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post : Preventing AMD: Keep your eye on what you eat!

Preventing AMD: Keep your eye on what you eat!

By Dr. Jerry Mixon June 25, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

The number one question I get about eyes is… “Can you fix my eyes so I don’t need reading glasses anymore?” The best answer is…probably not, but there is hope! Somewhere around 40 most of us start losing the ability to flex our lens enough to see close up. By 50 I had reached the point that I needed weak reading glasses in dim light. Within three months of starting a total hormone replacement program including growth hormone, I was able to put the glasses away. I bought myself almost 10 years free of granny glasses. But eventually time and gravity always win and once more I am straining to see the small print.That reminds me of a more serious issue, the increasingly common “Age-Related Macular Degeneration”, or AMD. The macula is a small area in your eye with the highest concentration of visual receptors. Most people don’t realize that this is the only part of your eye that sees details, the 20/20 part of our eye. Most of the eye can pick up motion, colors, and vague shapes. But when we want to see something clearly we focus the light on the macula. When the macula goes bad we lose the ability to do this. You end up seeing only vague general shapes and colors…no detail is left. Reading, driving, watching TV, and seeing facial expressions…all of that rich visual detail we take for granted is gone.Unfortunately, there is no cure for AMD. However, there are proven steps in the medical literature that you can take to help prevent and slow the process of AMD. This is not designed to be a DIY prescription service. Talk to your personal doctor; let him be your final guide. From my point of view, here goes a fast and dirty synopsis of my file on macular degeneration.

Eat Fish, Omega 3 Fatty Acids: The neurons and receptors of the retina are in a constant state of repair and replacement. Among the critical raw materials used in the process are the omega-3 fatty acids. These lower both the risk of getting Macular Degeneration and slow its progression. The higher your omega-3 intake the less chance you will get the disease. If you have the disease it is your best defense against progression. Eat fish; taking Omega-3 supplements cut your risk by 37%.

Lose Weight: There is a clear association between body fat and risk of getting, as well as the rate of progression of AMD. People with a BMI (body mass index) over 25 have a risk of AMD that is close to 2.4 times as high as those with body mass indexes below 25. Get skinny!

Avoid fat in your diet, even vegetable fat! This one surprised me! High animal fat intake increased the risk of AMD by about 2.3 times the people with the lowest fat consumption. A group at the Harvard school of Public Health published a paper looking at fat intake and AMD. For about 4½ years they followed people who already had mild AMD and looked closely at their diets during that period. They found a clear and convincing pattern. The more fat people ate the higher their risk of AMD…. Rats! Those with the highest intake of vegetable fat also increased their risk by a factor of 3.8 times the lowest group. My mother never told me that vegetable oil would make me go blind! Ok, that’s an overstatement. In this study the one exception to the “oil makes you blind” mantra was fish oil. The more fish the participants ate and the more omega-3 they supplemented, the lower their risk. This explains why I talk about Longevity’s Ultra Omega all the time. Buy Ultra Omega

Eat fruits and vegetables, especially the dark pigmented ones. Those with the highest intake of fresh fruit and vegetables had a 47% reduction in risk of AMD.

Supplement your diet: The carotenoids, specifically lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as vitamin C and zinc have consistently been associated with lower risk of AMD. The levels of these supplements found in our Basic 6 are higher than those used in the studies. So if you are a patient already using your Basic 6, you do not need to add anything else.

Glycemic index matters: Total carbohydrate intake does not seem to matter. But people who eat foods with the highest glycemic index have the highest risk! Processed baked foods such as commercial cookies, cakes, and pastries lose on two fronts. They are high glycemic load foods which raise insulin levels and accelerate AMD. They also have high loads of vegetable fats.

Exercise is good medicine: No, this is not just a restatement of the body fat issue. Even when adjusted for body fat, the more you exercise the lower your risk of AMD.

Avoid cigarette smoke: The odd thing in these studies is that the smokers themselves increased their risk by 1.5 times vs. that of non-smokers. But non-smoking family members who are exposed to second-hand smoke increased their risk by 1.8 times that of the controls. So smoking is not only bad for your eyes but it is even worse for your family’s eyes.

Consume wine in moderation: Moderate wine consumption, but not other liquors, was found to reduce AMD by about 19%.JNM

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