Food for Eyes!
We need protection for our eyes not only from blazing sun in Florida but also glaucoma, advanced age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and other eyesight woes. Age- related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of blindness and visual impairment in the world. Approximately 11 million people in the United States have some form of age-related macular degeneration. It is an irreversible deterioration of the macula, which leads to loss of the sharp, fine-detail, straight ahead vision required for daily functional activities like reading, driving, recognizing faces and seeing the world in color.
What is macula? It is the functional center of the eye, about 5 mm in diameter, located at the back of the retina. It is responsible for sharp, straight vision and most color vision. At present, little is known about the pathogenesis of the AMD disease and treatment options are limited. Research to prevent and slow the progression of AMD via pharmacologic interventions has been the focus but preventative interventions through dietary modifications, smoking cessation and physical activity can be effective strategies. Dietary modification is most appealing since it is affordable compared to clinical therapies, does not require specialists for monitoring and numerous research studies suggest a benefit of vitamins and macronutrients with respect to AMD.
Understanding free radicals as lead antagonist and role of antioxidant as protagonist.
With age, inflammation, smoking, sun rays, stress and fried food, there is a steady increase in free radicals, which play a lead antagonist role in our body. Antioxidants like beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin E, catechins protect the eye from free radical damage, Studies have shown that antioxidants taken in form of food can help prevent and slow the progression of AMD. Free radicals are simply molecules with one or more unpaired electrons. Electrons prefer to stay in pairs, so unpaired electrons result in highly unstable molecules. To become stable, the free radical must snatch an electron from or give one electron to another molecule. When a molecule loses an electron, that molecule is oxidized and itself becomes a free radical, which in turn becomes unstable and snatches electron from another molecule, starting a chain reaction. This process causes irreversible damage as it permanently alters the structure of the molecules. If our protagonist antioxidant is present, it can donate an electron to the free radical, stabilizes it and ceases the chain reaction. The antioxidant becomes a free radical, but it is able to stabilize the unpaired electron and does not become highly reactive. This process deactivates the antioxidant.
Healthy eye diet includes:
It takes the crown when it comes to protecting our eyes. The retina needs plenty of vitamin A since it is a key component of rhodopsin, which helps turn light rays into the images we see. Vitamin A is a natural component in tear film, and helps keep the eyes moist.
Sweet potatoes are super healthy eye food, it provides 200 times more than daily required dose of vitamin A. Carrots, cantaloupe apricots are good sources too.
Vitamin C helps repair and grow new tissue cells. Good sources include citrus fruits, such as guava, oranges and lemon. Lots of other foods rich include red bell peppers, peaches, tomatoes and strawberries.
Almonds, avocados and sunflower seeds.
Omega 3 fatty acids:
It protects eyes from AMD, improves tear function and prevents dry eye condition. These fatty acids also help proper drainage of intraocular fluid from the eye, decreasing the risk of glaucoma and increase in eye pressure.
Good sources: Mackerel, Sardines, salmon, tuna, trout and halibut.
Beans and zinc:
Black-eyed peas, kidney and lima beans maintain the retina health. Other zinc rich foods include fortified cereals, oysters, chicken, turkey and lean red meat.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin (carotenoid) - leafy green vegetables:
Spinach and kale are excellent sources. Others are romaine lettuce, collard greens, turnip greens, broccoli and peas.
Green tea contains ample amounts of catechins; it is a cup full of promise to protect the delicate eye tissues.
Recipe of the month: Black bean soup
- 1.5 cups cooked black beans
- 1.5 cups cooked kidney beans
- 1 tbsp chopped garlic
- 3 tbsp chopped green onions
- 2 tbsp each, chopped sweet potatoes, bell peppers, carrots,
- 4 tbsp chopped spinach
- 2 tsp chopped jalapenos
- 3 tbsp diced tomatoes
- 4-5 cups veggie broth
- 1 tbsp cilantro
Soak black beans, kidney beans for 12 hours change water three to four times, pressure cook the beans. Heat olive oil and sauté chopped garlic, green onions, sweet potatoes, carrots, red bell pepper, spinach, beans for about 5-7 minutes, add jalapenos and chopped tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes, Lastly, add homemade or store bought veggie broth, cumin, chipotle powder, dried oregano, fresh cilantro cook for at least 7-10 minutes. Tweak the consistency of the soup according to your liking with addition of broth or water. Garnish it with sliced avocado and some lemon.
To Our Health!!
Bhavi Nirav is a Registered Dietitian/M.S., R.D., L.D., certified yoga practitioner, and can be reached at email@example.com.