Have you ever asked yourself if you had to give up one of your five senses – see, hear, smell, taste or touch – which one could you live without? A tough question for sure, they are all so essential to enjoying and experiencing life.
Take a moment right now as you read this article to look around at all the colors, shapes and vitality. Now, close your eyes and imagine if you could never see any of those colors again; gives a little perspective to how important our eyesight is.
In today’s world we are put intense strain on our eyes staring for long periods of time into computers, televisions and cellphones. As we age, our vision starts to deteriorate, protecting your vision through a healthy diet is one way to prevent damage; as well as heal it.
Certain vitamins, minerals and carotenoids are more beneficial than others for your eyes. Vitamin E, C, zinc, lutein and zeaxanthin are all nutrients your body cannot produce on its own, it is important for good health to make sure you are getting enough of these.
According to Dr. Ivana Kim of Harvard Medical, “The retina, especially the macula, is thought to be an environment of high oxidative stress, meaning that there is an abundance of free radicals – molecules that damage proteins and DNA within cells. Antioxidants fight free radicals and are thought to protect the retina from this damage.”
The list of problems associated with cell oxidation is long and detrimental to your health.
1. Vitamin E
Vitamin E’s antioxidant properties shield cells in the body by neutralizing the free radicals that break down healthy tissue; providing eye protection from the sun’s dangerous UV rays. Studies are underway to pinpoint the exact role vitamin E plays in eye health. Foods rich in vitamin E are:
- Brussels Sprouts
2. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant essential to collagen growth, healing wounds, injuries, and promoting overall recovery. High concentrations of vitamin C cling to the lens of the eye to protect it from sun damage, preventing free radicals from forming and damaging tissues. Vitamin rich foods include:
Zinc is an essential trace mineral concentrated in the tissue underneath the retina. The key function of Zinc is to help carry vitamin A from the liver to the eye and produce melanin.
Melanin is what gives skin, eyes and hair its color; it also protects them from UV rays by absorbing light. Zinc has a hand in another sensory function, your taste buds.
A symptom of zinc deficiency is a loss of taste and flavor. If your food is tasting more bland than normal for a significant time, you should contact your doctor to check your zinc levels. Foods rich in zinc are:
Lutein is classified as a carotenoid, acting as a sunscreen for the eyes. This strong antioxidant is highly concentrated in the retina, research studies have shown lutein inhibits cancer cells from spreading and forming.
Diets high in lutein are pivotal to help prevent Macular Degeneration, which kills the tissues surrounding the retina. According to the America Macular Degeneration Association, over 67% of the peripheral retina contains lutein. Foods rich in Lutein are:
Zeaxanthin is also a member of the carotenoid family and works hand in hand with lutein to prevent loss of vision, promote eye health and reduce the risk of disease. Within the central part of the retina called the macula, 75% is made up of zeaxanthin, which filters out the suns harmful light and nurtures healthy cells. Foods rich in zeaxanthin are:
The benefits of carotenoids are new in the science world and they have only begun to be researched. The few studies that have been published show great promise.
According to the American Optometric Association, “Of the 600 carotenoids found in nature, only two are found in high quantities in the retina (macula) of the eye: lutein and zeaxanthin.”
Eating foods rich in antioxidants are beneficial to the whole body and necessary for the prevention of disease. Keep your eyes clear by feeding them the right nutrients.