Your Eyes: A Window to your health-part 1

Do you ever think about your eye health? Do you just expect your eyes to get worse as you age? From the moment we wake up our eyes are working hard, bringing us the world. We spend most of the day staring at either a phone or a computer, and then come home and look at a TV screen. Our eyes were not meant to do some much forward focused activity, and be exposed to moving light as a result they weaken.

“If you take care of your vision you will not only see better, but you will also feel better and you will positively affect your whole body’s health”

Meir Schneider, Vision for life

Eye problems such as poor night vision, floaters, light sensitivity, dry eyes, ophthalmic migraines can be the first signs of disease within the body. High blood pressure, diabetes, blood vessel disease or autoimmunity is often discovered by examining a person’s eyes, therefore taking the necessary steps to prevent eye disease will benefit not only your eyesight but your whole body and quality of life.

Nutrients important for eye health

Oxidative stress and inflammation play a critical role in age-related ocular diseases as cataract, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration.

One of the best moves you can make towards healthier eyes, and a healthier body, is to begin eating fresh, organic vegetables and fruits, which are high in plant polyphenols and carotenoids known to provide significant preventive and therapeutic benefits.

  • Zinc: Deficiency causes deterioration of the macula, poor dark adaptation and reduced photopic and scotopic responses, it also helps vitamin A be released from the liver so that it can be used in eye tissue. Oysters contain more zinc per serving than any other food, but red meat and poultry, beans, nuts, seafood (such as crab and lobster), whole grains, and pumpkin seeds
  • Selenium: The ocular surface is strongly affected by oxidative stress, selenium is a nutrient necessary for the activity of antioxidative enzymes preventing damage to the corneal epithelial cell. Found in Brazil nuts, fish and meat.
  • Folate: vegetables (especially dark green leafy vegetables), fruits, nuts, beans, peas, seafood, eggs, dairy products, meat, poultry, and grains. Spinach, asparagus, and brussels sprouts are among the foods with the highest folate levels.
  • Vitamin A: Necessary for night vision, tissue growth and repair. Orange, yellow and deep green vegetables contain carotenoids that supply the eyes with Vitamin A.
  • Vitamin C: Plays a vital role in maintaining collagen strength. Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of vitamin C. Good food sources include citrus fruits, red and green peppers, kiwifruit, broccoli, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, and cantaloupe (cooking reduces vitamin C)
  • Vitamin B6: Essential for energy production, The richest sources of vitamin B6 include fish, beef liver and other organ meats, potatoes and other starchy vegetables, and fruit
  • Vitamin B12: Helps with the neurosensory abnormalities found in Dry Eye Disease. Best sources include liver, salmon, tuna, beef, also made by bacteria in your large intestine from resistance starches such as green bananas, psyllium husk, beans, peas, and lentils, whole grains including oats and barley, cooked and cooled rice and potato.
  • Vitamin E: In the eye it relieves excessive accumulation of fluid, which may be a cause of glaucoma. It is also a powerful anti-oxidant working in conjunction with vitamin C to reduce free radicals and oxidative stress. Grapeseed Oil, sunflower seeds, almonds and other nuts. (Please soak raw nuts in water overnight before eating to aid digestion)
  • Omega 3: anti-inflammatory, anticoagulant and antihypertensive properties, DHA is implicated in maintaining the structural and functional properties of the retina. Known to help with Dry Eye Disease, and age related macular degeneration. Food sources include oily fish such as Salmon, anchovies, sardines, hemp seed oil, flaxseed oil, and walnuts.
  • Lycopene & Zeaxathin: Found within the nerve layer of the eye, these protective yellow carotenoids work as a blue-light sun filter for the central retina. If consumed regularly reduces risk of macular degeneration. Tomatoes, carrots, green peppers, apricots, pink grapefruit, Spinach, paprika, corn, richly coloured fruit, especially kiwi fruit and grapes
  • Lutein: Another carotenoid acting as a powerful antioxidant and many studies support its favorable effects on eye health, as well as beneficial effects on other tissues, especially the brain, where it was associated with improved cognitive performance. Found in eggs, corn, potatoes, spinach and other greens, carrots, tomatoes, mangoes

Eye Exercises

In part 2 we will look at various daily exercises you can do to strengthen your eyes and improve your vision.

If you would like to learn more about how naturopathy can help with your eye health please contact Denise or book an appointment online

References

Bungau, S., Abdel-Daim, M. M., Tit, D. M., Ghanem, E., Sato, S., Maruyama-Inoue, M., Yamane, S., & Kadonosono, K. (2019). Health Benefits of Polyphenols and Carotenoids in Age-Related Eye Diseases. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity2019, 9783429. https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/9783429

Buscemi, S., Corleo, D., Di Pace, F., Petroni, M. L., Satriano, A., & Marchesini, G. (2018). The Effect of Lutein on Eye and Extra-Eye Health. Nutrients10(9), 1321. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10091321

Gorusupudi, A., Nelson, K., & Bernstein, P. S. (2017). The Age-Related Eye Disease 2 Study: Micronutrients in the Treatment of Macular Degeneration. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.)8(1), 40–53. https://doi.org/10.3945/an.116.013177

Pellegrini, M., Senni, C., Bernabei, F., Cicero, A., Vagge, A., Maestri, A., Scorcia, V., & Giannaccare, G. (2020). The Role of Nutrition and Nutritional Supplements in Ocular Surface Diseases. Nutrients12(4), 952. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12040952

Rose, M., R., & Rose, .M., R. (1998). Save your sight! Natural ways to prevent and reverse macular degeneration. Warner Books, Inc.

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