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Carotenoids and Eyesight: Superfoods to Boost Your Vision

Wednesday, December 6, 2017 1:22
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(Image source: health.mil)

The talk of superfoods has shifted from science to commerce, with health companies cashing in on the health trends of the moment. But that doesn’t mean that superfoods should be passed off as a simple fad.

Whilst superfoods are not a miracle worker (and must be incorporated into an already-healthy diet and regular exercise regime to have positive effects), they are packed with nutrients. Nutrients that are needed to ward off disease and preserve our health into old age.

Harvard Health recommends eating a well-rounded diet rich in fruits and vegetables, carbohydrates, good fats and proteins. And this includes some of the so-called ‘superfoods’ that have become popular over the years with health fanatics and health trend followers.

Superfoods and Eye health

When it comes to superfoods and eye health, two key nutrients to look for are lutein and zeaxanthin. Both carotenoids found in many fruits and vegetables, including carrots which explains the belief of carrots making you see in the dark (something with an element of truth to it).

Lutein and zeaxanthin have been tested in various studies and are said to help reduce the risk of certain diseases of the eye, including age-related macular degeneration as well as cataracts. Lutein and zeaxanthin can block high-energy light rays called blue light reaching the retina. This type of light is commonly found in computer monitors and LCD screens, phones and tablets, and in artificial lighting.

This infographic below shows us just how damaging the exposure to blue light can be for our eyes. In fact, blue light has been linked to macular degeneration which is the biggest cause of blindness in the west.

(Infographic: Don’t Turn a Blind Eye to Superfoods)

The graphic also shows us that lutein and zeaxanthin rich superfoods can be beneficial for maintaining a healthy macula. With Harvard University’s recent study proving that these nutrients, which come from the natural pigments found in vegetables, can reduce the risk of macular degeneration by 40%.

The study followed 102,046 people for a 20 year period and found that people with more lutein and zeaxanthin in their diets also had a much lower risk of macular disease. It’s the biggest study of its kind, taking on data from 63,000 women and almost 39,000 men aged over 50 years.

Preserving Eyesight into Old Age

In addition to including more carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin in your diet, there are other ways to look after your vision into old age. Some health reports reveal that there is a strong correlation between eye health and the amount of exercise or physical activity. Regular exercise can reduce the risk of common eye ailments whilst also reducing the risk of diabetes type 2; a disorder that is related to various eye conditions including blurry vision, diabetic retinopathy and diabetic maculopathy.

Other ways to protect your vision from declining as you age are taking supplements, drinking plenty of water, avoiding smoke or quitting smoking, limiting alcohol intake, getting enough sleep and wearing sunglasses all year round to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

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