A balanced, healthy diet is essential to maintaining the overall health of our bodies. Certain foods are often touted as being particularly healthy for certain aspects of health. Milk, for example, is linked to strong bones, and we often call fish “brain food”.
But which foods are central to eye health? The answer is almost all of them. You’ve probably heard that carrots are good for your eyes, and thanks to their high levels of beta-carotene, that’s true. (Just don’t expect a carrot-rich diet to up and replace your prescription eyeglasses.) But there are many other foods that affect your eye health, as well. Unfortunately, some of those foods are affecting your eyes in a negative way.
Processed meats (or anything high in salt)
We eat too much salt. Almost all of us are sailing past the recommended 2,300 milligrams per day, and a consistently high sodium intake can have several bigtime health ramifications. For one thing, it raises blood pressure. Since blood vessels run throughout our bodies, you can expect hypertension to wreak havoc on our whole system, and that includes the eyes. Untreated high blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in the retina, in turn damaging vision and compromising the health of the eyes.
Lowering our salt intake can be hard as salt seems to be just about everywhere and tracking it can be exhausting. Be aware that pasta, pizzas and canned foods are usually quite high in salt. Choosing lower sodium options is a good idea, but if you can’t stand the taste of these alternatives, try instead to eat smaller portions of full-salt options. The more food you cook at home, the more control you have over how much salt you consume.
We need some sugar in our lives. It’s essential for energy. That said, we’re all probably ingesting far too much of it. Just like salt, it’s not that sugar is inherently bad, it’s just that we’re overloading our bodies. When we take in too much sugar, our bodies store it for later use. For many of us, that “later use” never happens and we just end up gaining weight.
High sugar intake is linked to diseases like diabetes, which is known for its detrimental effects on eye health and vision. Bombarding the body with sugar may also lead to advanced macular degeneration later in life. Macular degeneration refers to a loss of sight in the center of one’s vision, and while it is commonly affected by genetics, there’s evidence to suggest that nutrition and other daily habits have an effect on its severity. While macular degeneration may be helped by supplements or prescription glasses, it is not curable, and the best treatment remains good prevention.
Fried foods (and other oily foods)
Before we get too far into how horrible oils are for your eyes, let’s get specific about what kinds of oil we’re talking about. Oil can be a confusing term because it comes in both healthy and unhealthy varieties, much like fats. Basically, it comes down to oxidation and omega-6.
Too much omega-6 relative to omega-3 can lead to chronic inflammation and, of course, eye issues. Oxidation is another problem. You’ve probably been told about the health benefits of antioxidants. Well, foods likely to oxidize, as many vegetable oils do, are the opposite of this. Margarine and many cooking oils are full of these problems, and fried foods are often cooked in these same types of oils.
Avoid fried foods as much as you can. Baking can often get you similar results with a fraction of the oil. It can also be difficult to measure how much oil ends up in fried foods, which is another good reason to avoid them. If you’re looking for a healthier oil alternative to cook with, consider flaxseed oil, which is similar to fish oil in preventing dry eyes with healthy doses of the good fatty acids your body needs.
A balanced diet
The key to a healthy lifestyle can be found in balance and moderation. Fill your diet with healthy foods, keep the unhealthy ones to a minimum, and try not to worry too much. If you are one of the few who can completely cut out the junk food, that’s great, but as for the rest of us, a few cheat days here and there are what keep us sane. (Or at the very least, research seems to suggest that sneaking a piece of pizza here and there can help people stick to a healthier diet long term.)
Last but not least, don’t forget about other things that can harm your eyes. Namely, UV rays from the sun, especially during these summer months. Make sure you’re donning a pair of 100 percent UV-resistant sunglasses, like the stylish shades we offer on 39DollarGlasses.com Remember, the more you protect your eyes now, the longer you’ll keep your healthy vision.