As people age their bodies deteriorate. The eyes are not as strong as they used to be. Macular degeneration is something that many people will experience since every one of us will become old someday. A decline in the quality of eyesight happens when the macula which is found at the center of the retina degenerates. While it may be something that we cannot stop from happening, food and nutrients can slow it down. How does eating the right kind of food lower the risk of early onset of macular degeneration? What nutrients are needed to keep the vision sharper longer? Here are some points to ponder to keep the vision clear well into the twilight of life.
Getting more macular pigments
Eating fruits and vegetables that are rich in two carotenoid macular pigments may hold the key to slowing down or even reduce the risk of a progressing macular degeneration. It has been theorized that eating certain fruits and vegetables can help people especially those aged 55 years old and above. Research shows that lutein and zeaxanthin are able to interact with the central part of the retina and could be playing a significant role in maintaining normal visual acuity. The increased concentration of the pigments may lead to the arrest of potentially horrible vision loss as a result of age-related macular degeneration.
Pigments are the key to good eyes
The highest concentration of lutein and zeaxanthin are located in the eyes. This is so because the two pigments are known to help maintain the health of the macula. The pigments are actually carotenoids that give some fruits and vegetable their color. Vegetables and fruits that have red, yellow, green and orange color are full of these carotenoids. Lutein and zeaxanthin are concentrated in the fovea which is the spot known as the macula lutea or yellow spot. The difference of people that have low levels of lutein and zeaxanthin to those who have a lot is about 75 percent.
Pigments act as shields and anti-oxidants
The exact mechanics is still up for debate. However, researchers believe that both lutein and zeaxanthin help the eyes by absorbing the harmful blue light from the sun and at the same time protect the eyes from free radicals as anti-oxidants. Free radicals are molecules that can cause cellular damage via oxidative stress. Free radicals also destroy other parts of the body and the problem gets worse when a person is frequently suffering from anxiety symptoms and stress.
Pigments protect the eyes from cataracts
Aside from macular degeneration other studies like the one conducted by Harvard University underscored the need of lutein and zeaxanthin in the eyes. It has been found out that the lack of these nutrients increases the risk of cataracts that has become so severe that surgery is already recommended.
Getting more B-vitamins for the eyes
Among the vitamins for the eyes, B-vitamins are rarely mentioned. However, Harvard University researchers found out that increasing B-vitamin intake in women did not result to lowered risks for cardiovascular disease but surprisingly improved the chances of averting macular degeneration in old age. Scientists believe that the B-vitamins, B6, B12 and folate lowered the levels of homocysteine which affects and damages the macula in some way. This is the first study that saw the potential of B-complex vitamins in helping people get over macular degeneration and the results are surprisingly positive.
Eating fatty fish can help the eyes
Pigments in the retina also contain a type of Omega 3 fatty acid called docosahexaenoic acid or DHA. DHA has been found to be able to shield the eyes from the harmful blue rays of the sun and also stave off the effects of free radicals. The effects of having a lot of DHA is also applicable not only in lowering the risks but can also help those who are already high risk. A diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids have reversed the effects of advanced macular degeneration among those who have shown signs of vision decline.
There is no substitute in eating the right kind of foods to help not only the eyes but the entire body as well. Fruits and vegetables are there not because they are healthy but they are proven treatments and protection as intended by Mother Nature. Food is our safe haven as long as it is consumed the right way in right amounts.