Chef with Parkinson’s, Zarela Martinez, and Acorda Open Mexican Food Series
Zarela Martinez, a celebrity chef with Parkinson’s disease (PD), has partnered with Acorda Therapeutics to create a video series aimed at helping people live well with the progressive neurodegenerative disorder.
Release of the series, called “A Taste for Life with Zarela,” coincides with Parkinson’s Awareness Month, observed each April. The videos feature Martinez, a native of Mexico living in New York, as she prepares some of her recipes and shares stories about how she copes with the disease. After decades of symptoms, she was diagnosed in 2004.
“It’s easy for people with Parkinson’s to become isolated — you just don’t feel like yourself anymore,” Martinez said in a press release. “However, it’s crucial that you find something you are passionate about — something you cannot live without doing, and for me that’s cooking, and socializing, and exercise and creativity.
“In this video series I want to share my building blocks for living a vibrant life with Parkinson’s, as well as my building blocks for healthy, delicious meals.”
While there are no specific food plans that experts recommend for people with Parkinson’s, a balanced, nutritional diet improves general health. A healthy and balanced diet is also thought to help optimize the effects of Parkinson’s medications while easing some of its symptoms. Patients should speak with their doctor before beginning any diet plan.
A former caterer, Martinez opened her first restaurant — named for her — in 1987, featuring traditional regional Mexican cuisine — a first for New York City. She has since produced three cookbooks and hosted her own show on PBS. In 2013, she was named to the James Beard “Who’s Who in Food and Wine.”
These days, Martinez co-hosts a podcast, “Cooking in Mexican from A to Z,” on the Heritage Radio Network.
As part of her partnership with Acorda, Martinez talks about beginning treatment with Inbrija, developed and marketed by that company, shortly after its U.S. availability in 2019. The medication is an inhaled formulation of levodopa to treat Parkinson’s during “off” episodes, periods when levodopa’s effects wear off and symptoms recur.
“As my PD progressed, my medication stopped working as well in between scheduled doses, and my symptoms would come back,” she said. “I talked to my doctor and he prescribed Inbrija. And for me, Inbrija is an important part of how I manage my Parkinson’s.”
The webpage that introduces the series includes information about Inbrija. Patients or caregivers who sign up for the series will also be sent information about Acorda and its products as well as other health, medical, or educational resources. Registrants may also be contacted about participation in surveys or programs.
“Zarela Martinez is a culinary legend celebrated for introducing a U.S. audience to authentic Mexican food,” the video series webpage states. “‘A Taste for Life With Zarela’ is a special series that explores Zarela’s inspiring approach to living with Parkinson’s through her cooking and personal stories. Her fun, simple-to-follow recipes will give you the building blocks of Mexican cuisine so you can spice up your everyday dishes with confidence.”