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The Power of Food in Healing Dry Eyes

December 14, 2017 7 min read

Exercise Educational handout

Introduction to the Power of Food

Before we dive into this journey on food, I want to talk to all of you about the struggle of dry eye disease and disease in general. Regardless of where you are in this dry eye adventure, know that from this moment forward, you have a choice - you can choose whether you want to feel amazing or just get by.  Take this opportunity to set the bar for how you want to live the rest of your life...feeling great or feeling lousy.  The choice is YOURS.  

“Nature knows when you are in harmony with yourself and your environment… We frantically go to a doctor to see if they can fix [my problems].  They can’t; only YOU can.” --Dr. Randine Lewis, PhD

The Word Diet

I use the term diet in this book a lot.  I do not believe in dieting and the word diet is used to describe what we will be eating.  You are not going on a diet.  You are starting a new diet of healthy foods that will completely transform your life and if you stick to this diet, you can eat as much as you want inside of it.  Again, you are not going on a diet, but rather changing what you eat.

What is Disease?

The most commonly cited causes of disease are lack of oxygen, inflammation, hormonal imbalance, and microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, etc…).  There are numerous culprits that can lead to any of these four causes and they can include: animal fats, dairy, sugar, and toxic chemicals.  These foods can increase estrogen levels, flood the body with toxic chemicals, and carry life threatening bacteria.   We will explore each section in much more detail later.  

What you put in your mouth is one of the biggest factors affecting how your body works and feels.  The cleaner, more oxygen-pumping, anti-inflammatory, hormone balancing, and nutrient filled food you put in your body, the better your body can do what you ask of it.  

Katherine Thurer, MD says

“Diet is HUGE! It has an enormous role in every aspect of our health across the board.  Switching to an anti-inflammatory diet is the number one thing I recommend.”

So Where Are The Studies?

There is not much scientific evidence on diet and disease, because there is not a lot of money in it.  Pharmaceutical companies have billions of dollars to sponsor international studies about their medications to get them approved for a disease symptom.  Farmers that grow organic crops don’t have this same financial luxury.

The unfortunate realization is that Western medicine (which is only one way of treatment) is this:

  1. Patient has problem that needs to be addressed, so they head to their doctor.
  2. Doctor has sales representatives from various companies come in all day, everyday explaining to them why their drug is better.
  3. Doctor then uses the newest medication to treat the SYMPTOM of the patient’s problem.
  4. If that treatment doesn’t take, the doctor switches to another medication that another company claims will work.  
  5. Then, if that treatment doesn’t work, doctors have to resort to surgery to fix the problem.

We were taught this method of medicine. We believed in this method of medicine. Until we questioned it...

Our Shifting Belief from Western Medicine to Eastern Medicine

It was early 2015, and we had just moved to South Carolina, from Ohio, to start our two new optometry practices!  I promised my wife that after we moved, we could start trying for children.  So we did…

Five months into trying to have children, we realized that it was not as easy as all our friends said it was.  We started exploring what could be causing this problem.  I was tested to make sure I was fertile, but that wasn’t the problem.  Jenna was tested and found that she had polycystic ovaries.

Numerous lab tests were run, but aside from polycystic ovaries shown on ultrasound, hormone levels and nutrient levels were all normal. Because it appeared Jenna was “healthy”, we were diagnosed with unexplained infertility complicated by polycystic ovaries… the most frustrating of all diagnoses in those trying to get pregnant! We began with a few monthly rounds of Clomid and metformin, which all failed to achieve the desired result. We were then prescribed Letrozole, in hopes that it would work in a different way. It didn’t.  Through these pharmaceutical interventions come a lot of undesired side effects including sleeplessness, anxiety, mood swings, rage, thirst, and more.  

Finally in July of 2016, we were told by our fertility doctor that we would have to do IVF (In Vitro Fertilization), which costs anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000 with a 33% chance of success.  Not to mention the massive amount of expensive pharmaceuticals and chemicals that Jenna would have to put in her body in order to possibly conceive.  This is not including the emotional toll of IVF on both the woman trying to conceive and the husband as well.  With that being said, there is a place for IVF, we just didn’t think it was for us.  

The night before our first IVF appointment while lying in bed, I turned to Jenna and told her that I didn’t believe that IVF was right for us. I expressed that there had to be a better way, and she agreed.  This led us on a journey to explore additional routes of medicine including Eastern medicine, which is about finding out what is causing this distress in your body and healing it from the inside out.  

