Your diet has a significant impact on your vision and overall eye health. Eating the right nutrients helps reduce your risk for eye diseases such as:
These eye conditions tend to affect older adults. In general, many age-related diseases occur from long-term oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when your body accumulates excess free radicals, creating an imbalance between free radicals and the antioxidants that neutralize them. This accelerates the aging process and increases inflammation in the body.
Your body generates free radicals from normal metabolic processes. However, there are external sources that contribute to free radical production, which include:
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies affect approximately 2 billion people worldwide. The most common deficiencies include vitamin A, zinc, folate, iron, and iodine.
Consuming powerful antioxidants and other nutrients is an excellent way to combat free radicals and protect your eye health. There are many benefits to adding these nutrients in your diet:
An orange pigment found in many fruits and vegetables. Your body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A. This antioxidant protects your corneal health and prevents dry eyes. Studies showed that a combination of beta-carotene along with vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and copper could slow the progression of macular degeneration. A deficiency in vitamin A may cause night blindness.
A powerful antioxidant that assists with essential functions such as tissue repair, collagen formation, and immune system function. Increasing vitamin C in your diet helps prevent macular degeneration, slows down cataract progression, and may be linked to a reduced risk for glaucoma.
An antioxidant that we can only get through our diets. Vitamin E may play a role in delaying the onset of cataracts and reducing your risk of macular degeneration.
Highly pigmented antioxidants that protect your eyes from blue light damage. The macula contains high concentrations of lutein and zeaxanthin. These pigments protect the macula from oxidative damage that can lead to macular degeneration. Research suggests these nutrients also reduce the risk of cataract formation. Lutein and zeaxanthin give certain foods their natural yellow or orange color.
A mineral that helps your body metabolize vitamin A. Your retina contains high concentrations of zinc. This mineral enables you to maintain normal night vision and plays a role in macular degeneration prevention.
Another mineral that has antioxidant properties and may protect your eyes from developing macular degeneration.
Omega-3s are essential fatty acids that our bodies do not produce essential fatty acids, so we must consume them in our diet. Some studies suggest that natural sources of omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of progression in macular degeneration patients. Omega-3s also combat inflammation associated with dry eyes.
Flavonoids are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-allergic. Flavonoids help prevent cataracts, macular degeneration, and inflammatory eye diseases. Some research suggests these compounds can reduce your risk of glaucoma. Flavonoids may also play a role in reducing oxidative stress related to diabetic retinopathy.
To defer the effects of age-related eye diseases as much as possible, avoid free radical sources and make healthy dietary changes. Although vitamin supplements are helpful, getting nutrients from a natural food source is best.
In general, brightly colored fruits and vegetables are very nutritious. If you want to incorporate eye-healthy nutrients into your diet, try eating more of these foods:
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