Joy Bauer https://joybauer.com Life is hard, food should be easy Mon, 07 Mar 2016 16:36:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8.3 How Food Affects Cataracts https://joybauer.com/vision/how-food-affects-cataracts/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-food-affects-cataracts Sun, 14 Feb 2016 18:33:37 +0000 http://www.joybauer.com/?p=4198 To prevent cataracts, foods rich in B vitamins and antioxidants are the best defense.

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Although research has not positively proved that nutrition can prevent cataracts, there is ample evidence that eating the right foods can help — and we know for certain it can’t hurt!

The ultimate prevention for cataracts is simple: Never grow old.

For those of you who can’t stop time, nutrition and lifestyle changes are your best bets for preventing or slowing the development of cataracts. Although research has not absolutely established that proper nutrition can prevent cataracts, there is ample evidence that eating the right foods can help — and we know for certain it can’t hurt!

For cataract prevention, increasing foods rich in antioxidants and the B vitamins is your best line of defense. You’ll also want to dramatically limit your intake of low-quality carbs — sugary foods and beverages and refined, white starches.

ANTIOXIDANTS: VITAMIN C AND VITAMIN E

As the name suggests, antioxidants fight the oxidative stress caused by free radicals. There is no single antioxidant — rather, it is a broad category that includes vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein, beta-carotene, and any number of other substances that can neutralize free radicals. All vegetables and fruits contain antioxidants, so eating a diet rich in those foods may help prevent cataracts.

The Nurses’ Health Study revealed that women who ate a very healthy diet full of all kinds of antioxidants from vegetables, fruits, and whole grains were half as likely to develop cataracts as women who did not eat such a healthy diet. In addition, numerous studies have observed that people with high dietary intakes or blood levels of antioxidants — particularly vitamins C and E — are at a significantly lower risk for cataracts. But when researchers took the studies to the next level by giving people supplements of individual antioxidants or combination pills with a mix of antioxidants, the results were disappointing. In fact, in most trials, antioxidant supplements did not prevent or slow cataract development.

These results aren’t as contradictory as they seem at first glance — there are many plausible reasons why supplements seem to have struck out. Antioxidants found in foods may act synergistically with other nutrients, and you miss out on these potential benefits when you take isolated antioxidants in pill form. In addition, people with higher intakes of antioxidants likely consume more produce, eat a better overall diet, and have healthier lifestyle habits, and these may, in fact, be the real reasons they’re at lower risk for cataracts. Regardless, the big-picture message is clear: Antioxidant supplements do not ward off cataracts, but eating plenty of vegetables and fruits, including those rich in vitamins C and E, may be protective (and will benefit the rest of your body as well!).

BEST SOURCES OF FOOD ANTIOXIDANTS: TOP 20 FRUITS, VEGETABLES, AND NUTS (as measured by total antioxidant capacity per serving size)

RANKFOOD ITEMSERVING SIZETOTAL ANTIOXIDANT CAPACITY PER SERVING SIZE1Small red bean (dried)1/2 cup13,7272Wild blueberry1 cup13, 4273Red kidney bean (dried)1/2 cup13,2594Pinto bean1/2 cup11,8645Blueberry (cultivated)1 cup9,0196Cranberry1 cup (whole)8,9837Artichoke (cooked)1 cup (hearts)7,9048Blackberry1 cup7,7019Prune1/2 cup7,29110Raspberry1 cup6,05811Strawberry1 cup5,93812Red Delicious apple15,90013Granny Smith apple15,38114PecanI ounce5,09515Sweet cherry1 cup4,87316Black plum14,84417Russet potato (cooked)14,64918Black bean (dried)1/2 cup4,18119Plum14,11820Gala apple13,903

BEST FOODS FOR VITAMIN C: Guava, bell peppers (all colors), oranges and orange juice, grapefruit and grapefruit juice, strawberries, pineapple, kohlrabi, papaya, lemons and lemon juice, broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, kidney beans, kiwi, cantaloupe, cauliflower, cabbage (all varieties), mangoes, white potatoes, mustard greens, tomatoes, sugar snap peas, snow peas, clementines, rutabagas, turnip greens, raspberries, blackberries, watermelon, tangerines, okra, lychees, summer squash, persimmons

