF, 5.1MB)

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Why protein is important for people with Parkinson's

Protein is the second most common compound in our bodies after water. All our organs are built from it, including our skin. It’s key for brain development, healthy bones and muscle repair. But what is protein? What types are there? And why is it important for people with Parkinson’s? We find out more.

Last updated

Next update due 2026 

If you'd like to find out more about how we put our information together, including references and the sources of evidence we use, please contact us at [email protected]