It’s not often we think about healthy eating to improve our eyes, nor do I discuss this in my day-to-day practice. However, the eye is an important organ depending on many other systems in the body and the retina is extremely vulnerable. This tissue tends to have a higher metabolic rate therefore consuming more oxygen. Not only that, its high exposure to light is damaging. We know that certain nutrients can affect the eyes, offsetting eye stress. So what should you eat for the best chance of good eye health?
A good place to start is by simply meeting your five a day fruit and vegetable requirement - at least! This has been linked to good eye health. In particular green leafy vegetables, which are packed with antioxidant carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. Therefore have a go at including a little more spinach, kale, broccoli & pumpkin for that antioxidant boost. Eggs are also another good source of lutein. Adding a daily egg to the diet can boost these antioxidant levels. Don’t be put off by the old tale of eggs raising your cholesterol – one egg a day will not raise your cholesterol.
Other important nutrients that have been shown to keep the eyes healthy include vitamin C & omega 3’s. Vitamin C is typically found in citrus fruit but also red bell peppers, strawberries, raspberries, broccoli and in the perfect addition to a winter Sunday roast - Brussels sprouts! Including oily fish twice a week is recommended to meet you omega 3 recommendations.
Upon writing this short article and researching this topic, nothing has really stood out to me from general healthy eating advice, following a Mediterranean based diet and maintaining a healthy weight. Eating a balanced diet, rich in a variety of fruits, vegetables, oily fish and eggs are the main principles behind eating for healthy eyes… but also the main principles to eating for overall health. These concepts may be easy to understand but extremely difficult to implement. Therefore consulting a Registered Dietitian to analyse and help implement tailored dietary changes may be of benefit to your future health.
Katherine Kimber Bsc (Hons)
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