Failing vision is often accepted as a natural part of aging, but it's really more of a side effect of our modern lifestyle. Aging does not automatically equate to decreased vision, provided you've properly nourished your eyes through the years.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of blindness among the elderly, followed by cataracts. The pathology of both of these conditions has been attributed to free radical damage, and the condition is in many cases largely preventable through an antioxidant-rich diet.
Certain health conditions, such as obesity and diabetes, can also have a detrimental impact on your eyesight, and these too are primarily lifestyle-driven. Here, I'll review specific foods known to support and promote eye health, along with a few additional tips for protecting your vision as you grow older.
Black Currant—A Notch Above the Rest When it comes to whole foods that nourish your eyes, black currant appears to be a cut above the rest. Research has found that black currants are far more powerful than lutein, zeaxanthin, or bilberry—all of which have are known to support eye health.
Black currants contain some of the highest levels of anthocyanins found in nature—approximately 190-270 milligrams per 100 grams—which is far more than that found in bilberries. They're also rich in essential fatty acids, lending added support to their anti-inflammatory properties.
Anthocyanins are flavonoids, and the health benefits of these antioxidants are extensive. As discussed in one 2004 scientific paper:
"Anthocyanin isolates and anthocyanin-rich mixtures of bioflavonoids may provide protection from DNA cleavage, estrogenic activity (altering development of hormone-dependent disease symptoms), enzyme inhibition, boosting production of cytokines (thus regulating immuneresponses), anti-inflammatory activity, lipid peroxidation, decreasing capillary permeability and fragility, and membrane strengthening."
For medicinal purposes, many opt for using black currant seed oil, which is available in capsule form. But eating the whole food is always an option, especially when they're in season.
Growing your own black currants is one way to get them while they're fresh, especially since they tend to be on the expensive side. According to the British Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), one bush will typically yield about 10 pounds (4.5 kilos) of black currant berries. The RHS site contains helpful tips and instructional videos for proper planting and harvesting.
Bilberries, Another Powerhouse Food for Eye Health Bilberry, a close relative of the blueberry, is another nutritional powerhouse for your eyes. Its nearly black berries also contain high amounts of anthocyanins, just like the black currant.
Contrary to black currant, bilberries tend to be difficult to grow and cultivate, and are typically collected from areas where they grow in the wild. Many of the forest areas around northern and central Europe are known for their bilberry patches, where people pick them each year.
Research suggests that bilberry may be of particular benefit for inhibiting or reversing macular degeneration. A 2005 study in the journal Advances in Gerontology found that rats with early senile cataract and macular degenerationwho received 20 mg of bilberry extract per kilo of body weight suffered no impairment of their lens and retina, while 70 percent of the control group suffered degeneration over the three month-long study. According to the authors:
"The results suggest that... long-term supplementation with bilberry extract is effective in prevention of macular degeneration and cataract."
Kale and Other Leafy Greens to the Rescue Lutein and zeaxanthin are both important nutrients for eye health, as both of them are found in high concentrations in your macula—the small central part of your retina responsible for detailed central vision. More specifically, lutein is also found in your macular pigment – known for helping to protect your central vision and aid in blue light absorption—and zeaxanthin is found in your retina.
Though there's no recommended daily intake for lutein and zeaxanthin, studies have found health benefits for lutein at a dose of 10 mg per day, and at 2 mg/day for zeaxanthin. Studies also suggest that dietary intake of approximately 6-20 mg lutein daily may be necessary for adequate eye health support.
Both lutein and zeaxanthin are primarily found in green leafy vegetables, although zeaxanthin is far scarcer than lutein. Kale and spinach are two of the most lutein-rich foods, but you'll also find it in carrots, squash, and other orange and yellow fruits and vegetables.
Both lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids called xanthophylls, which give plants and vegetables their yellow-orange color, and the name "lutein" comes from the Latin word "luteus," which means "yellow." If you remember this, it may help you pick out vegetables that are likely to contain higher amounts of these two nutrients.
