Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Food for sore eyes
…In a special article in the NYT (Jan 21, 2008), Karen Ravn says one key to warding off cataracts and age-related macular degeneration is not carrots, but leafy greens.
…Spinach, kale, collard greens.
…Carrots are OK, but most people don’t lack for Vitamin A.
…You want to be gobbling lutein and zeaxanthin to discourage cataracts. These two are also good for preventing macular degeneration.
…The data are sort of iffy. Only one study shows a cause and effect relationship between eating high-dose zinc and several antioxidants (not those two) and a lowered risk of macular degeneration and the vision loss that goes with it, Ravn wrote.
…Now there are zinc and antioxidant supplements out there. Do not take these unless your eye doctor says so. A multivitamin with lutein, zeaxanthin and zinc might be OK on your own.
…No downside, pronounces Andrew Weil, the bearded natural food guru. Start early with modest doses—like in your teens.
…Oxidizing by light is what is at the basis of these problems. The cornea is a “bag of proteins,” according to one doctor. When they become “disorganized,” he said in this piece, it’s like frying an egg—they get cloudy.
…In “dry” age-related macular degeneration, the light sensitive cells break down in the center of the retina and the brain does not receive a coherent signal of what is being “seen.” In “wet,” degeneration, blood vessels leak under the retina.
….Other ways to protect your eyes…stop smoking. Smoking affects the blood supply in the retina.
…And it can’t hurt to eat more leafy greens. A multivitamin also won’t hurt you.
…Weil has been hitting the antioxidants for two decades. He doesn’t even need reading glasses, but even he says that is unusual.
…The big spinach salads and daily vitamin with lutein and zeaxanthin are in the “can’t hurt” category for now.