Sowing the SEEDS of Wellness

Headshot of Movement Disorder Specialist Fiona Gupta
Fiona Gupta, MD
Neurologist and Movement Disorder Specialist

To communicate the importance of having a well-rounded health plan to her patients, Dr Gupta employs the SEEDS method. SEEDS stands for Sleep, Eating, Exercise, Drinking water, and Stress management and socialization.


Dr Gupta describes it like this: “When you have a deep, restful sleep, it’s like having mini janitors in your brain cleaning up all the stress.” Sleep is also helpful with dopamine production—something everyone with Parkinson’s could use more of.

It’s not just the quantity of sleep, but also its quality. If you’re having restless, fragmented sleep, your body isn’t getting the restorative sleep it needs.

Eating Well

Dr Gupta tells her patients to adopt a brain-healthy diet, which means if it’s pleasing to the eye, it’s probably pleasing to the brain. This means eating lots of colorful fruits and vegetables, food with lots of vitamin E like fish and nuts, and anything that’s high in fiber. She also recommends eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day.

Protein, which is needed for the brain, may affect the way certain Parkinson’s medicines work. So, talk with your doctor about the best times of day to eat it.


“Exercise is the only thing we know of that slows the progression of the disease,” says Dr Gupta, who adds that exercise “makes a tremendous difference. It improves agility, balance, and strength. There’s a mental health benefit, too.”

Even people who claim they can’t do anything can do something. “There are a lot of chair-based exercises out there. Every little bit helps.” Check with your doctor before beginning an exercise routine of your own.

Drinking Water

Most people don’t drink enough water, whether they have Parkinson’s or not. But since Parkinson’s makes you more likely to develop high blood pressure, staying hydrated is even more important. “Hydration,” explains Dr Gupta, “helps balance and reset the system. Dehydration and Parkinson’s lands people in the hospital more often than you might think.”

Start every day with a 12-ounce glass of water before you even get out of bed. Forty to 50 ounces of water each day is a good goal, she advises.

Stress Management and Socialization

“Stress is toxic to the brain,” Dr Gupta says. “It zaps all of that good dopamine the brain needs. A patient can be doing well and then something stressful happens and—zap—they decline.” We might not be able to change the situation, but we can change the way it’s perceived.

“When we socialize, we create all these new networks in the brain, so it’s vital for brain health.” Many of her patients have embraced virtual platforms like Zoom and FaceTime® to stay connected.

“You can’t just put a patient on a medication and expect it to work unless the non-medicinal building blocks—eating well, sleeping well, exercise, and stress management—are there. And when they are? The outcomes are significantly better.”

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