HEALTHY LIVING : Eat right to protect your eyes

Eyes are very precious; we can see things that others without the eyesight can only imagine, but unfortunately those of us who were blessed with the eyesight forget to take care of  eyes as they should. It’s never too late though, we can start now by eating the right foods to continue protecting them. When I was younger my mother used to force my siblings and I to eat carrots and vegetables, but the worst part was lining up to be given a spoonful of fish oil which was rich in Omega 3 fatty acids.

Eyes are very precious; we can see things that others without the eyesight can only imagine, but unfortunately those of us who were blessed with the eyesight forget to take care of  eyes as they should. It’s never too late though, we can start now by eating the right foods to continue protecting them.

When I was younger my mother used to force my siblings and I to eat carrots and vegetables, but the worst part was lining up to be given a spoonful of fish oil which was rich in Omega 3 fatty acids.

We had very poor appetites and it frustrated my mother to see her children not eat.

But one thing I know for sure is that even though we ate carrots and vegetable like medicine and forced ourselves to throw up every time we were given the fish oil, they sure did help us in protecting our eye sights and health in general.

Now that I am a mother myself and do the same to my children- I laugh when I think about it.

Even though some eye conditions run in families like the cataract and macular degeneration, still they can be avoided by some of the foods that we eat.

If you have eye sight conditions running in your family, it is best if you start early to protect your eye sight before it is too late.

As much as these foods are not the favourite dishes for most children, a wise mother will make sure that her children partake these in their daily food intake, even if it means forcing it down their throats- for their own good.

To protect and have healthy eyes start including in your daily intake the following nutrients.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that the body needs for brain function as well as normal growth and development. Also known by the name polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids must be a part of your diet, because your body cannot create these fatty acids on its own.

Quite a few studies have indicated that people who consume more foods containing omega-3 fatty acids have less incidence of macular degeneration.

Furthermore, omega-3 fatty acids help increase tear production and decrease chronic lid inflammation that causes dry eye.

So what should you eat to increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids? Start with fish, especially fatty and energy-dense fish like tuna, salmon, trout and sardines.

Nut oils, such as walnut oil, and other oils like olive oil, flaxseed oil or canola oil are all excellent sources. Even shellfish, such as shrimp, lobster, crab, oysters and clams, contain meaningful amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.

Flavanoids

Flavonoids are yet another class of antioxidants with wide benefits for human health. They have particular value in eye health, however, and are thought to be useful in protecting the eyes from macular degeneration and cataracts.

Green tea, red wine and dark colored berries (including blueberries, blackberries and dark cherries) are all excellent sources of flavonoids.

Antioxidants

The term “antioxidant” is extremely broad, but in our case we’re referring to foods rich in vitamin A, C and E, as well as foods rich in zinc and selenium. These antioxidants help prevent cataracts, help prevent damage to the retina, and also help prevent macular degeneration.

Furthermore, your body also needs Vitamin A for proper function of some of the basic mechanisms of the eye, such as your eye’s photosensitive pigments. That is why carrots are always used as a good example.

Most fruits, vegetables and juices are sources of a wide range of antioxidants. Fresh fruit, especially apples and citrus fruits, are particularly good sources.

Cooked vegetables are also fine, but typically the cooking process will break down and/or remove some of the nutrients from the foods, which is why it’s a good idea to include plenty of fresh and raw foods in your diet.

lutein

Doctors consider lutein an important antioxidant that is specifically useful for fending off macular degeneration. Lutein is one of the main pigments that make up the macula of the eye (this is the center of the retina responsible for your central and most detailed vision).

Unfortunately, lutein tends to dissipate from the eye with age, which is why it’s a great idea for people age 65 or older to include lutein supplements in their diets.

Lutein is found in dark leafy green veggies such as kale, dodo, and spinach, all of which you can find in your local market fresh from the farms. The most lutein-dense food recommended, however, is your basic raw spinach. But even run-of-the-mill vegetables such as corn and green peas are good sources of lutein.

Again--just like with omega-3 fatty acids--your body can’t make lutein on its own, so you must ingest it as part of your diet.

Now that you know what is to be included in your diet in a bid to save your precious eye sight, take the lead in your family and show a good example to your children. You will never regret your decision and like me, your children will thank you tomorrow.

Ends

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