Your eyesight is the sense that you rely on the most. It’s probably also the sense that you want to give up the least. Vision is fundamental to everything that we do. It is the key to receiving understanding and feedback from the world. After all, over 90% of our input is through the eyes.
Preserving the optimum functioning of our eyes is extremely important. In order to do so, it is first necessary to become familiar with the anatomy of the eye.
When removed, the eyeball looks a bit like a ping-pong ball. The surface of the eye is the cornea. Behind the transparent cornea is the lens. The iris sits on top of the lens. The lens is responsible for focusing the light onto the back of eye, which is called the retina. Between the lens and the retina is the aqueous humor, which is a transparent fluid with a gelatin-like consistency.
The retina is connected to the brain and transports messages from your optic nerve into the brain. The retina contains a lot of polyunsaturated fats, including Omega 3 fatty acids. The most common form of Omega-3 located there is BHA. Numerous studies have shown that people who have a high source of BHA Omega-3 fatty acids in their diet have lower incidences of age-related macular degeneration. We cannot make BHA ourselves. It must come from our diet. So, one key way to improve and maintain eye health is to include some quality sources of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. Three of the best are:
- Flax seed oil
One of the most prominent contributors to eye problems is oxidant stressors. An oxidant is a protein molecule that has an unpaired electron. To avoid eye issues, we need to remove ourselves from situations that will expose our body to high oxidant stressors.
A major oxidant stressor is smoking. So, people who smoke will have eye damage. Other oxidant stressors are blood sugar and blood pressure. These also increase oxidant stressors and lead to eye damage. Exposure to chemicals is another cause of oxidant stress.
In order to get a handle on oxidant stress, it is important to ensure that your body is getting an ample supply of antioxidants. Antioxidants are divided into two groups
- Water Soluble
- Fat soluble
You will need both water- and fat-soluble antioxidants to alleviate eye problems resulting from oxidant stress. Water-soluble antioxidants are used in real time, meaning our body doesn’t build up large stores of them for later use. In respect to the eye, water-soluble antioxidants are particularly useful for the lens. That is because they provide important support to the connective tissue of the lens. They also help to maintain your inter-ocular pressure.
An especially useful water soluble antioxidant for eye health is the bilberry. In the USA, it is called the huckleberry. It looks like a cross between a blueberry and a cranberry. Bilberries became popular for eye health during World War II, when British Royal Air Force pilots noticed that, after eating bilberries, they had improved night vision. This led to studies which confirmed that bilberries were a great food to take for improved eyesight. Learn more about the amazing benefits of taking bilberry here
Fat-soluble antioxidants are also very important to eye health. Important fat soluble antioxidants are Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and Vitamin D. Two carotenoids that are essential to eye health are lutein and zeaxanthin. They are located in the retina and have the extremely important job of preventing the strong oxidative effect of sunlight from damaging the eyes.
Eating foods that are high in lutein, particularly, is a great way to protect your eyes. Lutein helps to promote and support macular density and integrity, two factors which are vital for optimum functioning of your eyes. The very best food that you can consume in this regard is kale. You need between 6 and 20 mg of lutein per day, and kale provides around 25 mg per serving. Recent research indicates that slightly cooking your kale will help to release the fat- soluble antioxidants within it for greater absorption.
While kale is clearly the king when it comes to lutein, any dark-green, leafy vegetables will provide a plentiful supply of carotenoids. Another good source of lutein is egg yolk. Salmon is also a great source of both omega-3 fatty acids and carotenoids. There are helpful nutrients in salmon which can protect the retina from damage and help protect blindness. The omega-3 fatty acids also help to preserve the essential moisture content of the eye. Try to have at least two servings of salmon per week.
Here are nine more great food choices to help protect and maintain the health of your eyes:
- Sweet Potatoes
A carotenoid which has recently been discovered to provide amazing eye health benefits is astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is a chemical produced by certain types of algae. It is what gives salmon and lobster their red color. As a dietary source, astaxanthin is best taken as a dietary supplement
. It has shown itself to be 500 times more potent than Vitamin E. Astaxanthin also reduces inflammation. By reducing oxidation in the brain, it is also believed that it protects against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Go more in depth on astaxanthin here.
Eye health is absolutely essential for vibrant living. Don’t take chances with your most important sense. Supplement smart, and eat right, in order to keep looking good. To ensure that you are getting a high-quality daily source of eye-health-producing antioxidants, take a daily supplement that is high in lutein