Huntington’s disease is a genetic, degenerative disease where mutated genes create a long protein that then attacks and kills your brain cells. This leads to symptoms like tardive dyskinesia, chorea (involuntary, irregular muscle movements) difficulty concentrating, memory lapses, dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), mood swings, stumbling, and so on. While there are medications doctors can prescribe to help with symptom management, such as Austedo and Deutrabenazine, diet also plays an important role. The above-mentioned symptoms, especially chorea and dysphagia, can make preparing food and eating difficult as well as dangerous, as the jerking movements combined with difficulty swallowing can increase choking hazards and aspiration. Here are the worst foods for Huntington’s disease that should be avoided:
1. Raw fruits
In order to prevent difficulty eating and increase safety, food consistency should be taken into consideration. Raw fruits, such as apples and pears, are thicker and more difficult to swallow—something you don’t need when already facing difficulty swallowing due to dysphagia.
2. Stringy vegetables
Another difficult to swallow food is stringy vegetables, like green beans and celery. Anything that poses a risk to choking or aspiration should be avoided, making it essential that you consider the texture of foods.
3. Tough or crunchy foods
Flaky pastries, toast, chips, and crackers pose a risk to those with Huntington’s. With dysphagia, a soft diet is recommended as it is easier to swallow—these tough, flaky, or crunchy foods can be dangerous.
While nuts offer many nutrients, they also are dangerous for those with Huntington’s. Chorea causes involuntary, irregular, and unexpected movements—one jerky movement before chewing a nut can cause it to roll to the throat. Additionally, nuts are hard, and those with Huntington’s should opt for soft foods.
As you likely know by now, hard, crunchy foods are a big no-no for those with Huntington’s. Granola is no exception, and it poses risks of choking and aspiration for those with the disease.
6. Tough, dry meats
Tough, dry meats such as jerky, salami, bacon, and pastrami, are dangerous for those with Huntington’s disease. If you want to consume meat, it needs to be prepared properly—choose softer meats, like chicken, and mince with a blender or a food processor to create smaller, more manageable sizes.