Managing Macular Degeneration: Diet and Lifestyle
Diet plays a significant role when it comes to health management and much more so in such a sensitive case as macular degeneration. As is the case with most eye complications, macular degeneration has no direct cure. Treatment of the disease is instead based on the use of certain drugs, many of which aim to limit the growth of new blood vessels in the retina. Fortunately, there are also nutritional measures that aid in keeping vision loss at bay.
The obvious advantage of eating foods that help deal with macular degeneration is that it provides each person with individual control. Choosing a healthy diet is a simple step that can go a long way not only in battling macular degeneration, but also in overall health. The general consensus move for reducing unwanted blood vessel growth is to consume antioxidants.
Fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants are a great place to start. Lutein and zeaxanthin, two prominent antioxidants, are readily available in such greens as kale, spinach, artichokes, lettuce, broccoli, and peas among others. A study by Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands demonstrated that people who incorporated sufficient amounts of vitamins C and E, zinc, and beta-carotene had a reduced risk of developing macular degeneration.
Examples of fruits with high vitamin C content are guava, strawberries, pineapple, mangoes, grapes, broccoli and most citruses. Foods high in vitamin E include almonds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, peanuts, avocados, and canola oil. Some of the best foods for beta-carotene are sweet potatoes, carrots, red bell peppers, cherries, and apricots. Zinc is abundant in high-protein sources, like beef, chicken, and pork, as well as in oysters and lobster.
An interesting tidbit of information is that omega-3 fatty acids play a role in protecting light cells in the retina. They are naturally found in high levels in wild salmon, sardines, tuna, and walnuts. Another excellent source of healthy unsaturated fats to consider is olive oil.
Foods to Avoid
Eye complications can be propagated by certain problem foods. For the most part, all known sugary foods and refined starches, which include processed bread, rice, and pasta, are hazardous to eye health in cases of macular degeneration. In addition, excess quantities of “bad” carbs can help progress macular degeneration as well as increase the chance of developing cataracts.
These carbs are supposedly dangerous for the eyes because they are high in glucose. Research conducted at Tufts University concluded that eating a lot of high-glucose foods resulted in an increased risk of developing macular degeneration since these foods elevate blood sugar and weaken the blood vessels. When the sugary blood eventually passes through the eyes, it damages them by promoting oxidation and inflammation.
Staying clear of sugary foods and processed carbohydrates is rarely a bad idea. Avoiding foods like sugar, honey, soda, candy, and any goods made with white flour may be beneficial as much for overall health as for the eyes. Managing macular degeneration through proper dieting is just a kitchen sweep away! What tips do you have for managing AMD through diet?
Dr. Jenna Zigler
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