Benefits of carotenoid intake for women
While women generally have a longer life expectancy than men, they are more likely to be affected by age-related diseases. This is also related to how women store vitamins and minerals in their bodies. However, increased disease rates could be reduced by a diet rich in so-called carotenoids.
A new study by researchers at the University of Georgia examined data from previous research on several degenerative diseases that are particularly common in women. The results were published in the journal "Nutritional Neuroscience".
Debilitating Disorders in Older Women
Women often live longer than men, but they also have to live with debilitating diseases more often, says study author Professor Billy R. Hammond.
As an example, the doctor cites the fact that two-thirds of all cases of macular degeneration and dementia in the world affect women. These are diseases that women have suffered from for years. However, these are also diseases that can be better prevented by a healthy lifestyle.
Women more often affected by degenerative diseases
The study included various degenerative diseases, from autoimmune diseases to dementia. Experts have found that these diseases occur at a much higher rate in women than in men, even when differences in life expectancy are taken into account.
Nearly 80% of autoimmune diseases affect women
“If you take all the autoimmune diseases together, women represent almost 80%. Because of this vulnerability, which is directly linked to biology, women need special care,” Professor Hammond said in a statement.
Gender effects on health
According to the expert, one of the reasons for this vulnerability has to do with the way women store vitamins and minerals in their bodies. On average, women have more body fat than men. Body fat stores many vitamins and minerals from food.
Body fat is a useful reservoir for women, especially during pregnancy. However, this availability means fewer vitamins and minerals are available to the retina and brain, putting women at increased risk for degenerative problems. .
Protective action of antioxidants
Pigmented carotenoids ingested through food act as antioxidants in humans. Two carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin) are found in certain tissues of the eye and brain and have been shown to directly improve central nervous system degeneration.
Women have a higher need for carotenoids
“Men and women consume about the same amount of these carotenoids, but women's needs are much higher,” says Professor Hammond. Therefore, recommendations for carotenoid intake should be different for women and men.
In general, however, there are no such recommendations for men or women for dietary components not directly linked to deficiency diseases, such as vitamin C and scurvy, the researchers report.
Existing recommendations need to be modified to make women aware of these health risks so that they can be proactive in dealing with them. This could prevent women from being affected by degenerative diseases later in life.
According to the researchers, a diet rich in pigmented carotenoids could allow such a proactive approach.
What foods are rich in pigmented carotenoids?
Pigmented carotenoids are found, for example, in foods such as sweet potatoes, kale, spinach, watermelon, peppers, tomatoes, oranges and carrots. According to the researchers, these colorful fruits and vegetables are particularly important for preventing vision loss and cognitive loss.
Getting carotenoids from supplements?
Carotenoids can also be taken in the form of dietary supplements. Although supplements are one way to increase lutein and zeaxanthin intake, Professor Hammond believes dietary intake is a much better strategy.
Influence of diet on personality and mood
"The components of food affect the brain, from personality to our self-concept. I don't think people realize the profound effect food has on their personality, mood, and even their propensity for anger" , concludes Professor Hammond. (as)
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This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.
Sources:Billy R. Hammond, Lisa Renzi-Hammond: The Influence of Macular Carotenoids on Women's Eye and Brain Health; in: Nutritional Neuroscience (published 07/11/2022), Nutritional NeuroscienceUniversity of Georgia: Women can live better with an Improved Diet (published 07/14/2022), University of Georgia
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.