Are You Eating Your Way To Blindness?
Like so many other aspects of declining health today, people consider it normal that your eyesight gets worse with age. Along with gray hair, wrinkles and other “normal signs of aging,” the need for eyeglasses or eye surgery is simply part of the aging process, they believe.
But should this always be true? Scientists don’t have a clear explanation as to why eyesight for so many people worsens over time. And in the same way dentists treat your mouth without being concerned about how oral health is related to the rest of the body, eye doctors ignore everything except your eyes — as though your vision had nothing to do with your overall health.
That’s a big mistake. And it’s a big reason why so many people are losing their vision.
The Rise Of Diabetes And Vision Loss
A 2012 report from the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that the diabetes epidemic during recent years seems to be a big reason so many people under age 40 suffer severe vision problems. While diabetic retinopathy and other vision problems are common in people with long-term diabetes, the study didn’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship. It did, however, suggest that keeping blood sugar and other diabetes factors under control may be an important way to support eye health.
Nutrients For The Eyes
The findings of that report can be substantiated by other studies showing that what you eat affects your vision. This is hardly a surprise. Foods that fuel chronic inflammation and free radical damage (excess sugars, simple carbs, trans fats, processed foods, pesticide residues and other chemicals) wreak havoc on our most critical organs and tissues. And your eyes are especially vulnerable.
Numerous types of eye conditions (like cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration) can lead to gradual loss of vision. Research shows that certain nutrients may make a difference in many of these conditions. The structure of the eye can be particularly sensitive to nutrient deficiencies and free radical damage. Stress and lifestyle habits also impact your vision.
One study, for example, showed that a higher intake of vitamin A, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin and protein is connected with a reduced risk of cataracts. Increasing the body’s production of glutathione, a master antioxidant that can enhance detoxification, may also help protect vision. Foods such as whey protein, broccoli, walnuts, garlic, asparagus and the herb milk thistle help the body produce more of this important anti-aging nutrient.
For glaucoma patients, important nutrients include lipoic acid, and essential fatty acids — particularly DHA omega 3. For macular degeneration and overall vision health, the food-based antioxidant nutrients lutein, zeaxanthin, vinpocetine and taurine may be helpful. Also important: vitamins C and E together with the minerals copper and zinc.
I also recommend honokiol magnolia bark extract as well as an extensively researched Tibetan Herbal Formula, both of which are excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents that offer a number of overall health benefits.
When it comes to nutritional therapy, it’s important to ensure that your supplements are food-based, and that you also eat plenty of nutrient-dense foods that contain an abundance of phytochemicals to optimize absorption and effectiveness in the body.
Nutrient-dense, unprocessed foods can provide a wealth of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant health benefits that help the cardiovascular system and other parts of the body. In the case of carotenoid supplements such as beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, it’s important to get food-based ingredients rather than synthetic ones. You should also be being careful not to exceed dosage recommendations.
By eating the right foods that are rich in these nutrients, you can help ensure proper use and benefit in the body. For example, foods like egg yolk, corn, grapes, spinach, kiwi and squash are good sources of both lutein and zeaxanthin. Dark green vegetables like spinach, kale and broccoli are good sources of lutein; and orange peppers are excellent sources of zeaxanthin.
Eye health, as we can see, is intricately connected to whole-body health. As with any chronic, age-related health condition, the goals are to reduce chronic inflammation; support the body’s normal detox functions; emphasize nutrient-dense foods, herbs and supplements; and maintain a balanced lifestyle with plenty of rest, physical activity and healthy stress relief. These measures won’t just help you see better; they’ll help you enjoy better health benefits such as enhanced vitality, energy, immunity and well-being over the long term.