Understanding Macular Degeneration
The subject of macular degeneration is a subject that is close to my heart. My husband has been diagnosed with Macular Degeneration. In my effort to find out more about this age-related disease I came up with a lot of information. As I dove deeper into my research I was delighted to find out that diet, specifically the right type of food, can go a long was to help prevent or slow down the effects of this disease.
Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people living in the United States over the age of 55. Unfortunately, it effects over 1.75 million people here in our country. This disease, in many cases, progresses so slowly that most people don't realize their sight isn't what it used to be until it they notice a fuzziness or cloudiness in the center of the eye. I can't stressenough how important is is to visit your eye doctor regularly. They will be able to catch this disease in the beginning and slow or stop the deterioration. There is no known cure for Macular Degeneration. The focus of the treatment is to lessen or delay the disease.
After sharing a few facts about symptoms, and risks of Macular Degeneration I decided to focus on how diet affects this disease. The reason for this is simple; a healthy diet with the correct nutrition, exercise, and proper vitamins can slow or delay the progression of Macular Degeneration by 28%. It seems only smart to try to change your diet, get regular exercise and to take some vitamins everyday to keep your eyesight.
People at Risk for Macular Degeneration
- high cholesterol/triglycerides
- uncontrolled high blood pressure
- adult diabetics
- people who are unable to absorb nutrients through their digestive tracts
- history of this disease in the family
Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
- words appear blurred or difficult to read
- colors look dim
- there appears to be a fog in the center of your vision
- dark or blank areas block the center of your vision
- distinct shapes are blurry
- the need for brighter lighting when reading
At the most severe level:
- difficulty recognizing faces
- hallucination of geometric shapes or people
- straight lines look wavy or bent
- center of vision becomes distorted
Types of Macular Degeneration
There are two types of macular degeneration: Dry or atrophic and wet or exudative or neovascular.
Dry macular Degeneration is the gradual breakdown of cells in the macula(the very center of the retina) which causes gradual blurring of the central part of your vision. The blood vessels under the macula become dry and thin which leads to the gradual breakdown. It is estimated that 90 %, almost all of the people with Macular Degeneration start with the dry from.
Wet Macular Degeneration is the breakdown of the weak brittle blood vessels under the macula. New growth of abnormal, extremely fragile, blood vessels replace them. These new abnormal blood vessels leak, bleed and scar the retina, distorting the central vision. With wet Macular Degeneration vision distortion usually begins in one eye. It may affect the other eye at a later date. With wet Macular Degeneration the loss of vision is more rapid than the dry type of Macular Degeneration.
Risk Factors of Macular Degeneration
- Age - developing this disease increases with age
- Pigmentation- this disease is more common in people with light pigmentation
- Iris color - people with a lighter colored iris is more likely to develop this disease
- Race - this disease occurs in all races but is more common to the Caucasian race
- Gender - women appear to be at a greater risk
- Sleep apnea
- High-fat diet
- Over exposure of sunlight
- family history
What kind of diet would help with Macular Degeneration?
A good diet for Macular Degeneration would include:
- Foods high in antioxidants
- foods high in Omega 3
- Low glycemic carbohydrates
- Proteins that are low in fat
- Cold water fish
Antioxidants are a powerful tool in fighting Macular Degeneration. They help guard our cells and our bodies from inflammation and degenerative diseases include Macular Degeneration.
Main types of Antioxidants and their food sources include:
- Lutein- collard greens, kale, spinach, and Swiss chard
- Beta-carotene - apricots, asparagus, carrots, kiwi, mango, red pepper, squash, and sweet potato
- Vitamin C - broccoli, cabbage, kiwi, oranges, red peppers, and turnips
- Vitamin E - almonds,corn oil, mango, safflower oil, soybean oil, turnip greens, and wheat germ oil
- Copper - almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, and walnuts
High Antioxidant Fruits:
- apricots, blackberries, black chokecherries, black plums, blueberries, cranberries, gala apples, Goji berries, Granny Smith apples, kiwi, mango, oranges, plums, prunes, raisins, raspberries, red delicious apples, red grapes, and sweet cherries
High Antioxidant Vegetables:
- alfalfa sprouts, artichoke hearts, asparagus, beets, broccoli florets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, collard greens, kale, red bell peppers, russet potatoes, spinach, squash, Swiss chard, turnips, and turnip greens
High Antioxidant Beans:
- black beans, pinto beans, red kidney beans, and small red beans
High Antioxidant Nuts and Seeds:
- almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, and walnuts
High Antioxidant Chocolate
- cocoa powder and dark chocolate
High Antioxidant Tea:
- black, green and white
High Antioxidant Spices:
- cinnamon, ground cloves, and oregano
- Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid that the body cannot produce. You must get it from your diet or supplements. It plays a major role in brain function and normal growth and development. Including 220 mg per day of Omega 3 in your diet can lower the risk of developing Macular Degeneration by 40%.
Seafood High in Omega 3:
- anchovies, Atlantic herring, black and red fish caviar, cod, halibut, Lake trout, mackerel, salmon, sardines, scallops, shrimp, snapper, swordfish, Yellow-fin tuna
Meat High in Omega 3 (organ meat):
- giblets, gizzards, kidney, liver, liver sausage, pate, and pork liver cheese
Fruit High in Omega 3:
- avocados (yes, it is considered a fruit), cantaloupe, grapefruit, lemon, lime, papayas,and tangerines
Vegetables High in Omega 3:
- collard greens, dandelion greens, endive, hot chili peppers, kale, kidney beans, navy beans, shallots, soy beans, spinach, squash, tofu, and tomatoes
Nuts and Seeds High in Omega 3:
- Brazil nuts, butter nuts, flax seed, hemp seed, pine nuts, pistachios, pumpkin seed, soybeans, soy nuts, and walnuts
Oils High in Omega 3:
- corn oil, flax seed oil, olive oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, and walnut oil
Spices High in Omega 3:
- basil, cayenne pepper,chili powder, curry powder, ginger, marjoram, paprika, pepper, sage, and thyme
Low Glycemic Carbohydrates
Low Glycemic Carbohydrates help to control blood sugar level and help to defend against age related diseases such as Macular Degeneration.
Low Glycemic Carb Vegetables:
artichokes,asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts,cabbage, celery, cucumbers, green beans, lettuce, peppers (red, green and orange), squash, tomatoes, and zucchini
Low Glycemic Carb Fruits:
apples, apricots, avocados,cherries, grapefruit, oranges, and plums
Low Glycemic Carb Beans:
baked beans, black beans, butter beans, chick peas, kidney beans, lentils and lima beans
Low Glycemic Carb Grains:
barley, brown rice, multi-grain bread, oatmeal (slow cooked, regular), rye, spaghetti, vermicelli, whole wheat flour, and wild rice
A low level of protein can cause cloudiness of cornea, decrease your vision, cause eye pain, and light sensitivity. The proper level of protein should account for 10 to 15 percent of your daily caloric level.
Proteins to Include in Your Diet:
- bayleaf, chicken, cod, eggs, garlic powder, haddock, lean beef, lean pork, lean veal, rosemary salmon, turkey, unroasted almonds, unroasted Brazil nuts, vinegar and wheat germ
Limit red meat to 3 servings per month.
- 500 mg Vitamin C
- 400 IU Vitamin E
- 15 mg Beta-carotene
- 80 mg Zinc Oxide
- 2 mg Cupric Oxide (copper)
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