The Visionary Diet
Eyes in our lives are the only source of vision and need to be kept healthy and fit. For generations, mothers have encouraged their children to eat carrots because they are good for the eyes. It must be true, after all rabbits love them,and you never see rabbits with glasses!But do we all care for our eyes? The answer is a dismal ‘No’.
There are several factors and conditions responsible for poor vision. Age, excessive consumption of alcohol, smoking, and excessive exposure to light, are some of them. Uncontrolled diabetes mellitus leads to diabetic retinopathy, night blindness(vitamin A deficiency), stroke and even cancer.
Nutrients to nourish your eyes
Get enough antioxidant vitamins A, C,E and minerals (zinc, copper, selenium)through fresh fruits and vegetables.Consume at least three to five servingsof vegetables and two to four servings offruits daily.
- Vitamin A: Lutein and zeaxanthin foundin green or deep yellow/orange colouredfruits and vegetables such as spinachand kale, as well as in broccoli, corn,carrots, sprouts, egg yolk, and fortified milk are the best known eye protective antioxidants. They are required for the proper functioning of the retina and for maintaining the integrity of epithelial cells. They can also slow down the progression of Age related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. Since AMD and cataracts are the leading cause of visual impairment, a good amount of vitamin A is essential for good health and beauty of the eyes.
- Vitamin C: This vitamin helps in strengthening bones and muscles, keeps teeth and gums healthy and also supports the health of ocular blood vessels. It is not only found in citrus fruits but also in grapefruit, strawberries, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and green pepper.
- Vitamin E: Nuts, sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes, vegetable oils, and fortified cereals are good sources of vitamin E, and prevent cataract growth.
- Zinc: Zinc helps in the absorption of vitamin A and is highly concentrated in retina and choroid. It is found in cheese, yoghurt, red meat, fortified cereals and sea food, and is protective against night blindness.
- Selenium: Selenium found in Brazil nuts, sea foods, enriched breads and rice, and cheese, helps in the absorption of vitamin E and prevents AMD.
- Copper: Copper imparts pigmentation to the eyes and acts as an antioxidant in removing damaged free radicals. Shellfish, poultry, chocolates and wholegrain cereals are some of the best dietary sources.
- Omega 3 fatty acids: DHA, one of the omega 3 fatty acids, protects the retina from macular degeneration and also from dry eye syndrome. Thus consuming more of salmon, tuna, sardines, walnuts, olive oil, and flaxseed oil are found to be protective.
Managing your carbs
Diabetes can affect the vision of our eyes. If your blood sugars are poorly controlled, it can affect the shape of your lens, causing blurry vision and shadows. Keeping blood sugars within normal limits and consuming foods having low glycaemic index, can control the progression of diabetic retinopathy.
When the meal is not balanced as per the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), dietary supplements can be taken. Consult your doctor if you need a vitamin and mineral supplement, and which kind is best for you.
Eyes are vital for the body. Exercise helps in strengthening eye muscles and provides relaxation. Quitting smoking, limiting alcohol intake, maintenance of blood pressure and blood sugars, and cutting back on cholesterol, can keep your vision healthy and eyes glowing in the future.