Diet for Macular Degeneration Prevention
We all know how important it is to look after our general health; by eating well, keeping our weight within a healthy range and taking regular exercise – but how do we specifically look after our eye health?
The recommended diet for good eye health is actually much the same as for good general health:
– eat some fresh fruit every day
– include plenty of leafy greens in your diet
– enjoy some fish two or three times per week
– choose carbohydrates with a low glycemic index (GI)
– add a handful of raw, unsalted nuts per week, or a few every day
– limit your intake of fats and oils
There are some special foods, however, that are particularly important for the macula and this vital area of the eye warrants any extra support we can give it, especially as we get older.
According to the Macular Disease Foundation of Australia, Macular Degeneration (MD) is the leading cause of blindness and severe vision loss in Australia. Nearly two out of three people will eventually develop age-related Macular Degeneration and one in four of them will eventually lose vision.
Another risk as we age is the development of diabetes that brings the increased probability of changes to the eyes. Diabetes Australia explains that diabetic eye disease includes eye problems of the macula that can lead to poor vision or even blindness.
Eating for Eye Health
The following foods and nutrients are listed by the Macular Disease Foundation of Australia as having beneficial effects specifically for the macular area of the eye.
As with any dietary recommendations, any major changes should be implemented in consultation with your doctor, however, most of these healthy foods can be easily accommodated into your regular, balanced diet.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
These have both been found to be present in high concentrations in a healthy macula, so inclusion of these in your diet can provide support for great macular health.
There are plenty of ways to add lutein and zeaxanthin to your daily intake, since they are easily found in kale, spinach and silver beet leaves, as well as in peas, pumpkin, broccoli, brussel sprouts, corn and beans.
A note about lutein: if you are taking certain medications, including warfarin, the vitamin K in leafy greens can interfere with the function of these medicines, so it is especially important that you keep in close consultation with your doctor if trying to increase your lutein intake in this way. A lutein supplement may be appropriate for people who can’t obtain it from a natural diet.
Omega-3 fatty acids are well known to be beneficial for eye health and this is where your healthy habit of eating fish several times per week will benefit your eyes, as well. It doesn’t matter if your source of fish or seafood is fresh, frozen or tinned but, if you want to really boost your omega-3, choose oily fish like salmon, mackerel, anchovies, trout, herring and sardines.
Other nutrients that support good macular health, and their sources, include:
Zinc – as found in seafood, nuts, oysters and legumes
Vitamin C – from citrus fruits, berries and tomatoes
Vitamin E – which is plentiful in nuts and whole grains
Selenium – also obtained from nuts, especially brazil nuts
Low GI Foods
The other dietary improvement that has proven to reduce the risk of macular degeneration as well as helping to prevent diabetes and, consequently, diabetic eye disease is switching to carbohydrates with a lower Glycemic Index (GI). These foods include most fruit and vegetables, legumes and whole grain breads and cereals so they, too, are also easy to accommodate into a healthy diet.
Low GI foods are digested slowly, which prevents spikes in your blood sugar levels, giving you a much more consistent energy supply, as well as many other health benefits including reducing the possibility of heart disease, lowering your cholesterol and preventing obesity.
When making meal choices, make sure you keep on selecting healthy options and you will be investing in your future. If you can add these few extra items into your daily intake, you will also be ensuring good vision and eye health for years to come.
Have you had a macula health check recently?
Book your retinal examination at Insight Optometrists, Indooroopilly, today.