BEST FOODS FOR VITAMIN E: Almonds and almond butter, sunflower seeds and sunflower butter, wheat germ, hazelnuts, spinach, dandelion greens, Swiss chard, pine nuts, peanuts and peanut butter, turnip greens, beet greens, broccoli, canola oil, flaxseed oil, red bell pepper, collard greens, avocados, olive oil, mangoes

ANTIOXIDANTS: LUTEIN AND ZEAXANTHIN

Lutein and zeaxanthin are a pair of antioxidants that are of tremendous interest to eye-health researchers. Lutein and zeaxanthin belong to a family of nutrients called carotenoids (along with their more popular sister carotenoid, beta-carotene). Lutein and zeaxanthin stand out because they’re the only carotenoids found in the lens of the eye and may play a key role in keeping the lens clear of protein buildup. Like all antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin can defuse potentially damaging free radicals. In addition, they may also prevent the development of some free radicals by absorbing blue light — part of the cataract-causing, short-wave spectrum of sunlight.

Using data from the Women’s Health Study, researchers at Harvard University determined that women who consumed the highest combined amount of lutein plus zeaxanthin had an 18 percent reduced risk of cataracts when compared to women with the lowest intake. Similar results were reported from the Nurses’ Health Study, the US Male Health Professionals Study, and the Beaver Dam Eye Study. Encouraging results for sure, but I can’t recommend lutein and zeaxanthin supplements at this time. That’s because no one knows everything there is to know about the effects of individual nutrients, and it could be that lutein and zeaxanthin work best only when paired with other antioxidants, or with certain vitamins and minerals. Right now, the only solid information we have supports eating a diet full of lutein- and zeaxanthin-rich leafy-green vegetables, plus an abundance of other antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits.

BEST FOODS FOR LUTEIN AND ZEAXANTHIN: Kale, spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens, turnip greens, dandelion greens, mustard greens, beet greens, radicchio, summer squash (all varieties), watercress, green peas, persimmons, winter squash (acorn, butternut, etc.), pumpkin, broccoli, brussels sprouts, lettuce (especially dark lettuces), asparagus, corn, green beans, okra, artichokes, green bell peppers

B VITAMINS

There is strong evidence that two of the B vitamins — riboflavin (vitamin B2) and niacin (vitamin B3) — may help prevent cataracts, and early research suggests that other B vitamins may also contribute to eye health.

Although these vitamins are not antioxidants, they provide some of the building blocks the body needs to make antioxidant compounds. So without enough riboflavin and niacin, the risk of cataracts increases. Indeed, several scientific studies have shown that people who eat a diet with plenty of foods rich in riboflavin and niacin can slash their risk of cataracts by about half compared with people who eat a diet with very little of those vitamins.

As with antioxidants, there need to be further studies about the benefits of B vitamin supplements. Although the results are quite encouraging, they are not so definitive as to provide specific recommendations. The Blue Mountain Eye Study, a large Australian study with about 2,900 participants, found that those who took riboflavin supplements had a 20 percent lower risk of cataracts compared with people who didn’t take supplements. Niacin supplements lowered risk by 30 percent, and supplements of other B vitamins — thiamin, folate, and vitamin B12 — also seemed to show some benefit. Combining these vitamins may have an even greater effect. A large study conducted by the National Eye Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, showed that people who took a dual supplement containing both riboflavin and niacin reduced their risk of cataracts by 44 percent. Even general multivitamins providing 100 percent DV for these B vitamins seem to decrease risk by more than 30 percent. As promising as these results sound, the jury is still out on exactly how much of which types of B vitamins is necessary or optimal for cataract prevention. I can recommend only food sources, not pills (with the exception of a multivitamin providing 100 percent DV for riboflavin and niacin).

