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Prevent Macular Degeneration with Good Diet

Cabbage patchIt is important to take good care of our eyes to insure we have great vision as we age. Last week I shared with you the basic structures of the eyes, rods for our peripheral vision and ability to see in dim light; cones to see colors and shapes, fine details, and to see in bright lights.

Cones are concentrated in the macula that is directly behind the lens. When damage occurs in this region, vision can become distorted and may not be able to perceive light effectively. Many of us recognize this when we have trouble seeing at night, especially when driving.

Free radical damage is largely to blame for the onset of damage to our eyes, especially the macula known as macular degeneration. Two types of macular degeneration are defined. The “wet” form involves the abnormal growth of blood vessels in the eyes. Laser surgery to stop the growth is sometimes effective. The “dry” form is more common and involves the accumulation of cellular debris in the retinal tissue disrupting cone cell activity.

Our eyes have a high volume of lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene that prevent oxidative damage to the eyes. The best foods for increasing these valuable nutrients are corn, red and green grapes, the broccoli family, leafy greens, , spinach, collard greens, kale, squash, bell peppers, oranges, apples, peaches, and mangoes to name a few: foods that are abundant this time of year. Lycopene is found in tomatoes and tomato paste.

It is important to note that the liver influences eye health. If vision problems exist such as cataracts, inflammation, night blindness, excessive tearing, or near or far sightedness, these conditions may be mirroring the condition of the liver. According to Paul Pitchford in his book Healing with Whole Foods, his research notes the importance of Vitamin B Folic Acid in helping to correct myopia. Folic acid is best ingested in raw foods such as dark leafy greens, citrus, beets and if not overcooked in legumes, asparagus, salmon, whole grains, organ meats, and dairy.

A question was raised about the issue of blood clotting for some people and that leafy greens can contribute to this condition. Excessive blood clotting may also be caused by poor diet including high sodium foods such as in canned foods, fast foods, processed foods, and ingestion of too much saturated fatty foods and high cholesterol laden foods. Always check with your physician if you have this condition or with a pharmacist to check for nutrient interactions. All the other foods mentioned will offer antioxidant protection and provide essential nutrients for eye health.

Our eyes are exposed to toxins and contaminants every day. Increasing these fruits and vegetables, dark leafy greens, and the cabbage family veggies will improve your liver function as well as eye health.

Krystle Shapiro, LMT, MSHN owns NewTritionally Yours! and will be holding nutrition classes beginning mid-August. She can be reached at (208) 290-6760

Photo: Cabbage patch (Photo credit: *Amanda Richards)

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