What Is a Healthy Diet?
A healthy diet is fundamental to the proper functioning of the entire body. For all organs and systems of a person to work properly, it is necessary to adhere to a balanced diet. Keeping the correct ratio of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, as well as vitamins and minerals, is a basis of a beneficial diet for eye health and the whole body. An excess or lack of one of these ingredients can harm your health, well-being, and appearance. Healthy eating is not a diet with nutritional restrictions. It is a way of life, which must be maintained at all times, in addition to moderate physical activity. Here are some tips to help you stick to a healthy diet:
- Include as many seasonal vegetables and fruits as possible. They are rich in fiber, a substance that prolongs satiety and improves digestion.
- Substitute roasted pork with beef, chicken, or rabbit meat whenever possible. These types of meats are less fatty but high in protein.
- Add cold-pressed vegetable oils to your diet. They contain omega-3 fatty acids, as well as vitamins A and E.
- Eat 2-3 types of dairy products every day. They are rich in calcium, phosphorus, protein, and lactic acids.
- Avoid or minimize alcohol and smoking. However, dry red and rosé wines can be very beneficial in small amounts.
Which Foods Are Best for Eye Health and Vision?
Our eyes work every day with full dedication and load. Therefore, it is important to provide the body with appropriate nutritional substances and maintain the best diet for eye health. Certain nutrients, such as vitamins A, C, E, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, copper, beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin can reduce the risk of age-related visual impairment by 25%. These elements are found in many products. Let’s take a look at the top foods included in the diet for eyesight.
Water. Water is the main liquid necessary for the human body. Adequate drinking of pure water eliminates dry eye symptoms.
Eggs. Lutein and zeaxanthin in eggs reduce the risk of age-related vision loss. Also, this product is rich in vitamins C, E, and A. Two egg yolks are enough to replenish the daily requirement of vitamin A.
Fish. Fatty fish is a lavish source of omega-3 fatty acids. Among other benefits, this element eliminates dry eyes and conjunctivitis. Fish rich in omega-3 include:
Carrot. Carrots have an abundance of beta-carotene and vitamin A. Both of these elements are very important in a diet for eye vision.
Beef. The human eye, especially the retina, contains a large amount of zinc. Consuming the right amount of zinc can delay age-related visual impairment and improve overall eye health. Meat is high in zinc, especially beef.
In addition to the above products, it is also worth including in the diet:
- green leafy vegetables
- citrus fruits
- certain grape varieties and products from it
All of these products taken in the right proportion make the best diet for eyesight.
Which Vitamins and Nutrients May Be Beneficial for Eye Health?
For the eyes to function properly and maintain good vision, the body needs to consume certain vitamins and nutrients. Also, these substances can prevent or slow down the progress of some eye diseases.
Vitamin A. Vitamin A is responsible for the cleanliness of the cornea and the quality of vision at night. A lack of vitamin A can cause night blindness, dry eyes, cataracts, and age-related macular degeneration. A vitamin A foods list for the eyes includes sweet potato, pumpkin, green vegetables, and bell pepper. However, the best source of vitamin A for the eyes is carrot.
B vitamins. They support the level of protein in our body. A lack of vitamins B6, B9, and B12 can lead to age-related macular degeneration. These vitamins are found in dairy products, meat, liver, cabbage, bananas, eggs, and fish.
Zinc. Zinc is essential for the proper functioning of the retina. This mineral also supports vision in low-light conditions. Zinc is contained in whole grains, legumes, leafy green vegetables, some meats, and fish.
Omega-3 fatty acids. These substances help in the formation and renewal of eye cells, help with dry eye syndrome, and have anti-inflammatory properties. Omega-3 fatty acids for the eye diet can be sourced from oily fish, seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils.
Nutrition and Cataracts
A cataract is a clouding of the eye lens accompanied by the following symptoms:
- blurred vision
- difficulty with reading in low light
- seeing a “halo” in bright light
- double vision
This disease can develop to the complete loss of vision. A cataract is a consequence of the slowing down of metabolic processes and aging of the whole organism. The lens does not become cloudy immediately — this process can last from 4 to 15 years. To slow the progression of the disease, you need to adhere to a special diet. A cataract diet for eye care should contain a maximum of vitamins, trace elements, and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Eat more dark-colored berries, such as blueberries, blackberries, or mulberries.
- Add carrots and other orange-colored vegetables to your diet.
- Eat more nuts, particularly walnuts.
- Prefer fish over meat. Nutritionists recommend eating salmon 3 times a week.
- Drink green tea without sugar.
- Do not drink alcohol.
If a cataract has already been diagnosed, changes in nutrition won’t help. You need to have surgery to remove the clouded lens. For the early restoration of vision after the surgery, a patient should not eat salty, fatty, and spicy food. Also, the diet for weak eyes eliminates alcohol. It slows down regeneration and is incompatible with most drugs.
Nutrition and AMD
Age-related macular degeneration is an ophthalmic disease in which the cells of the macula, the central part of the retina, gradually stop working. It is an irreversible age-related condition that affects a person’s central vision. With AMD, the person’s focus, which we use for recognizing small objects, faces, driving, and reading, is impaired. The early stage of the disease is asymptomatic, so it is important to have regular eye examinations and keep a diet for healthy eyes.
