Eye health: Nutritionist reveals foods that protect your eyes
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Eyesight is without a doubt one of the most valued senses. Worryingly, what you put in your body could be compromising this prized possession. A doctor warns that three popular food groups could be laying the groundwork for vision loss.
“It often surprises people just how much diet can affect eyesight,” said Dr Rabia Bourkiza, consultant ophthalmic surgeon at OCL Vision.
Between a busy work schedule and trying to get some rest on the weekends, you might opt for fast rather than healthy when it comes to putting your food list together.
However, the expert warned that some popular food choices might not be so kind to the eyes.
“There are plenty of links between what you eat and drink and how fast your vision deteriorates,” Dr Rabia said.
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From milk to pasta, simple carbohydrates are hidden in many popular food options.
The doctor said: “Simple carbohydrates have been associated with a higher risk of age-related macular degeneration, which can potentially lead to loss of vision.
“This is especially the case for people with diabetes.”
The reason why these tasty yet risky foods can put your eyes at risk comes down to them being digested far too quickly, stirring up a spike in blood sugar levels.
Simple carbs score high on a ranking system for carbohydrate-containing foods based on how slowly or quickly they raise your blood glucose levels over a period of time called the glycaemic index (GI).
Don’t take just Dr Rabia’s word for it as research, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, also found that men and women who followed diets with a higher glycaemic index were at a greater risk of developing advanced age-related macular degeneration – a disease that affects your central vision.
Fortunately, the research team suggested that simple food swaps could potentially reduce this risk. So, taking your regular white bread and replacing it with whole-grain bread could help.
Also classed as a carbohydrate, sugar can be just as taxing on your eyes if you eat too much.
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“[Sugar], as well as sugary drinks, increase the risk of diabetic retinopathy, which if not controlled can lead to retinal detachment and visual loss,” the expert added.
While meat is a great source of protein, processed and raw versions could do more harm than good.
Dr Rabia said: “Processed meat is also one to keep an eye on, as it’s high in salt, which can cause hypertension-related retinopathy – a disease of the retina (back of the eye).
“Raw meat can cause toxoplasmosis, which if it affects the centre of the retina can cause a permanent scar that can ultimately lead to vision loss.
“Toxoplasma parasites are passed on to livestock, so if the meat is not cooked, the parasites are not killed and can be consumed by the person eating it.
“The preparation of meat is an important risk factor when it comes to your eye health.”
While it’s difficult to nail down the “threshold” at which these three food groups can cause vision loss, healthy and balanced diet could be an antidote.
The expert added: “Some people may be eating these types of food every day, which clearly puts them at significant risk.
“Processed foods are the most common to be in your diet, so it’s important to control this if you hope to keep your vision intact.
“Having a balanced diet is the single most important protection from vision loss.”
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