BEST FOODS FOR RIBOFLAVIN: Lean beef and lamb, venison, yogurt (fat-free, low-fat), milk (fat-free, 1% low-fat), mushrooms, almonds, eggs, spinach, coffee

BEST FOODS FOR NIACIN: Tuna (canned light), skinless chicken, lean beef and lamb, pork tenderloin, mackerel (not king), skinless turkey, wild salmon (fresh, canned), anchovies, kidney beans, peanuts and peanut butter, mushrooms, sunflower seeds and sunflower butter

LOW-QUALITY CARBS

Most studies have focused on nutrients that can help protect the eyes from cataracts, but emerging research suggests that certain foods may increase the risk, most notably low-quality carbohydrates. Low-quality carbohydrates include sugar, honey, and other sweeteners, soda and other sugary drinks, candy, baked goods, sugary cereals, anything made with white flour (including white bread and regular pasta), and white rice. Researchers categorize these foods as high-glycemic carbs, which means they are quickly digested and absorbed by the body, causing a rapid, steep, and unhealthy rise in blood-sugar levels. Glucose eventually moves from the blood into the eye, and scientists believe that exposure to high sugar concentrations in the eye’s lens may accelerate protein damage and clumping, thus contributing to cataract formation. A few studies have shown that people who eat lots of high-glycemic foods are at increased risk of developing cataracts. These findings may also explain why the incidence of cataracts is substantially higher in people with diabetes, who have chronically elevated blood-sugar levels.

We’re only beginning to understand the impact of low-quality carbs on eye health, but we already know for sure that they’re not doing our hearts, blood vessels, or waistlines any good. In your daily meal plans, I recommend bypassing junky, nutrient-poor carbs and replacing them with high-quality carbohydrates like vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains.

TEA

Tea contains powerful antioxidants, and some research suggests that drinking relatively large amounts of tea — the equivalent of about five cups daily — may help prevent or delay cataract development. But antioxidants may tell only part of the story. While investigating the effects of tea on blood sugar in diabetic laboratory rats, researchers from the University of Scranton discovered that the animals that drank tea had lower blood sugar than those that did not drink tea. But there was also a side benefit — drinking tea reduced the level of glucose in the eye lens, and there was a lower incidence of cataracts. In fact, the tea-drinking rats had about half the risk of cataracts as non-tea-drinkers. We’re still waiting to see if these results hold up in humans, but tea is an incredibly healthy drink all around, so in the meantime I encourage you to sip to your heart’s content. What’s more, unsweetened tea is a terrific substitute for sugary beverages like soda, sweetened waters, fruit drinks, and sugary coffee concoctions. Both green tea and regular black tea had the same effects, so feel free to choose the type you enjoy most.

 

 

 

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Vision Basics https://joybauer.com/vision/vision-basics/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=vision-basics Sun, 14 Feb 2016 18:30:25 +0000 http://www.joybauer.com/?p=4196 We can't turn back the clock, so smart nutrition choices may be the next best bet for preventing — and at the very least delaying — the onset of eye diseases.

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We can’t turn back the clock, so smart nutrition choices may be the next best bet for preventing — and at the very least delaying — the onset of eye diseases.

Vision loss, and the resulting loss of quality of life, is all too common: Cataracts affect more than half of all Americans over age 80, and as many as 11 million Americans have some form of macular degeneration. In the past decade, research has pointed to nutrition as one of the factors that might reduce the risk and slow the progression of these disorders.

WHAT ARE CATARACTS AND HOW DO THEY FORM?

Light enters the eye through the pupil, the round, black opening at the center of the iris. Behind the pupil is the lens, which catches the incoming light and focuses it onto the retina at the back of the eye.

A cataract is formed when protein fibers in the lens change shape and clump together, clouding the normally transparent lens. This is similar to the process that turns the protein in egg albumin from clear to white when cooked. In fact, most well-developed cataracts look milky white, although in some cases, the lens can turn yellow or brown instead.

Cataracts develop slowly, over a period of years. But even before a cataract can be seen from the outside, vision can become blurry or cloudy — like looking through a fogged windshield. Other possible symptoms include worsened night vision, faded color vision, and starburst or halo effects around bright lights. Because cataracts can be surgically removed, these symptoms are only temporary — after surgery you may need glasses to see detail, but your sight will be clear.

