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Eating More Fruits and Vegetables May Improve Function for People With ALS

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a neurodegenerative disorder that causes atrophy, paralysis and eventually respiratory failure. A recent study suggests that eating a diet high in antioxidant nutrients and carotenoids may result in better function at time of ALS diagnosis.

Participants in the study included 302 people who were recruited form 16 clinical centers throughout the US. All of the participants filled out a food frequency questionnaire. Researchers assessed the severity of disease using a validated measure of ALS severity and respiratory function.

The researchers found that eating more antioxidant-rich foods, carotenes, fruits, and vegetables was associated with higher ALS function at the time of diagnosis. They also found that high consumption of milk and lunch meats was associated with lower measures of function or more severe disease.

Researchers from Columbia University conducted the study. It was published on October 24, 2016, in JAMA Neurology.

The antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables have been linked with healthier looking skin, heart health benefits and healthier levels of cholesterol. This is often attributed to the ability of antioxidants to fight free radicals in the body. Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet can be as simple as grabbing an apple as a snack or making sure you have a fruit or vegetable at every meal.

Carotenoids are the phytochemicals that provide the bright red, orange or yellow color to many fruits and vegetables. They serve as antioxidants and can be a good source of vitamin A. They have been shown in previous research to protect against cardiovascular disease, macular eye disease and some cancers.

If you want to increase your carotenoid intake, make sure that your meals contain a variety of fruits and vegetables of all colors. The beneficial actions of carotenoids are optimal when a variety of carotenoids are consumed together.

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