Supporting Eye Health and Wellness from the Inside Out
The concept of “eating for eye health” may sound strange. But if you think about it, the food we eat nourishes all parts of the body and gives us strength to keep up with our daily lives. The eyes also need to be nourished to keep up with the special demands necessary to protect and maintain the wellness of ocular structures and vision. Food and quality supplements can provide the nutritional foundation to support eye health and wellness from the inside out.
Nutrients in food provide energy, help to build tissue and regulate metabolic processes. Certain nutrients are essential to our health. An “essential” nutrient is one that our bodies require for good health but is unable to manufacture. The nutrient must be consumed in our diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients found in salmon and other cold water fish.
Individual nutrients such as vitamins and minerals have many special metabolic functions. And, no nutrient ever works alone! Not surprisingly food contains a myriad of nutrients, enzymes and cofactors. Eating a rainbow of colorful foods provide the eyes and body with the building blocks for health and wellness.
Colorful plant-based foods contain pigments known as phytonutrients. Many of these phytonutrients have actions that support eye health such as orange bell peppers. Orange bell peppers contain the phytonutrient zeaxanthin; leafy greens like kale and spinach contain lutein. Lutein and zeaxanthin play an important role in protecting and maintaining the health of the macula.
Some phytonutrients have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Herbs and spices are healthful additions to your eye wellness diet. A typical Indian curry recipe uses many herbs and spices with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties including ginger, garlic, turmeric, black pepper, mustard seed, cumin seed and coriander. Italian dried herb blends have a mix of oregano, basil, rosemary, parsley, tarragon, red pepper flakes and garlic powder. Enjoy using a variety of herbs and spices in your favorite recipes. Why not feed your eyes (and family) at the same time?
Part of supporting eye health and wellness from the inside out is to include daily exercise. Maintaining a healthy weight decreases the risk of developing several systemic diseases that can affect eye health such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Smoking is associated with an increased incidence of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
Along with a healthful diet, consider taking a quality, well-sourced eye supplement. Ask your eye doctor to prescribe one for your individual needs.
Sandra Young, OD
Beyond Carrots & Kale, LLC
Author of Visionary Kitchen: A Cookbook for Eye Health
Available nationwide at Natural Grocers and on Amazon.com
Contact author at the Visionary Kitchen for bulk order discounts and personalized holiday gifts.