No one knows exactly what causes eye proteins to clump and create a cataract. Many scientists blame unstable molecules known as free radicals, which can wreak havoc throughout the body, causing destruction and disease wherever they go through a complex chemical process called oxidative stress. And what creates free radicals? Well … the single greatest cause is just being alive. Natural metabolic processes from normal body functions like breathing and digesting food generate lots of free radicals, and unless they are neutralized, they build up over time. (A powerful tool to neutralize free radicals are antioxidants; learn more in How Food Affects Cataracts. That’s why our bodies seem to deteriorate slowly with age — it’s the accumulated damage from years of free radical attacks.

Two other major causes of free radicals are smoking and ultraviolet radiation from sunlight. This is the reason all cataract-prevention strategies must include a commitment to stop smoking and reduce exposure to sunlight. Cataracts can also be caused by surgery for other eye problems, traumatic eye injury, or long-term use of corticosteroids. In very rare circumstances, genetic anomalies can create cataracts in newborn babies or infants.

WHAT IS MACULAR DEGENERATION AND HOW DOES IT OCCUR?

The retina is the part of the eye that receives light and images from the world and sends them to the optic nerve to be processed in the brain. The macula is the center of the retina — and the most sensitive part. It fine-tunes focus at the center of our visual field, the area that allows us to recognize faces, read words on a page, and discern detail in anything we look at. Macular degeneration, then, is a deterioration of the macula, gradually leading to central blindness. Peripheral vision remains clear, so it isn’t a total lack of sight but the loss of detailed vision.

There are two types of macular degeneration: dry (also called atrophic), caused by a gradual breakdown of light receptors; and wet (also called exudative), caused by leaks in the blood vessels of the retina, which in turn cause scarring and tissue death. With both types, people usually notice vision distortions first, such as straight lines appearing wavy, along with difficulty reading and recognizing faces. As more and more receptors die, central vision disappears. Fortunately, major advances have been made in treating the wet form of macular degeneration. For example, doctors can now prescribe injectable drugs that stop the leaky blood vessels from growing. There is currently no medical treatment for dry macular degeneration.

Macular degeneration happens most often in people over age 70, primarily women. Although it can run in families, no one knows what causes macular degeneration, or how to stop it once it begins.

 

 

 

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How Food Affects Macular Degeneration https://joybauer.com/vision/how-food-affects-macular-degeneration/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-food-affects-macular-degeneration Sun, 14 Feb 2016 18:28:43 +0000 http://www.joybauer.com/?p=4192 If you are starting to see early signs of the disease, eating the right foods can help.

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If you have a family history of macular degeneration, or are starting to see early signs of the disease, your best bet is to load up on food sources of vision-friendly nutrients.

The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), a research project conducted by the National Eye Institute, has given us some clues about how nutrition might help prevent macular degeneration, or at least delay the progression to blindness. AREDS results showed that certain antioxidant vitamins and zinc helped to slow the progression of advanced macular degeneration by about 25 percent over a six-year period. The antioxidants — vitamins C and E and beta-carotene — are thought to prevent damage caused by free radicals, and the mineral zinc is important for the health of all body tissues but is found in unusually high concentrations in tissues of the retina.

The results of AREDS were so impressive that in the wake of the study’s publication, several supplement manufacturers created special macular-degeneration-fighting formulas. They’re a great treatment option for some, but not everyone is a candidate for these supplements. The supplements don’t appear to be as effective at slowing the progression of macular degeneration from the early to intermediate stage, so most doctors don’t recommend them for people that fall into this group. On top of that, high supplemental doses of antioxidants, especially vitamin E, may pose health risks. Only your eye doctor can determine whether your condition has progressed to a point at which supplements are beneficial. If your condition is still in its early phases, or if you have a family history of macular degeneration but no signs of disease, your best bet is to load up on food sources of vision-friendly nutrients by following my plan.

