Women Could Live Longer And Better With Improved Diet, Study Suggests

New research suggests that by eating more bright-colored fruits and vegetables, women can not only live longer than men, they can also live better.

Previous studies revealed that women generally live longer than men, even though many recognized social determinants for health are worse for women than for men.

New research published in Nutritional Neuroscience from the University of Georgia suggests that though women have higher rates of illness, these can be improved through diet, specifically, one high in pigmented carotenoids like yams, kale, spinach, bell peppers, tomatoes, oranges, and carrots.

Per the researchers, bright-colored fruits and vegetables are particularly effective in helping maintain visual and cognitive clarity — both are metrics of life quality.

"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 perseverate but with illnesses that are debilitating," said Billy R. Hammond, a professor in UGA's Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of psychology behavioral and brains sciences program and co-author of the study.

"For example, of all of 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," he added. 

The study reviewed and analyzed data taken from previous bodies of work and found that women experience higher rates of autoimmune diseases and degenerative conditions than men. According to Hammond, women account for nearly 80% of all the autoimmune disease cases, which explains why they need extra preventive care.

The authors suggested the intake of two specific carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, which help prevent nervous system degeneration.

Usually, taking supplements would suffice, but Hammond said getting the nutrients through food is a much better strategy since diet components influence the brain.

“I don't think people quite realize what a profound effect diet has on basically who they are, their mood, even their propensity to anger," Hammond said, adding that improving women’s microbiome and gut health should be given more attention.

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