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You See What You Eat

In a study funded by the National Institutes of Health at the University of Alabama 20,000 participants were asked to think about what they ate, how much they ate and how often.

From the information gathered they were able to make patterns of eating, based on demographics. The younger participants ate what is called a more traditional pattern of mixed meals like Mexican, Chinese, pizza, pasta

Another pattern was called the sweet-tooth. These participants had cravings for take-out and more than the occasion happy hour drink. “Consuming that much processed and sweet food is a little bit alarming. One would think that is probably not going to be a good thing” says Suzanne Judd from the University of Alabama.

I would agree with Suzanne. Your body needs the right vitamins and minerals and other nutrients to stay healthy. Knowing what you eat now can help you make changes in your diet. So I would encourage you to start a food diary, at least for a month or two.

So what does this have to do with your eyes? Glad you asked. Most everyone have heard of the saying “you are what you eat”. I propose a new saying “you see what you eat”.

More and more research is showing that proper nutrients and portion sizes not only help decrease your risks of systemic disease, they are also important for decreasing the risks of developing eye diseases such as dry eye, age-relate macular degeneration and possibly glaucoma and cataracts.

Some of the key nutrients responsible for good eye health are essential fatty acids and antioxidants. Essential fatty acids are named as such because our body can not manufacture them, it is essential that they are consumed. They include the omega 3 and omega 6 oils. The omega 3 oils reduce inflammation that is present in dry eye syndrome and age-related macular degeneration. The omega 6 oil has health benefits in limited amounts….too much can actually cause inflammation! The ratio of omega oils 3 to omega 6 oils should be between 1:1 to 1:3. Unfortunately, the Standard American Diet (SAD) has a ratio of about 1:15. It increases inflammation.

Your intake of omega 3 oil in can be increased by adding fish such as salmon, tuna or sardines to your diet 2-3 times per week. You can also take supplements over the counter, just be sure the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 is adequate. For most people the dosage is 1500 mg per day.

The take away from this blog? Be aware of what you eat. Once you know what you eat, then and only then can you make the changes that will ensure you are on the way to optimal systemic and ocular health.