We were already eating a plant-based diet, with minimal meat consumption of about one time per month.  We then switched to eating only organic food.

At the recommendation of a few friends, Jenna started receiving weekly acupuncture treatments. Her acupuncturist started her on a healthy, high fat diet (more on this later) and reduced the amount of carbs and sugar she was consuming.  Four more months passed and still no results, although her progress with acupuncture looked promising.   

In February, our acupuncturist told us that her temperature chart that month looked perfect, and that we may conceive the next weekend.  In the meantime, losing hope after two and a half years of trying, we scheduled an adoption meeting to begin the process.  

The day before the adoption meeting, we took a pregnancy test… It was positive.  

And here I am writing this section of our book one month before Baby Z  is born (I convinced Jenna to not find out the sex).  

This shifted my belief in how I practiced medicine as an eye doctor.  I started thinking that maybe every time I prescribe a medication I am just covering up a symptom to a much larger problem going on with the body.  I started exploring different methods of healing disease from the inside out.  Which leads me to present day and writing this book for you.   

Please know that the methods I discuss in this book are NOT just for dry eye, but for healing the entire body of ailments such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, arthritis, infertility, and any other symptoms you have.  


Embracing Foods That Heal

Food can be the ultimate source of healing or the ultimate destruction of your body. Once you clear away the junk that’s clogging your body from years of poor diet (by the way, it’s not your fault... it’s the government, big pharma, and factory farms), you will unclog your mind as well.  You’ll be able to tap into your healthiest and happiest you.  

All of this starts with plants!

A healthy, plant-based diet is the consumption of nutrient-dense plant foods while minimizing processed foods, oils, and animal foods (including dairy products and eggs). It encourages lots of vegetables (cooked or raw), fruits, beans, peas, lentils, soybeans, seeds, and nuts.

Plants help balance our hormones, maintain a stable blood sugar and pressure, and generally fuel all of our systems in a cleaner, more efficient way.  Plant-based foods are nature’s way of giving us sun-powered health at its most delicious.  There are virtually no nutrients in animal-based foods - including protein and iron - that aren’t better provided by plants.  They can supercharge your body, reduce diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and help you live the life you’ve always dreamed of.  

Research done by Drs. T Colin Campbell, Caldwell B Esselstyn Jr., and John McDougall have shown that changing diet to include more plant based foods and less animal-based foods can help you live longer, feel younger, lose weight, have more energy, preserve your eyesight, keep your mind sharp, and have a more vibrant sex life.  They also discuss that it can eliminate your need for pharmaceutical drugs, especially for treating things like depression, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.  


Fiber is at the top of the list of health benefits of plants.  Fiber helps “scrub” our intestines clean of all the junk that inhabits them on a daily basis.  Since we don’t digest fiber, it helps move things along from entrance to exit, but also absorbs chemicals and toxins along the way out.  A lack of fiber can cause constipation, bloating, hemorrhoids, gas, and diseases like intestinal or colon cancer.

The more fiber you eat the lower your risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and rectal and colon cancer.  


Phytochemicals, such as carotenoids, act like shields that soak up invaders and keep them from harming the plants’ tissues.  Our bodies cannot fight against these free radicals, industrial pollutants, or toxins hiding in animal foods.  These cause our bodies and tissues to start breaking down, which can lead to Alzheimer’s, dementia, cataracts, hardening of the arteries, cancer, emphysema, and arthritis.  If we eat plants, they lend us their powers to fight these toxins.  Each plant has its own fighting ability, which is why a variety of plants is key to your diet.  

A side bonus of phytochemicals is that they help with wrinkles by protecting your skin from damage and helping your skin produce more collagen.  Whole grains are packed with B-complex vitamins which help with glowing skin.

Carotenoids are responsible for giving fruits and vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, and bell peppers their bright orange, yellow, and red hues. A few types of carotenoids, including zeaxanthin, lutein, and beta carotene, play a critical role in maintaining eye health.  They benefit our eyes by guarding against vision loss, while improving one’s ability to see colors and fine detail.  Additionally they also play a role in protecting our eyes against damaging effects of UV light we encounter outdoors as well as blue light from our computers, phones, tablets, and TVs.  

One Love,

Dr. Travis Zigler, Heyedrate, Dry Eye Treatment, Exercise

Dr. Travis Zigler