EATING FOR EYE HEALTH
I still remember the day my eyesight deteriorated!!! Yes, I know it might sound a bit mad, and I’m almost certain that it didn’t happen in just one day… but I can actually vividly remember being able to read the blackboard in college on Friday, and the following Tuesday I couldn’t!
My Italian lectures used to take place in one of those large amphitheaters in UCD, the ones that can take 100’s of people. We were studying Dante’s Inferno and Paolo, my lecturer, was giving us a few hints as to questions that might come up in one of our exams. Obviously as a student, when you hear the word EXAM, you pay extra attention. He started scribbling potential questions on the massive blackboard and I sat there, looking at everyone taking the notes down, everyone but ME!. Yep.. the whole thing was blurry.
As soon as I got back to Drogheda that day, I called into my local Specsavers to book an eye test where it was confirmed I had Myopia (or nearsightedness). Apparently, this is very common in college students due to the amount of reading and computer screens they use daily. I got my first pair of glasses and since then, 19 years ago, I always wear them driving and watching TV.
As I get older health is becoming a more relevant topic for me… let’s be honest, we all need to embrace our ageing bodies and work with them not against them. OK, hear me out: most of us don’t complain about joint pain or pelvic floor issues in our 20’s… but as we age little niggles start appearing. My philosophy in life is to learn about my body, to have as much info as possible so I can lead the most beneficial lifestyle to suit ME. This makes me a bit of a pain as a client, as I'm always full of questions 😊 ... god love the patient optician Fiona, who was full of information at my last visit and didn’t mind answering them all.
Our eyes are so important to our everyday activities (driving, crossing the road, working on a screen, replying to a text/email, doing the shopping etc) so keeping them healthy should be a priority. Typically we think of eye health as wearing glasses/contact lenses, having laser surgery but something the optician mentioned in my last visit was that nutrition many times goes unnoticed when it comes to eye health.
Below I have compiled a list of some of the key foods with correspondent nutrients that can help keep your eyesight healthy (please note this list is not exhaustive and I believe the more raw fruit and veg you take in general the better).
Yes, this is one of my obsessions in life… I always joke that if they ever discover they are bad for you my life would be ruined. Joking aside, avocados are the most nutrient dense fruit in the planet. They are packed with EFA (essential fatty acids). I’m sure you have heard about the importance of Omega 3 fatty acids because of their anti-inflammatory properties. Omega 3 fatty acids can help prevent dry eyes and promote healthy function of the retina. Avocados also contain more Lutein than any other fruit which plays a vital part in the prevention of macular degeneration and cataracts.
I think everyone relates carrots to eye health. They are super high in vitamin A which plays an important role in night vision and slowing down the ageing process.
Another staple in my house (my fitness clients will tell you I do believe Broccoli is the answer to many of life’s problems 😊 ). Broccoli is a great source of vitamin C, which helps boost the immune system and prevents damage to our cells. Vitamin C also helps the blood flow to the capillaries.
Eggs are rich in many nutrients such as B12, omega 3 and zinc. Zinc is a key nutrient and a powerful antioxidant that has multiple functions in the body such as promoting immune health and reduce the risk of macular degeneration.
More green… and as Irish you should embrace it on your plates every day 😊. Another great source of vitamin A and super rich in Lutein and Zeaxanthin, which are members of the carotenoid family (like in carrots and beets). Research shows that both lutein and zeaxanthin may help to slow down age related macular degeneration and may also help to prevent cataracts.
Rich in selenium, a nutrient that may prevent cataracts and promote overall eye health. Sprinkle them in your porridge or just eat them straight out of the packet.
I LOOOOOVE garlic… yes I am Spanish and we literally put it in everything, but garlic is a super powerful natural antibiotic. It also contains selenium and lots of vitamin C.
So as you can see the common denominator with all the foods above is that they are REAL FOOD… they don’t have an endless list of ingredients, they are what nature intended us to eat. And that, my friends, is the key to a nourished body.
Til next time