According to one 1998 study in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, orange pepper had the highest amount of zeaxanthin of the 33 fruits and vegetables tested. Egg yolk is another source of both lutein and zeaxanthin that is well absorbed by your body. According to the authors:
"Most of the dark green leafy vegetables, previously recommended for a higher intake of lutein and zeaxanthin, have 15-47 percent of lutein, but a very low content (0-3 percent) of zeaxanthin. Our study shows that fruits and vegetables of various colors can be consumed to increase dietary intake of lutein and zeaxanthin."
Organic Pastured Egg Yolks—Another Important Food for Eye Health Following is a list of lutein-rich foods. Kale is a clear forerunner, with spinach in close second. Most of these also contain zeaxanthin, albeit in lesser quantities than lutein. Keep in mind that in order to receive all the benefits of the nutrients found in these foods, you need to consume them as close to raw as possible. Once you heat spinach or egg yolks, for example, the lutein and zeaxanthin become damaged, and will not perform as well in preventing degeneration of your macula. Accessory micronutrients in the foods that enhance their action will also be damaged.
One of the best ways to take advantage of these nutrients is by eating raw egg yolks. There is about 0.25 mg each of lutein and zeaxanthin in one egg yolk, and while this is lower than many of the vegetables, it's in a highly absorbable, nearly ideal form. Just keep in mind that when you eat eggs raw, finding a high-quality source becomes critically important, as factory farmed eggs are far more prone to cause foodborne illness. Making sure your eggs are from organically-raised and pastured hens will dramatically reduce such risks. Free-range eggs also contain higher levels of nutrients overall.
It is also important to note that lutein is an oil-soluble nutrient, so if you eat the vegetables without some oil or butter your body can't absorb the lutein. Adding a little bit of healthy fat, such as olive oil, coconut oil, or raw organic butter, will maximize your lutein absorption.
Wild-Caught Alaskan Salmon Contains Two Potent Eye NutrientsWithout fats such as omega-3, your cells cannot function properly, and this applies to your eyes as well. Fish has always been an ideal source of omega-3 fats EPA and DHA, but in recent years, most fish have become too contaminated by environmental pollution to be safely eaten in large quantities on a regular basis. When choosing fish, it's critical to understand that while fish have significant health benefits, it's important to select fish that are low in mercury contamination. Wild-caught Alaskan salmon fits the bill, as it's very high in healthful fats such as omega-3s, and low in mercury.
The omega-3 fat DHA is concentrated in your eye's retina. It provides structural support to cell membranes that boost eye health and protect retinal function, and research suggests eating more foods rich in these fats may slow macular degeneration. For example, research has shown that:
Those with the highest intake of animal-based omega-3 fats have a 60 percent lower risk of advanced macular degeneration, compared to those who consume the least
A 2009 study also found that those with the highest consumption of omega-3 fats were 30 percent less likely to progress to the advanced form of the disease over a 12-year period
A second study published in 2009 also found that those with diets high in omega-3 fats along with vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, lutein, and zeaxanthin, had a lower risk of macular degeneration
Wild-caught salmon also contains another nutrient that can do "wonders" for your eye health, namely astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is produced only by the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis when its water supply dries up, forcing it to protect itself from ultraviolet radiation. It's the algae's survival mechanism—astaxanthin serves as a "force field" to protect the algae from lack of nutrition and/or intense sunlight. There are only two main sources of astaxanthin: the microalgae that produce it, and the sea creatures that consume the algae (such as salmon, shellfish, and krill).
Compelling evidence suggests this potent antioxidant may be among the most important nutrients for the prevention of blindness. It's a much more powerful antioxidant than both lutein and zeaxanthin, and has been found to have protective benefits against a number of eye-related problems
THE MAGIC OF GARLIC by Dr Mercola
Of all the foods Mother Nature provides, few foods offer more of a “botanical bonanza” for your health than garlic. Garlic is a bulbous root closely related to the onion, mentioned in historical documents dating back 5,000 years—before its fame wafted into the rest of the known world.
Speaking of wafting, garlic’s nickname “stinking rose” is well-deserved due to its undeniably pungent aroma that some find objectionable, but others find intoxicating.
