(NaturalHealth365) Who says eyesight has to decline as we age? For many, the aging process is often associated with expected hearing loss, decreased vision and the gradual development of health problems.
But, some of us look at aging as a natural process that we refer to as longevity. The simple anti-aging recipe for protecting eyesight is a preventive lifestyle full of superfoods and nutraceuticals.
The scientific literature gives us a new way to look at vision issues
When interviewed by researchers for the Journal of Optometry, 83 % of participants understood that a healthy diet and lifestyle could enhance ocular wellness.
Another study conducted by The Journal of Nutrients highlighted that the important carotenoid lutein, because it is so heavily concentrated in the eye is likely the single most important nutrient to protect ocular health from constant exposure to oxygen and light.
So, let’s take a look at the key nutrients to improve eyesight:
Anthocyanins: The largest class of pigments in the plant kingdom, anthocyanins have been well-researched for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects with a particular focus on ocular health. Found in red, blue and purple plants, anthocyanins when consumed in concentrated dosages (as a supplement) can neutralize enzymes that destroy connective tissues and help repair proteins in blood vessel walls to strengthen visual wellness.
Carotenoids – zeaxanthin and lutein: Most people will have a difficult time getting enough in their diet, so I suggest patients supplement. Your macula, which is part of your retina depends on zeaxanthin and lutein to function, to filter light and fight the effects of oxygen damage. And, possibly the most well-researched supplement for age-related macular degeneration is lutein.
Look for standardized supplements and ask your integrative health specialist for dosage-specific recommendations.
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Great superfoods to help brighten your eyes and improve your health
Black currants, bilberries and blueberries rich in anthocyanins: While you can certainly opt to add black currant oil to salads and your supplement regime, eating the whole berry – when it’s in season – offers you some of the highest levels of the antioxidants we discussed above, anthocyanins.
Research suggests that bilberry when used as supplement, over time, will help stave off cataracts and macular degeneration. Both blueberries and bilberries may enhance capillary strength and permeability as well as improve night vision.
In addition, eggs, kale, orange peppers, carrots and sweet potatoes boast an abundant supply of carotenoids. Kale, leafy greens and eggs are rich in lutein while those brightly colored orange peppers, carrots and sweet potatoes are abundant in zeaxanthin. Because lutein is an oil-soluble nutrient, prepare it with a healthy fat such as coconut butter, ghee or olive oil.
Ditch those unhealthy habits to protect your eyes from damage
Remember, never smoke, or quit right now. Studies show smoking oxidizes cells and creates inflammation as well as increases unwanted ocular pressure. For example, for every cigarette you smoke – you lose about 25 mg. of vitamin C, which is a necessary vitamin for optimal health.
The same advice goes for excessive amounts of alcohol. While small amounts of alcohol may benefit human health, excessive consumption has been directly linked to decreased ocular wellness.
If breaking these habits seems tough, I invite you to try ‘the juice challenge’ to improve eye and overall health. Each day increase your juicing up to three juices daily – filling each juice with at least three of the superfoods mentioned above. If you want to learn more about juicing – check out the NaturalHealth365 podcast with Jonathan Landsman and Steve Meyerowitz, talking about the 7 Day Just Juice Fast.
In less than two weeks you may notice less overall cravings for smoking or alcohol, improved ocular health and more energy throughout the day. Get stared today!
About the author: Christine M. Dionese L.Ac, MSTOM is an integrative health expert, medical journalist and food writer. She’s dedicated her career to helping others understand the science of happiness and its powerful effects on everyday human health. Christine practices, writes and speaks on environmental functional medicine, personalized medicine and epigenetics, food science and sustainable living.