Scientists have conducted a study on the relationship between human nutrition and the development of AMD. It has been found that people who eat red meat, fried foods, and high-fat dairy products are more prone to eye diseases, such as AMD. A correct diet can prevent or slow down the development of this disorder. The eye-protective diet includes antioxidants, vitamins C and E, as well as trace minerals zinc, zeaxanthin, and lutein.
Even a person with perfect vision may have better or worse eyesight during the day, in different seasons or weather conditions. It depends on the pressure, which, in turn, is controlled by the blood vessels. Vitamin C protects and strengthens blood vessels, which affects the quality of vision. The vitamin is found in plant sources only. Foods with the highest vitamin C content to include in a diet good for the eyes are:
- black currant
- rose hip
- red pepper
Fruits, vegetables, and berries are the most beneficial in the cropping season. Blueberries are one of the main sources of vitamin C. It is recommended to eat at least 10 glasses of blueberries per season. Grind the blueberries with sugar and place them in a freezer to preserve all of their beneficial properties. Thus, you can eat the berries in the winter.
Age-related macular degeneration is an eye disease in which the cells of the central part of the retina — the macula — stop working. This ophthalmic condition is extremely common in America, in part due to poor diet.
Vitamin D is a substance that affects bone growth and development, as well as predisposition to genetic diseases. Scientists have found that women with vitamin D deficiency are almost 7 times more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration. Vitamin D is produced in human skin by exposure to ultraviolet rays. During the sunny season, only 15 minutes in the sun is enough to replenish vitamin D reserves. However, in the cold season, some foods will help you restore it:
- fish species, such as salmon, tuna, halibut, mackerel, cod, and herring (cod liver is especially beneficial);
- all types of dairy products;
- freshly squeezed fruit juice;
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant — a substance that reduces the risk of premature aging of the eye tissue, the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays, and the risk of dystrophic changes in the iris. Regular consumption of this vitamin minimizes the likelihood of ocular tumors.
Here is a list of foods high in vitamin E for a vision improvement diet:
- fruits (kiwi, mango, avocado)
- vegetables (asparagus, spinach, broccoli)
Essential Fatty Acids
Fatty acids play a key role in the formation of cells, organs, muscles, and nerves. Certain types of fatty acids, such as omega-3 and omega-6, cannot be produced by our body. They need to be consumed regularly with food. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in breast milk. This element forms visual acuity in infants and promotes proper drainage of intraocular fluid from the eyes, which protects against dry eye syndrome, AMD, glaucoma, and increased eye pressure.
A diet to improve eyesight should include:
- cold-water fish (salmon, tuna, sardine, mackerel)
- green leafy vegetables
Also, you can replenish the omega-3 supply with the help of special fish oil capsules. They are compact and do not have a specific fishy taste and smell.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin are part of carotenoids, useful compounds synthesized by plants. These are powerful antioxidants that accumulate in the retinal macula and protect it from harmful rays. For example, they protect the eye from ultraviolet radiation and help you see better in dim or very bright light. Products containing lutein and zeaxanthin can prevent or slow the development of age-related eye diseases (cataracts, AMD). A diet for good eyesight, in this case, includes:
- egg yolks
The recommended intake of these antioxidants is 10 mg per day for lutein and 2 mg per day for zeaxanthin.
Zinc is a critical trace mineral that participates in almost all vital processes in the body. Zinc plays a special role in preserving twilight vision and a clear distinction of objects in poor lighting. Twilight vision is an ability to see in black and white colors. For example, if you enter a dark room with your eyes closed and then open them out trying to see something, you should see completely black objects. If the objects are blue or have flashes of color, then your twilight vision is impaired.
Zinc is also responsible for fiber renewal and cell formation, which is why this element is very important for newborns. The recommended intake within a diet for good vision is 8 mg for women and 11 mg for men. Do not exceed this dose, as excess zinc retards cooper absorption and causes indigestion. Foods high in zinc are:
- cashew nuts
Can Certain Diets Increase the Risk of Vision Problems?
While a healthy diet rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and fatty acids can protect your vision, some nutrition schemes can lead to visual ailments. An improper diet may not provide the body with the necessary vitamins and minerals, which can damage the nervous system. High amounts of refined carbohydrates and unhealthy fats can lead to eye diseases.
In 2019, a story was published about a 17-year-old boy who went blind due to an improper diet. He only ate chips, fried potatoes, white bread, ham, and sausage. Over several years, his eyesight and general health deteriorated significantly. The patient’s blood test showed a strong deficiency of vitamin D, B12, copper, and selenium. Due to the wrong diet, the guy went blind in both eyes.
Thus, for the health of the eyes and the whole body, nutrition should be balanced and diverse. Try to minimize the food cooking time to preserve all the nutrients. Drink plenty of clean water to prevent dehydration.
To accurately draw up the best diet to improve eyesight, it is worth consulting with your doctor. Based on the consultation and your test results, the specialist will make an ideal diet for your health.