Numerous studies show garlic’s amazing health potential in nearly every area of your body, from clogged arteries to gangrene to preventing insect bites and ear infections. There is even evidence that garlic is able to help slow your aging process. When it comes to this magical bulb, what’s not to love?
Garlic Epitomizes a ‘Heart Healthy Food’Like so many other complex plant foods, garlic contains a wide range of phytocompounds that act together to produce a wide variety of responses in your body. Garlic is rich in manganese, calcium, phosphorus, selenium, and vitamins B6 and C, so it’s beneficial for your bones as well as your thyroid.
Garlic also helps your body cleanse itself of heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic.Green Med Info has also assembled a list of studies demonstrating garlic's positive effects for more than 150 different diseases.2 In general, its benefits fall into four main categories:
Reducing inflammation (reduces risk of osteoarthritis as mentioned in the video above)
Boosting immune function (antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antiparasitic properties)
Improving cardiovascular health and circulation (protects against clotting, retards plaque, improves lipids, and reduces blood pressure)
Toxic to 14 kinds of cancer cells (including brain, lung, breast, and pancreatic)
The fact that garlic is so effective in fighting multiple types of cancer is probably related to its potent antioxidant effects. Garlic contains the precursors to allicin—a compound I’ll be discussing in detail shortly. Allicin is one of the most potent antioxidants from the plant kingdom.
In fact, researchers have determined that sulfenic acid, produced during the rapid decomposition of allicin, reacts with and neutralizes free radicals faster than any other known compound—it’s almost instantaneous when the two molecules meet. And as an anti-infective, garlic has been demonstrated to kill everything from candida to herpes, MRSA, drug-resistant tuberculosis, and even HIV.
Garlic’s Secret Weapon: AllicinResearchers have found that allicin is an effective natural "antibiotic" that can eradicate even antibiotic-resistant bugs. An added benefit is that the bacteria appear incapable of developing a resistance to the compound. However, the garlic must be fresh because the active agent is destroyed in less than an hour after smashing the garlic clove.
Garlic technically does not contain allicin, but rather, it contains two agents in separate compartments of the clove that react to form the sulfur-rich compound allicin when the plant needs it: alliin and an enzyme called allinase. So, what makes them react?
Garlic has a robust defense system to protect itself from insects and fungi. It enzymatically produces allicin within seconds when it is injured. The crushing of its tissues causes a chemical reaction between the alliin and the allinase, and allicin is produced—nature’s “insecticide.” This is what makes garlic such a potent anti-infective, as well as what produces that pungent aroma when you cut into it.
But allicin is short-lived, lasting less than an hour. Therefore, cooking, aging, crushing, and otherwise processing garlic causes allicin to immediately break down into other compounds, so it’s difficult to get allicin up to biologically active levels in your body
Plus, an Army of Sulfur-Rich PhytochemicalsMore than 100 different compounds have been identified in garlic, some of which come from the rapid breakdown of allicin itself. The absorption, metabolism, and biological effects of all these compounds are only partially understood. So, although garlic is known to possess a wealth of health benefits, we still do not know exactly which benefits come from which compounds, what compounds get into which tissues, etc.
As powerful as allicin is as an anti-infective, it only makes sense that garlic’s other health effects come from the synergism of those many OTHER compounds. This is a complicated topic, and if you want to explore it further, the Oregon State’s Linus Pauling Institute has a comprehensive article in their online Micronutrient Information Center
What About Garlic Supplements?Most commercial garlic supplements perform quite poorly when it comes to actually being able to form allicin in your body. Allinase is destroyed by the strong acids in your stomach, which is why most supplements are “enteric coated,” to keep them from dissolving until they enter your small intestine. But most supplements tested produce only minimal amounts of allicin under these tough digestive conditions. Many garlic supplements list “allicin potential” on the label, which refers to how much allicin couldbe formed when alliin is converted, not how much allicin is actually produced.
