The 20/20 Diet - Keep your Eyesight with Good Nutrition!
Keeping your eyes healthy is about more than just getting your eyes checked out once a year. It is about having an overall healthy lifestyle and diet. Eating foods filled with the right vitamins and minerals will help both your eyes and your body working their best.
Aging and the Eyes
As your body gets older the effects of life start to take their toll on your body. Sunlight is one of the most damaging factors that your body will encounter. Sunlight and other factors cause the cells in your body to oxidize which results in aging. Antioxidants can offset this damage. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants can help your eyes to stay as young and as healthy as possible. Your diet is one of the only ways that you can help your eyes noninvasively. Letís look at common aging related eye disorders and how nutrition can play an impact.
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. In fact this one condition currently afflicts more than 10 million Americans. This is an age related disease that slowly damages the macula which is the part of the retina that allows you to see detail, read and drive. Over time age related macular degeneration can destroy central vision.
Eating a healthy diet can help you to reduce your risk for this disease. Several studies have been done on the link between nutrition and macular degeneration. One study at Harvard revealed that an antioxidant rich diet that also contains Omega-3s can greatly reduce the risk of age related macular degeneration. The antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin were specifically mentioned. You can find these antioxidants in egg yolks and leafy green vegetables. They are also available in a supplement form. For best results you should take at least 10 mg of each of these antioxidants each day either through food or supplements. It can take several months for the results to be seen.
Glaucoma is an age related eye disease that damages the optic nerve and makes it more difficult for vision signals to make their way to the brain. This disease is the leading cause of blindness for African Americans. As this disease progresses it generally increases the interocular pressure, or pressure inside the eye.
Diets rich in vitamin C and Omega 3s can reduce the pressure inside of the eye and in turn reduce the risk for glaucoma. Other studies show that some people with this disease have trouble absorbing thiamine. This nutrient is available in many multivitamins. Chromium deficiency has also been found in those with this disease. To make sure that your body has the nutrients that it needs to combat glaucoma make sure that you take a multivitamin that contains both thiamine and chromium. You should also take vitamin C and eat foods rich in Omega 3.
Diabetes, especially when uncontrolled, can damage the eyes. This can lead to a condition known as diabetic retinopathy which results in damaged blood vessels and eventually blindness. This condition effects about 5% of those with diabetes and the odds of getting it increase the longer that you have the disease. Nutrition and proper monitoring of your diabetes is one of the best ways to prevent this condition and to slow the rate of eye damage.
Studies have shown that following the recommended diet for diabetes patients can slow the progression of this disease by as much as 33 percent. This means limiting consumption of saturated fats to less than 10% of your daily calories and keeping your total fat calories to less than 30%. Diets rich in dietary fiber also slow the progression of this disease.
Cataracts are a very widespread condition. It is estimated that by the age of 80 more than 50% of all Americans have them in some form or another. They are a clouding of the lens of the eye that can interfere with the ability to see properly. It is believed that lifestyle factors and exposure to sun, alcohol and cigarette smoke can increase the risk for cataracts.
Of all the vitamins and minerals, vitamin C seems to have one of the greatest impacts in reducing this condition. Studies have shown that high levels of vitamin C can lead to lower levels of cataracts. In one study those that took vitamin C supplements for 10 years of longer had a 60% cataract risk reduction.
If you want to take better care of your eyes start by taking control of your nutrition and by making sure that you are eating a healthy and well balanced diet. In addition to eating healthy and antioxidant rich foods you should also consider using supplements since these can provide your body with extra vitamins and minerals that you may not be able to get enough of through food alone.
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