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Water and dehydration - Is this a clue in Parkinson’s?

Updated: Jan 2, 2021

One of the remarkable things that my laboratory staff at The BioCollective found was that they were able to tell a person with Parkinson’s just by looking at their stool sample! No other information was required.

Sections of the PD stool are similar in texture to concrete. We have processed hundreds of samples and no other samples have this characteristic. And this important clue has never been reported before in the scientific literature, most likely because stool samples are not typically part of the PD work up and when they are analyzed it is typically by taking a small swab rather than looking at the entire stool.

From this finding, I spent some time researching the importance of hydration and overall brain health. Alzheimer’s disease research has shown that dehydration can impair cognitive function. In my research, I learned about something called aquaporins. Aquaporins are water channels in the membranes of cells that conduct water molecules through the membrane. Aquaporin 1 was first discovered in 1988. Since that time many more aquaporins have been discovered and connected to important functions in health and disease, including Parkinson’s. The 2003 Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded for the discovery of Aquaporins.

In 2019, researchers from Iran, showed that Aquaporin 4(AQP4) is a key player in Parkinson’s Disease. Badaut et al. 2008, found that AQP4 in the central nervous system was functioning as an osmoreceptor and regulator of body water balance and water flow in the central nervous system. Omid Reza Tamtaji, et al May 2019, showed that decreased AQP4 increased alpha-synuclein, markers of inflammation, and activation of microglia, all hallmarks of Parkinson’s.

In 2008, Researchers from Nagoya, Japan and Denver, Colorado, showed that mannitol stimulates the expression of AQP4. The BioCollective hopes to study this mechanism in the probiotic we developed to produce mannitol in the gut. Possibly one of the mechanisms of benefit could be an increase in the expression of these vital water channels.

John and I first learned about the importance of cellular hydration and Parkinson’s from John Coleman’s book Stop Parkin’ and Start Living. John, an Australian naturopath, had developed a lifestyle plan to support people with Parkinson’s that included a cellular hydration formula originally formulated for marathoners and elite athletes. This was particularly interesting to us because John had been a marathon runner prior to his Parkisnon’s diagnosis. We researched the product and even made a trip to Australia in 2009 to see the manufacturing process. John and Robert Rodgers are both US distributors of the product through HydramaxUSA and

Another symptom I hear about from people with Parkinson’s is frequent urination. The kidneys cleanse the body and remove waste through the urine. However, when people get annoyed by having to go to the bathroom too often, they reduce their intake of water and electrolytes. This is exactly the opposite of what is needed. John did this last year for several weeks because he was traveling and didn’t want to have to stop and go to the bathroom. In the end, he ended up with painful kidney stones which the doctor said was due to dehydration! So drink up!

Dehydration is common in Parkinson’s. What happens with chronic dehydration is the cells lose their ability to absorb large amounts of water. Then the water you drink goes to the intestine rather than transferring nutrients to your cells.

The answer isn’t always drinking more water because that can lead to electrolyte imbalance. You have to help your body absorb it. Dehydration is an imbalance of water and minerals. Too much water and not enough minerals is just as bad, or worse, than not enough water. That said, when looking to replace electrolytes you should avoid sports drinks like Gatorade that contain a lot of sugars.

A few ways to avoid dehydration:

  1. Drink plenty of fluids – 64 oz., or 8 - 8oz glasses of water a day

  2. Filter your water (what filtration you use) - Aquaviva Vesta H2 (installed), Berkey (countertop) or Britta (pitcher)

  3. Balance your mineral and salt levels

  4. Avoid carbonated drinks as the feeling of fullness they cause may result in less consumption of water

  5. Learn to recognize thirst, people often mistake thirst for hunger

  6. Look for electrolyte replacement drinks that are not loaded with sugars and provide a balance mineral profile, John likes Skratch Labs

We are 70% water, and water contributes to better neurological function. We can all drink to that!

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