Claims of actual “allicin release” may be more reliable, but with digestive conditions being so individual and variable, I would be less than confident you’re getting what the label promises. Therefore, when it comes to garlic, I believe it is much better to eat the real food rather than rely on a supplement. And due to the fact that allicin won’t be formed unless the garlic clove is crushed, you have to crush it before swallowing to get the full benefit, or chew it up. If chewing up raw garlic is a bit too hardcore for you, then you may have cause for celebration: aged black garlic to the rescue!
Aged Black Garlic Has Arrived!Developed in Korea, black garlic has been gaining popularity among Western foodies for several years now, but it has recently caught the eye of the health-minded due to studies revealing its impressive nutritional properties. Black garlic is produced by “fermenting” whole bulbs of fresh garlic in a humidity-controlled environment in temperatures of about 140 to 170 degrees F for 30 days. No additives, no preservatives... just pure garlic. Once out of the heat, the bulbs are then left to oxidize in a clean room for 45 days. This lengthy process causes the garlic cloves to turn black and develop a soft, chewy texture with flavors reminiscent of “balsamic vinegar” and “soy sauce,” with a sweet “prune-like” taste. Aficionados claim the flavor will impress even the most avid garlic-hater, as the pungency and spiciness is gone.
Although the process is consistently described as “fermentation,” it really isn’t that in the strictest sense, as the transformation does not involve microbial processes—specifically, enzymatic breakdown and the Maillard Reaction are responsible for the caramelization of the sugars, dark color and deep, complex flavor profile. As the pearly white cloves slowly transition into their final black appearance, compounds in the fresh garlic transform into a whole new range of compounds. Compared to fresh garlic, black garlic is low in alliin but it is astonishingly high in other antioxidants!
Double the Antioxidants of Fresh GarlicIn a 2009 mouse study, Japanese researchers found that black garlic was more effective than fresh garlic in reducing the size of tumors. The study was published in the journal Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Science and Technology In another study, black garlic was found to have twice the antioxidant levels as fresh—the aging/fermenting process appears to double the antioxidants. Black garlic is packed with high concentrations of sulfurous compounds, especially one in particular: s-allylcycteine (SAC).Science has shown a number of health benefits from SAC, including inhibition of cholesterol synthesis
Perhaps this is why Mandarin oil painter Choo Keng Kwang experienced a complete reversal of his psoriasis after just four days of eating half a bulb of black garlic a day—this, after trying countless medically prescribed skin creams that were all complete failures.
An advantage of SAC is that it is well-absorbed and much more stable than allicin and 100 percent bioavailable. Researchers are confident it plays a significant role in garlic’s overall health benefits. Be mindful, however, that black garlic’s benefits may be more effective than fresh garlic for some conditions but not others, given its allicin content is low. For example, I suspect it may not be as effective if you have an infection, as allicin is thought to be the primary anti-infective agent in garlic, and fresh garlic is higher in allicin than black.
Sprouted Garlic Is Fresh Garlic, Multiplied...Do you toss your garlic into the compost pile when it begins sending up those bright green shoots? You might want to stop doing that after you read the most recent report about sprouted garlic. In an article published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, garlic sprouted for five days was found to have higher antioxidant activity than fresher, younger bulbs, and it had different metabolites, suggesting it also makes different substances.
Researchers concluded that sprouting your garlic might be a useful way to improve its antioxidant potential. Extracts from this garlic even protected cells in a laboratory dish from certain types of damage. This isn’t really surprising when you consider the nutritional changes that typically occur in plants when they sprout. When seedlings grow into green plants, they make many new compounds, including those that protect the young plant against pathogens. The same thing is likely happening when green shoots grow from old heads of garlic.
Sprouting—Intentionally!Growing your own sprouts is a great way to boost your nutrition, especially if you have limited space for gardening. Sprouted seeds of various kinds can contain up to 30 times the nutrition of homegrown organic vegetables and allow your body to extract more vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential fats from the foods you eat. If you want more information, please refer to our earlier article about sprouting. While you can sprout a variety of different beans, nuts, seeds, and grains, sprouts in general have the following beneficial attributes:
Support for cell regeneration
Powerful sources of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes that protect against free radical damage
Alkalinizing effect on your body, which is thought to protect against disease, including cancer (as many tumors are acidic)
Abundantly rich in oxygen, which can also help protect against abnormal cell growth, viruses, and bacteria that cannot survive in an oxygen-rich environment
Black Garlic or White, They're Both GoodWhether you choose to go raw or adventure into the black, you can’t go wrong with garlic. It gives new meaning to the term “heart healthy food”! And garlic goes with just about everything. You can smother your roasting chicken with it, sauté it with veggies, add it to your salad dressing, or run it right through your juicer along with the other veggies for a real immune-booster. Whatever form of garlic you prefer, you can have some fun experimenting as you widen your culinary repertoire, and build your health at the same time!
