Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Feeding Our Eyes!

By June M. Lay, Lifestyle Columnist -
Aug 10, 2010 - 8:43:23 AM

We feed our hunger, our appetite and most of us feed our cravings, at least once in awhile. But how often do we feed our body mainly for the purpose to nourish and protect? Okay, in other words, how many times during this past week did we consider how our food choices are connected to the function, appearance and health of our body? This week, let's discuss "Feeding Our Eyes" because they are vital to our health and happiness.

There's a saying that "Our Eyes are Our Windows to the World" (Okay, this is my version of the saying), and I think most of us would agree that our eyes are very important. Unfortunately, even those of us who were lucky enough to be born with 20/20 vision need to protect ourselves from the two most common age related eye diseases, Cataracts, and Macular Degeneration. Macular Degeneration in particular, is a disease that we can help ourselves prevent by eating those wonderful, colorful phytochemicals known as the Carotenoids!

Why? Well, the retina in our eyes contains the highest concentration of pigments in our body, which absorb the sun's rays (acting as antioxidants) and which overtime (I'm referring to the aging process unfortunately) we start to lose. [Check out Vision Dynamics' Ultraviolet and Infrared Absorbing Sunglasses] Studies have found that those of us with the lowest amount of the phyto's Leutein and Zeaxanthin circulating in our blood, have the highest rate of age-related macular degeneration. But let's not fret, we can replenish these pigments with food. Studies have also shown that people with macular degeneration have been found to have lower levels of zeaxanthin and lutein in the macula itself than people without—which supports the premise that these antioxidants provide some protection. Since our eyes are so important to us, let's think about replenishing the pigments in our eyes with nature's chemicals that are found in foods.

So, what can we eat to help keep our eyesight?
Eggs. Yes, whole eggs contain a high bio-available form of Leutein (meaning very useable by our body). One study used designer eggs with the highest amount found in the yolks, but regular supermarket eggs still contain high amounts.

Spinach. Popeye was misinformed about spinach's high iron content, (it may contain a high amount of iron, but it's not a good source of Bio-available iron) but it does contains high Bio-available amounts of these colorful carotenoids.

Vitamin C, Vitamin E. These important vitamins act as antioxidants and they are also found in our eyes in high concentrations. So, citrus fruits as well as all fresh fruits and veggies all contain Vitamin C, including once again spinach! Vitamin E is found in Spinach (Popeye was on the right track here), Broccoli, Sweet Potatoes, Avocado, Chick Peas, and the highest Bio-available forms of E (with the most calories unfortunately) are found in Soybean oil, Corn oil, Canola oil and Cashews. So, with these last few foods, let's think moderation as in 1 tablespoon?

Here's to "Feeding Our Eyes"!