Which Foods Assist in Maintaining Proper Eye Health?
Remember the games we played as children? What If. What if you had to lose one of your senses? Which would be the worst? No doubt a common answer would be vision, and that’s what makes maintaining your eye health so important. The good news is that with the right diet, you can do wonders for your eye health.
Your Diet Affects Your Eyesight
Losing your sight isn’t at all hypothetical. Age and the eyes go hand-in-hand, and the population is aging. By 2030, 6.5 million people in the United States will have poor or no vision. People over 55 are more prone to get cataracts. They should also consider their chances of being affected by age-related macular degeneration (AMD)—which damages the retina. AMD afflicts over 25 million people. And climbing rates of diabetes puts more people at risk of problems like diabetic retinopathy.
The connection between healthy eyes and a healthy life is well established, but people could be taking better precautions. Almost 90% of Americans fail to eat enough vegetables, and three quarters don’t eat enough fruit.
Look for Antioxidants
- Everyone knows about vitamin C, the star of orange juice commercials. Easily found in fruits and veggies, it discourages cataracts and, in combination with other foods, slows the onset of AMD.
- Vitamin E. From nuts, cereals and sweet potatoes; it fights free radicals, which fight healthy tissue.
- It’s a “helper molecule”! The retina needs vitamin A, and zinc helps it get there from the liver.
Eat berries! Who doesn’t like berries? They help against high blood pressure and inflammation, which are culprits for glaucoma and cataracts. Teas are good, green tea is great. Again, zinc is especially important: get it from red meat, liver, oysters, poultry, shellfish, or baked beans.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
They sound like outlying countries from a fantasy novel, but they’re really good for the eyes, and found in leafy green veggies. Spinach and kale will get you there, to discourage AMD and cataracts. The list goes on: corn, collards, broccoli, green peas, bell peppers, and oranges.
Essential Fatty Acids
Two of those three words sound fairly negative. But these fats are not an option: they maintain both the nervous and the immune systems, the cells need them, and they’re very important to healthy vision. Eat fish, canola oil, flaxseed oil, nuts and seeds, and eggs.
Fiber in the diet is famous for at least one good reason, but here’s another: it could prevent AMD when you get older. Studies show that fiber puts the brakes on the overly quick digestion of modern, refined foods, and gives the body more time to absorb the nutrients it needs. Whole grain cereals and breads are the way to go.
Well, one could argue that dietary supplements are part of the diet. Some supplements offer nutrients of which we’re deficient; others help the body extract nutrients that it otherwise couldn’t. Zinc and selenium can help the body absorb vitamins. B12 can help with glaucoma.
What to Avoid
Stay away from too much sodium—don’t be so generous with the salt. By all means, read the labels on what you buy at market. Try to keep your daily intake under 2,000 mg. Stay hydrated; letting your eyes get dry doesn’t help them one bit. And eyes tissues can get irritated by cigarette smoke or too much sun. Use those sunglasses.
Not all protein sources are equal: their fat content and how they’re prepared can make a big difference. Red meat and dairy products, as they have higher proportions of saturated fats, may contribute to an eventual problem with macular degeneration. While that doesn’t mean you should avoid them, it does mean that you should ensure your diet is more balanced.
If you have concerns regarding possible eye health issues or you feel it’s time for a checkup, don’t hesitate to contact us and book an appointment.