JONES AND FEIJOA
were you ever introduced to Feijoa? no, it's not the girl next door, it's a fruit... it was a rare treat back in Moscow... I was indulging myself on it while getting out of my first 21 days water fast in 2004... Native to some south america's countries, Feijoa tastes like a mixture of several other fruits, usually described as pineapple, guava, and strawberry and the fruit healing properties are related to a high content of iodine (that assists in thyroid balanced functioning)... these are all well known facts but did you know that Feijoa could also bring people together?.. if you do not believe me, take a look at these photos (we have not seen Diana and her daughter, ballerina Lera for about three years) and our meeting was all cos of two very happy Feijoa trees...
Diet is the most important part of a good skin care routine. As the old saying goes, beauty truly does come from within. No matter how much money or effort you sink into expensive facial products, skin will almost always reflect what’s being put into the body. (A few lucky people can eat anything and never get a pimple, but that’s unusual.)
It’s as much about what you don’t eat as what you do. A diet rich in high-glycemic carbohydrates, such as refined grains and sugar, has been shown to trigger breakouts. By boosting the body’s blood sugar too quickly, the pancreas produces extra insulin to bring those levels down, which also triggers production in the sebaceous glands. These make sebum, a good oil which flushes out dead skin cells and keeps our skin lubricated via pores, but too much of it results in jammed pores, whiteheads, and blackheads. Milk also triggers sebum production, while some vegetable oils (safflower, sesame, corn, sunflower) promote inflammation.
The good news is that you can eat and drink your way to beautiful skin. Incorporate the following foods into your diet as much as possible, while minimizing your intake of the foods mentioned above.
1. CarrotsRemember your parents telling you that eating carrots would give you great eyesight? (It didn’t seem to work for me; I just got carrot-colored hair instead.) It was vitamin A that they were talking about, a powerful antioxidant that comes in the form of beta-carotene in carrots. It helps maintain good vision, teeth, and bones, while ensuring normal skin cell development and firm skin tone.
2. BerriesThe goal is to get lots of vitamin C, which is another great antioxidant that will make skin smooth and taut by boosting collagen production. Vitamin C supports the immune system, helps skin to heal properly, and can help you attain that glowing look. Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and black currants are particularly rich in vitamin C, and conveniently lower in sugar than many other fruits.
3. Brazil nutsOnly a small handful of Brazil nuts can provide your daily supply of selenium, yet another antioxidant that works alongside vitamins A and C to boost the immune system. A diet rich in selenium can protect against melanoma, sun damage, and age spots. Other good sources are seeds (sunflower, chia, pumpkin), wheat germ, and meat. Many nuts also contain vitamin E, which helps hold in moisture.
4. ParsleyA humble sprig of parsley is surprisingly high in vitamin K, which helps skin to heal itself and promotes elasticity and good skin tone. Also loaded with vitamins A and C, parsley can cleanse the urinary tract and kidneys, while clearing blemishes and reducing redness. Parsley’s volatile oils have antibacterial and anti fungal properties that disinfect pores and prevent acne.
5. Whole grainsPacked with fiber, whole grains are good for reducing the inflammation caused by their overly refined counterparts. They stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce insulin spikes. Whole grains contain zinc, which is repairs skin damage, maintains smoothness and suppleness, and regulates sebum production. The B-vitamin biotin found in whole grains assists skin cells in processing fats, without which skin becomes dry and scaly.
Remember, too, to drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated. Herbal and green teas are also good, but keep away from sugary juices and soda.