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It’s always a good feeling to learn there are simple ways to increase one’s odds of holding onto your good health.
This is particularly true for women, who tend to live longer than men, yet are at higher risk for conditions that can make their golden years much less enjoyable.
What if I told you about a simple way women can lower those risks of ending up with conditions that lead to age-related decline and enjoy more of those golden years in good health?
Even better — it comes down to just two powerful nutrients…
Women live longer, but with more disease
A recent review of research from the University of Georgia has pulled together years of proof that women experience certain degenerative conditions, from autoimmune diseases to dementia, at much higher rates than men.
Dr. Billy Hammond, a professor in the Behavioral and Brain Sciences Program at the University of Georgia, sums up his findings.
“The idea is that men get a lot of the diseases that tend to kill you, but women get those diseases less often or later, so they persevere, but with illnesses that are debilitating.
“For example, of all the existing cases of macular degeneration and dementia in the world, two-thirds are women. These diseases that women suffer for years are the very ones most amenable to prevention through lifestyle.”
The nutrients more women need to live better
Carotenoids are pigments found in brightly colored fruits and vegetables such as bell peppers and tomatoes. They act as antioxidants for humans.
And women seem to get the short end of the stick when it comes to carotenoids…
“Women are not all that different with respect to their intake,” explains Dr. Hammond, “but there are differences in their biology that create higher need.”
Because of their child-bearing ability, women generally have more adipose (fatty) tissue than men. The female body makes sure that any developing fetus gets “first dibs” at any carotenoids consumed by storing them away in this fatty tissue.
This means less is available for a woman’s retina and brain, putting her at more risk for degenerative problems. This is exactly why women’s dietary requirements for carotenoids are higher.
Based on this review, Dr. Hammond states that “… recommendations need to be changed so that women are aware that they have these vulnerabilities that they have to proactively address, so they don’t have these problems later in life.”
In other words, standard dietary requirements for carotenoids need to be bumped up for women to make up for biological differences.
How to get more carotenoids
Dr. Hammond notes that two carotenoid antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, that are normally associated with eye health are especially important.
Not only does supplementing these two antioxidants help guard against age-related macular degeneration and help support cognitive function, but studies have also demonstrated that maintaining optimal levels of lutein in the brain keeps you cognitively young and decreases risk for osteoporosis.
It’s a pretty simple matter to increase your level of carotenoid intake, particularly during the summer months, when fresh produce is easily available.
Brightly colored fruits and vegetables are rich in carotenoids. Eat more of these, and you’ll increase your intake dramatically…
- Bell peppers
I especially enjoy these fruits and veggies fresh while they are in season — but many can be found year-round. Supplementing is also a good option to be sure you’re on top of your nutrition levels.
You can find an abundance of recipes where they are used. Here are a few to get you started.
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The influence of the macular carotenoids on women’s eye and brain health — Nutritional Neuroscience