The Power of Fruits & Vegtables with ALS
Did you know diet can play a role in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)? That’s right!
Research from JAMA Neurology reveals an increased intake of simple whole fruits and vegetables improve function in ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, due to their high antioxidant nutrients and carotenoids. A diet high in fruits and vegetables may help minimize the severity of ALS by reducing oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is defined as a disturbance in the balance between the production of free radicals (also known as reactive oxygen species) and antioxidant defenses’ ability to readily detoxify the reactive intermediates or to repair the resulting damage. This can lead to disruptions in normal mechanisms of cellular signaling.
To help us better understand oxidative stress, think of the cells in your body as mini-manufacturing plants that maintain your health and wellbeing. If these manufacturing plants have the tools they need, in this case, whole, fresh fruits and vegetables, they can protect you from illness and disease, make you feel better both emotionally and physically, and even restore health to some degree.
When we get sick, the workers in the manufacturing plants (cells) call for you to send reinforcements to carry on the extra workload of detoxifying the body. The reinforcements needed are water, oxygen, vitamins, antioxidants, and protein.
When a manufacturing plant (cell) cannot perform its job sufficiently, it borrows from other manufacturing plants. Borrowing will work for a while, but eventually, if the necessary tools are not provided, every manufacturing plant is too depleted of supplies to function and perform their duties and the body finally throws out its first complaint that something is not right. However, by this time, the body is 70-90% compromised. And so, it seems all of a sudden, your health is gone, and illness has taken its place, but the illness process has taken years, even decades to develop.
If we improve our management skills and provide the supplies needed appropriately at the first complaint, there is still great hope for repair and restoration of our health. The supplies needed immediately are water, oxygen, protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. How can these be supplied? A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes (beans, peas, and lentils), nuts, seeds, and whole grains. These are the best foundation for getting antioxidants and nutrients necessary for treating oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is the root cause of most illnesses and diseases.
The author of the study, Jeri W Nieves, PhD, an associate professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, stated, "It appears that nutrition plays a role both in triggering the disease and why it progresses. For this reason, ALS patients should eat foods high in antioxidants and carotenes.” Besides fruits and vegetables, other foods that provide a high level of antioxidants are nuts and whole grains. Dr. Nieves noted, “The foods and nutrients that may help reduce the severity of ALS are very similar to the recommendations to prevent many other chronic diseases."
The research also revealed milk and lunch meats were associated with lower measures of function, or more severe disease. Therefore, Dr. Nieves encourages, "Those responsible for nutritional care of the patient with ALS should consider promoting fruits and vegetables since they are high in antioxidants and carotenes.”
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Source: Jeri W. Nieves, Chris Gennings, Pam Factor-Litvak, Jonathan Hupf, Jessica Singleton, Valerie Sharf, Björn Oskarsson, J. Americo M. Fernandes Filho, Eric J. Sorenson, Emanuele D’Amico, Ray Goetz, Hiroshi Mitsumoto. Association Between Dietary Intake and Function in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. JAMA Neurology, 2016; DOI: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2016.3401
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