ANTIOXIDANTS: VITAMIN C, VITAMIN E, BETA-CAROTENE

A study led by researchers from Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, followed a group of more than 4,000 people to see how diet affected the risk of developing macular degeneration. After eight years, the scientists compared the diets of people who developed the condition with the diets of those who did not. The results were encouraging: People who ate a diet rich in vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and zinc had a 35 percent reduced risk of developing macular degeneration compared with people who ate an average diet. And those who ate worse-than-normal diets, with low levels of those nutrients, actually had a 20 percent increased risk of disease. A 2009 study by Tufts University researchers confirmed the links between diets rich in C, E, and zinc (plus lutein and zeaxanthin) and decreased risk of macular degeneration. The Tufts study, however, failed to show any benefit from beta-carotene (that said, I figure it’s best to include extra beta-carotene-rich foods in your diet until we know more). I highly recommend that those with a family history of macular degeneration follow the food plan for high-antioxidant, high-zinc foods to reduce their risk. For an easy way to get a large dose of all the nutrients, try one of my Smooth-SEE recipes.

BEST FOODS FOR VITAMIN C: Guava, bell peppers (all colors), oranges and orange juice, grapefruit and grapefruit juice, strawberries, pineapple, kohlrabi, papaya, lemons and lemon juice, broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, kidney beans, kiwi, cantaloupe, cauliflower, cabbage (all varieties), mangoes, white potatoes, mustard greens, tomatoes, sugar snap peas, snow peas, clementines, rutabagas, turnip greens, raspberries, blackberries, watermelon, tangerines, okra, lychees, summer squash, persimmons

BEST FOODS FOR VITAMIN E: Almonds and almond butter, sunflower seeds and sunflower butter, wheat germ, hazelnuts, spinach, dandelion greens, Swiss chard, pine nuts, peanuts and peanut butter, turnip greens, beet greens, broccoli, canola oil, flaxseed oil, red bell pepper, collard greens, avocados, olive oil, mango

BEST FOODS FOR BETA-CAROTENE: Sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, butternut squash, turnip greens, pumpkin, mustard greens, cantaloupe, red bell pepper, apricots, Chinese cabbage, spinach, lettuce (especially darker lettuces), collard greens, Swiss chard, watercress, grapefruit (pink and red), watermelon, cherries, mangoes, tomatoes, guava, asparagus, red cabbage

ANTIOXIDANT: ZINC

AREDS and the Rotterdam study confirmed zinc’s role in eye health. Zinc is found in the retina, and helps the functioning of enzymes responsible for eye health. In people with macular degeneration, levels of zinc in the retina can be very low, so eating zinc-rich foods is a logical first step for preventing and treating macular degeneration.

BEST FOODS FOR ZINC: Oysters, lobster, lean beef, crab, ostrich, wheat germ, skinless turkey (especially dark meat), skinless chicken (especially dark meat), lean lamb, clams, mussels, pumpkin seeds, yogurt (fat-free, low-fat), pork tenderloin, starchy beans (such as black, navy, pinto, garbanzo, and kidney), lentils, black-eyed peas, soybeans (edamame), lima beans, pine nuts, cashews, peanuts and peanut butter, sunflower seeds and sunflower butter, pecans

ANTIOXIDANTS: LUTEIN AND ZEAXANTHIN

Lutein and zeaxanthin are a matched pair of antioxidants: Almost without exception, foods that contain one also contain the other. They are found in high concentrations in the tissue of the macula. Because they absorb 40 to 90 percent of blue light intensity, these nutrients act like sunscreen for your eyes. Our bodies can’t make these nutrients on their own, so we have to get them from food. Studies have shown that eating foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin can increase the pigment density in the macula — and greater pigment density means better retina protection, and possibly a lower risk of macular degeneration. A second AREDS trial, now underway, is testing whether supplemental lutein and zeaxanthin are more effective than beta-carotene at slowing the progression of macular degeneration and should provide more clarity on the benefits of this nutrient duo.

