A new health breakthrough says that eating colorful fruits and vegetables may delay or even prevent the condition known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or more widely known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The natural chemicals making those healthy foods bright in color are responsible.
Those chemicals would be carotenoids, particularly beta-carotene and lutein. They were linked with ALS protection, whereas lycopene (found largely in tomatoes) and vitamin C were not. Any fruits or vegetables that are bright red, yellow, or orange are swimming in carotenoids—known for their powerful disease-preventing abilities.
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ALS is a progressive neurological disease that attacks neurons in the brain and spinal cord, which control voluntary muscles. As the upper and lower motor neurons degenerate, the muscles they control gradually weaken and waste away, leading to paralysis. It develops between ages 40 and 70, with men more at risk. This is the biggest study to look at the role of antioxidants in food and ALS prevention.
Using data from five large population studies, researchers investigated more than one million people. They uncovered about 1,100 ALS cases. They found that a greater total carotenoid intake was linked to reduced risk of ALS. Those who ate more carotenoids were more likely to exercise, have an advanced degree, have higher vitamin C consumption, and take vitamin C and E supplements.
Also, those with diets high in beta-carotene and lutein (the latter is found in dark green vegetables) had a lower risk. They concluded that consuming carotenoid-rich foods may help prevent or delay the onset of Lou Gehrig’s disease. Following such a diet is extremely healthy for a long list of other reasons as well. Seeing the protective powers against this mysterious, difficult ailment shows the heightened powers of these healthy chemicals.
Sources for Today’s Articles:
These Kinds of Foods May Help Prevent ALS
Fitzgerald, K., et al., “Intakes of Vitamin C and Carotenoids and Risk of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis,” Annals of Neurology, published online January 29, 2013.