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Protect Your Vision with Colorful Fruits and Vegetables

Healthy Berries are Good Food for HealthAging is a hot topic these days especially with the Baby Boomer Generation reaching Medicare age! One concern that surfaces often is the care and feeding of the eyes. Our eyes are actually a direct extension of our brain having the responsibility of recognizing our environment and notifying the brain for an interpretation and discernment of safe or not safe.

Care of the eye environment becomes critical as we age. Seniors enjoy many hobbies that require good eyesight like knitting and crocheting, reading, woodwork, gardening, playing musical instruments and the like. Loss of vision can have a profound impact on enjoyment and quality of life.

The retina in the back of the eyeball contains rod and cone structures. Rods enable us to see in dim light and have peripheral vision. Cones enable us to see colors and shapes and to function in bright light. Cones are most concentrated behind the lens in the macula and contain light absorbing substances called retinal and opsin. These are proteins made from Vitamin A. This is why Vitamin A is recommended for vision.

The following suggestions will help us protect our vision: (1) Don’t strain the eyes. Have adequate light for the activities you undertake. (2) Increase your intake of Vitamin A and carotene foods. These include dark greens, colorful veggies I call “rainbow foods,” egg yolks, liver, milk, cheese, butter, cod liver oil, and cantaloupe, tomatoes and tomato paste, celery, green grapes, squash, and colorful peppers. (3) Increase antioxidants to lower free radical damage from toxic overload. Antioxidants include Vitamins C and E as well as come from colorful fruits and vegetables. (4) Lower any risks for cardiovascular disease especially high cholesterol and atherosclerosis. (5) Quit smoking. Smoke damages eye structures leading to cataracts and general degeneration. This will also increase blood and oxygen supplies to the eyes.

Cataracts may arise distorting vision. These are caused by damage to proteins contained in the lens and leads to cloudiness. Some contributing factors to the development of cataracts are due to injury to the eye, diabetes mellitus, toxic exposures and heavy metal contamination, ultraviolet light exposure, cigarette smoke containing high levels of cadmium that prevents some antioxidants from binding to enzymes, free radical damage from poor dietary habits as well as toxic environmental exposures, and sometimes just mere aging.

Suggested prevention strategies to ward off the development of cataracts or to slow down further growth include (1) avoid fatty foods especially fried foods. (2) Increase colorful fruits and vegetables. Check on your levels of Vitamins C and E as well as calcium as all of these support eye function. (3) Increase antioxidant intake found in fruits, vegetables, and Vitamins C and E. (4) Selenium is important for vision and supports our body’s own antioxidant Glutathione. Selenium is in crimini and shiitake mushrooms, fish, oats, and barley. (5) Increase flavonoids found in berries, apples, green tea, and onions to name a few. (6) Wear sunglasses when outdoors to protect eyes from UV light exposure.

Next week I will discuss addressing Macular Degeneration, but you can begin taking good care of your eyes today.

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

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