BEST FOODS FOR LUTEIN AND ZEAXANTHIN: Kale, spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens, turnip greens, dandelion greens, mustard greens, beet greens, radicchio, summer squash (all varieties), watercress, green peas, persimmons, winter squash (acorn, butternut, etc.), pumpkin, broccoli, brussels sprouts, lettuce (especially dark lettuces), asparagus, corn, green beans, okra, artichokes, green bell peppers

OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS

Retinal pigment cells contain a type of omega-3 called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which helps protect light receptor cells in the eye from damage by sunlight and free radicals. Researchers are excited by recent findings that omega-3 fats may help stave off macular degeneration. One study found that eating just one weekly serving of fish, some of which are good sources of omega-3 fats, cut the risk of macular degeneration by over 30 percent. The good news doesn’t stop there— omega-3 fats may be just as effective for those already at high-risk. In a 2009 study of people who already showed early signs of disease in their retina, eating a diet rich in omega-3s reduced the risk of developing advanced macular degeneration by about 30 percent. If you want to take advantage of this promising research, I recommend eating fatty fish at least two times each week, and strive to incorporate the other omega-rich foods into your daily diet, too.

BEST FOODS FOR OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS: Wild salmon (fresh, canned), herring, mackerel (not king), sardines, anchovies, rainbow trout, Pacific oysters, chia seeds, ground flaxseed, walnuts, butternuts (white walnuts), seaweed, walnut oil, canola oil, flaxseed oil, soybeans (edamame)

ANTIOXIDANTS: B VITAMINS

It seems the whole alphabet of vitamins promote healthy vision! B vitamins are the latest to show potential for protection from macular degeneration. In a recent study, Harvard researchers tested whether a combination B-vitamin supplement containing B6, B12, and folic acid reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease in a group of over 5,000 women. The B vitamins didn’t provide any heart protection, but (surprise!) they did dramatically reduce the risk of macular degeneration. Scientists speculate that B vitamins may help by lowering blood levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that may damage the eye in some way. This is the first trial to look at the benefits of B vitamins for macular degeneration, and though the results are encouraging, it’s definitely too soon to recommend supplements. While we wait for the science to catch up, I recommend loading up on healthy foods naturally rich in B6, B12, and folate (and consider taking a standard multi with 100% of the Daily Value for each).

BEST FOODS FOR VITAMIN B6: Wild salmon (fresh, canned), trout (rainbow, wild), skinless chicken, pork tenderloin, skinless turkey, starchy beans (especially chickpeas and pinto beans), bananas, pistachio nuts, tuna (canned light), fish (especially haddock, halibut, cod), potatoes (white and sweet), spinach, winter squash (especially acorn), lentils, avocados, bell peppers

BEST FOODS FOR VITAMIN B12: Shellfish (clams, oysters, crab), wild salmon (fresh, canned), soy milk, trout (rainbow, wild), tuna (canned light), lean beef, veggie burgers, cottage cheese (fat-free, 1% low-fat), yogurt (fat-free, low-fat), milk (fat-free, 1% low-fat), eggs, cheese (fat-free, reduced-fat)

BEST FOODS FOR FOLATE: Lentils, black-eyed peas, soybeans (edamame), oats, turnip greens, spinach, mustard greens, green peas, artichokes, okra, beets, parsnips, broccoli, broccoli rabe, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, oranges and orange juice, brussels sprouts, papaya, seaweed, berries (boysenberries, blackberries, strawberries), starchy beans (such as black, navy, pinto, garbanzo, and kidney), cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, corn, whole-grain bread, whole-grain pasta

LOW-QUALITY CARBS

Sugary foods and refined starches (the white stuff like white bread, rice, and pasta) may be double trouble for your eyes. High amounts of low-quality (high-glycemic) carbs may increase your chance of cataracts, and new findings also implicate them in the progression of macular degeneration. Researchers at Tufts University discovered that people who ate a diet with a high-glycemic-index score faced a greater risk of developing macular degeneration. High-glycemic foods cause a dramatic rise in blood sugar, which also increases the sugar concentration in the eye. Long-term exposure to high sugar loads may damage the retina and tiny capillaries in the eye by promoting oxidative stress and inflammation. Avoiding sugary foods and refined carbs is a smart strategy for overall health, so this is just one more good reason to sweep these foods out of your kitchen.

