by ROSALIND RYAN, femail.co.uk
Your mother’s advice that carrots can help you see in the dark may have been more than a ploy to get you to eat vegetables.Research has now proved that eating certain foods can improve your eyesight, reverse the signs of optical ageing and keep your eyes in good health.
One of the most common causes of poor sight is a condition called macular degeneration. This condition accounts for 50 per cent of all blindness and sight problems in the UK.
Imagine that your eye is like a camera. There is a lens and an opening at the front that focuses objects onto the retina at the back of your eye. The macula lies in the centre of the retina, which is sensitive to light.
Sometimes the cells of the macula become damaged and you lose the ability to appreciate colours or focus on detailed activities like reading. The condition rarely causes total blindness but can blur your central vision and sometimes make you sensitive to light.
It normally affects those over 60 years old, earning the name age related macular degeneration (ARMD), but a genetic form of the condition can also affect children and young people.
Doctors do not know exactly why the cells of the macular start to fail. One theory is that ARMD is triggered by free-radicals, harmful chemicals that your body picks up from sunlight, the atmosphere and cigarette smoke.
But there are some steps you can take to protect your eyes for the future. Follow our guide to eating your way to better eyesight.
Eat your greens
A recent study by the Florida International University found that eyes containing higher amounts of a nutrient called lutein were up to 80 per cent less likely to be suffering from ARMD.
Lutein protects the eye by forming pigments in the macula. The pigments help with vision by filtering out harmful blue light wavelengths that can damage the eye. The more pigments your eye contains, the less likely it is to fall prey to ARMD.
The Eyecare Trust, a national charity devoted to raising awareness of eye health, says, ‘There is increasing evidence to show that eating vegetables containing lutein is crucial to maintaining pigment density levels in the macula.’ Unfortunately lutein is not generated naturally by the body so you need to make sure you are getting enough from other sources.
These are mainly green leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli and kale. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating a teaspoon of green leafy veggies with a small amount of fat raised blood lutein levels by nearly 90 per cent.
You need to eat lutein-rich vegetables for several months before seeing any benefits. But if you get bored of eating spinach, you can take a vitamin supplement to boost your lutein levels. These are available from all major health food stores.
A study published in Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science discovered that volunteers taking 10 mg of natural lutein supplements every day for 12 weeks significantly increased the amount of macular pigment in their eyes.
Start crunching on carrots
It is true – eating carrots can help you see in the dark. The essential nutrient responsible is carotene which is turned into vitamin A by the liver.
Vitamin A protects the eyes by helping to absorb the light energy that passes into the eye. Increased levels of vitamin A means
your eyes can absorb more energy and become more sensitive in dim light, helping you see more effectively.Karen Sparrow, spokeswoman for opticians Vision Express, says, ‘Children that are deficient in vitamin A often have dry eyes and in extreme cases can suffer from night ‘blindness’ where they have trouble seeing in the dark.’
Good sources of carotene are carrots, mangoes and cabbage. You can also find it in cod liver oil, milk and eggs.
Another fruit famed for its ability to boost night vision is blueberries. Anecdotal evidence from RAF pilots in World War Two shows they felt their night vision improved after eating blueberries.
The ‘magic’ ingredient in blueberries is a group of compounds called anthocyanosides. These attach to the area of the retina that is responsible for adjusting the eye to see in the dark.
You will need to eat blueberries for more than two months before starting to notice any effects. If they are difficult to get hold of, you can take them in capsule form or tablets, available from good health food shops. Aim to take up to 600 mg every day.
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8 Signs You May Have Gluten Intolerance
Almost anybody can tell you at least a little bit about gluten, as it has become quite the villain in today’s dietary world. In reality, gluten intolerance is a very serious issue and, although it may be up on the radar recently, it is more than just a passing fad.
Most people tend to consider gluten intolerance to be a food allergy or they may equate it with celiac disease. It is neither. It is a condition that occurs in the gut and if it is not cared for properly, it can affect your lifestyle in many ways.
When gluten proteins remain undigested in the gut, they are considered a foreign invader by the body and treated as such. As a result, your gut can become irritated and the absorption of food is reduced significantly.
Gastrointestinal issues can cause a number of uncomfortable problems, including pain, diarrhea and vomiting. When it comes to gluten intolerance, however, the signs may be similar or they could be quite different. Unfortunately, an issue with gluten intolerance often goes undiagnosed because most people continue to eat gluten and simply ignore the symptoms they are experiencing. Doing so can lead to additional diseases and autoimmune problems that could last a lifetime.
The following are 8 common signs that could point to gluten intolerance. If you are experiencing these symptoms with any severity, your doctor should be consulted.
1. Stomach Pain – One of the most common signs of gluten intolerance is stomach pain, along with other gastrointestinal issues. Those issues can include bloating, diarrhea, gas and constipation. When you eat foods that contain gluten, it can irritate the lining of the small intestine and can affect your ability to absorb vitamins and minerals from the food you’re eating.
2. Dizziness – Although most people would ignore this issue or consider it to be something else, gluten intolerance can often lead to disorientation, brain fog and feeling as if you are off-balance. Those issues are more likely to occur after you eat foods that contain gluten.
If you constantly have a cloudy feeling, don’t consider it to be normal, it isn’t! After you removed gluten from your diet, you may feel as if the cloud has been lifted from your thoughts.
3. Mood Swings – It is true that many different issues could lead to mood swings but gluten intolerance is one of those issues that should not be ignored. Many people that have such an intolerance feel as if they are anxious, irritable and upset for no reason after eating gluten.
4. Migraines – headaches can occur for many reasons as well but gluten intolerance can lead to chronic migraines and it should be considered a warning sign. Typically, the migraine will occur anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes after you eat.
5. Skin Itchiness – Due to the fact that your gut is having a problem processing gluten, inflammation is likely to follow. Your skin may also experience problems as a result of the inflammation, and it can show in a number of different ways. When your gut is unhappy, it can lead to dry, itchy skin and issues such as psoriasis and eczema.
6. Fibromyalgia – Approximately 4% of the population in the United States, mostly women, suffer from fibromyalgia. There are some rheumatology experts who feel as if gluten sensitivity may have a lot to do with the prevalence of fibromyalgia. It may not be directly related to it, but the gluten sensitivity could cause health problems that would lead to a secondary form of fibromyalgia.
7. Chronic Fatigue – When there are problems in the body, you are likely to feel mentally and physically exhausted. Even though you may be getting plenty of sleep at night, you still wake up in the morning feeling as if you are drained. This also has a lot to do with inflammation and the energy your body is expanding while it tries to manage the gluten proteins that you should not be eating.
8. Lactose Intolerance – The symptoms of gluten intolerance and lactose intolerance are very similar to each other. That is why it shouldn’t be surprising that individuals who have a problem with lactose may be more likely to have a problem with gluten proteins. In addition, dairy can lead to acid reflux and in turn, that can be a large part of gluten intolerance.