YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT (AND SEE)
Most likely you have read or seen a story about the need for better health. Chronic diseases, such as diabetes or hypertension, are increasing in diagnosis and treatment. These increases can be linked to issues such as lack of exercise or to an aging population. Whatever the cause, what is sure to come with those diseases are elevating rates of associated vision loss.
The National Institute of Health reported that blindness or visually impaired individuals may double to over 8 million by 2050 in the United States. Also, consider that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer the number of Americans with diabetes is increasing and over a third of folks 20 years and up are thought to be pre-diabetic. Obviously, the scenario is staggering when considering the impact on health care, productivity at work and pure quality of life.
It is hard to debate that not as many people are taking the necessary precaution to protect their body and eye health. However, one easy way to protect your vision is to eat right. For example, the nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin are vital to eye health in keeping the retina (specifically your macula) healthy and preventing cataract formation. Consuming green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, broccoli, brussel sprouts) or a bell pepper can nicely aid in providing these two antioxidants. If you are not a salad fan ,then help your health with eating eggs, but to get the lutein, you must eat the yolk (sorry egg white eaters!).
Not a salad or egg eater, then head to the dinner table to get another antioxidant, astaxanthin. This nutrient has been referred to as the “the king of the carotenoids”. Carotenoids are the pigments responsible for the bright colors (yellow, orange) in fruits and vegetables. Astaxanthin, is incredible in its help against many eye diseases beyond macular degeneration, like inflammatory eye conditions, glaucoma and cataracts. It is found in seafood such as shrimp, certain salmon and lobster.
Salmon ad other oily fish such as tuna are also high in omega-3’s. Omega-3’s are one fat you do not want to avoid, as they are essential to good health. They boost eye health and are an important building block of cell structure. Omega-3’s also help the retina in fighting against macular degeneration.
So many wonderful treats remain that have not been mentioned such as oranges and lemons, and of course carrots with their rich vitamin A. But, it is important to remember that while you can eat helpful items, you can also consume very unhealthy items and negatively affect eye health and vision. Foods that contain trans fats, such as fried foods, crackers, and cookies should be avoided as they cause harmful effects to the retinal blood vessels.
We truly are what we eat! While much more could be expanded upon in this article, the point is to know vision threatening eye diseases are on the rise, but you can help prevent them. Exercise daily, remembering your UV protection when outside, and eat healthy foods. This will help you to not be part of those rising statistics. And of course, get a thorough eye evaluation.