LOW-QUALITY CARBS TO LIMIT INCLUDE: Sugar, honey, and other sweeteners, soda and other sugary drinks, candy, baked goods, sugary cereals, anything made with white flour (including white bread and regular pasta), and white rice
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Can Supplements Help Prevent Eye Disease? https://joybauer.com/vision/supplements-and-eye-disease/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=supplements-and-eye-disease Sun, 14 Feb 2016 18:25:18 +0000 http://www.joybauer.com/?p=4189 In addition to eating the right foods, supplements can also keep your eyes healthy.

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In addition to eating the right foods, taking supplements can help prevent disease and keep your eyes healthy.

Q: Eyesight problems run in my family, and I would like to start preventing them now. Are there supplements I can take to help keep my eyes healthy?

A: Yes, in addition to making the appropriate diet and lifestyle changes, there are a few supplements that may help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration, as well as promote overall eye health.

Cataracts: If you are concerned about cataracts and want to consider supplements in addition to the food fixes, my only recommendation is for a multivitamin. It is important to get the necessary amounts of the cataract-fighting B vitamins, along with a basic amount of vitamins C and E. Look for a standard multivitamin that contains 100 percent DV of vitamins C and E, as well as riboflavin (B2) and niacin (B3). Supplements with “mega” doses of any vitamin or mineral are not recommended.

Macular degeneration: For people who are at risk for macular degeneration, the following supplements may help prevent or delay the onset of the disease.

  • Multivitamin. I recommend that everyone takes a multivitamin. One that provides 100 percent DV for vitamin C, zinc, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folic acid, as well as some beta-carotene. In addition, look for a multivitamin that provides only 100 percent DV for vitamin E (this amount is safe, but high dosages have been linked to certain heart risks).

And speak with your doctor about these additional supplements:

  • Omega-3 fish oil. If you can’t get enough omega-3 fats through diet alone, you may want to consider fish-oil supplements. I recommend 1,000 mg daily coming from a combination of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), the two most beneficial types of omega-3 fats. Because the amount of EPA+DHA per capsule varies widely among brands, you’ll need to read the label and add up the individual milligrams yourself to determine how many pills it will take to reach 1,000 mg total EPA+DHA. Store pills in the fridge to prevent the fish oils from going rancid. To avoid fishy burps, take with food and choose enteric-coated varieties, which are designed to dissolve in the intestines instead of the stomach. Because fish oil acts as a blood thinner, it should not be taken by people who have hemophilia or who are already taking blood-thinning medications or aspirin.
  • Specially formulated “antioxidant plus zinc” supplements for macular degeneration. If you’re at high-risk for advanced macular degeneration or already have the disease, your doctor may recommend taking a specific high-dose formula of antioxidants plus zinc — the same formulation found to be effective in the AREDS (Age-Related Eye Disease Study) trial. This formulation provides: 500 mg of vitamin C; 400 International Units (IU) of vitamin E; 15 mg of beta-carotene (often labeled as equivalent to 25,000 IU of vitamin A); 80 mg of zinc as zinc oxide; and 2 mg of copper as cupric oxide (copper is added to balance out the high level of zinc, which can block the body’s ability to absorb copper).

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Multivitamins and Macular Degeneration https://joybauer.com/vision/multivitamins-and-macular-degeneration/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=multivitamins-and-macular-degeneration Sun, 14 Feb 2016 18:23:11 +0000 http://www.joybauer.com/?p=4186 Taking a multivitamin may be good for your health, but is it safe for your vision?

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Are multivitamins safe for your vision? Supplements can help protect your eyes, but when it comes to certain antioxidants, too much may be problematic.

Q: I understand that there may be a risk to taking high doses of certain antioxidants for macular degeneration. Should I still take a multivitamin?

A: Yes. High levels of vitamin E supplements can be problematic, but a daily multivitamin with only 100 percent DV for vitamin E is fine (and it will also provide at the very least 100 percent DV for zinc and vitamin C, along with some beta-carotene). Unless your doctor has specifically recommended specially formulated high-dose antioxidant supplements for macular degeneration, it’s safer to get these nutrients from food (along with a multivitamin). Try making one of my Smooth-SEE recipes. They are both chock-full of the best nutrients for eyes and are healthy for everyone, not just those with macular degeneration.

 

Should Your Child Be Taking a Daily Vitamin?
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