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6 Powerhouse Foods for Eye Health and Protection

6 Powerhouse Foods for Eye Health and Protection

How are your eyes?

If you live in the United States, chances are that you are one of the 75% of people who require corrective lenses of some kind, or one of the 22 million Americans affected by cataracts. These incredibly high numbers are testament to the fragility of our eyesight. One of our most prized senses, it is unfortunately also susceptible to some of the most degenerative conditions out there and can easily be compromised by external factors, such as our lifestyle. Indeed, while failing eyesight is often perceived as being a natural side-effect of ageing, there are plenty of ways we can protect our eyes, ensuring better eye health for longer.

For instance, stopping smoking, stepping away from the computer screen or – perhaps the most obvious of all – making sure we wear the right kind of sunglasses (i.e., lenses that block 99-100% of both UVA and UVB rays) will all contribute to keeping our peepers happy and safe. However, did you know that a healthy diet, rich in certain kinds of nutrients, also plays an important role in improving our eye health and preventing disease? Incorporate the following 6 eye-friendly foods into your meals and see the difference for yourself!

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1. Egg yolks

Better eye health with egg yolks

    If you regularly discard egg yolks because you believe they have an adverse effect on your cholesterol levels, think again: according to Paul Dougherty, medical director of Dougherty Laser Vision in Los Angeles, the yolk is in fact a prime source of lutein, a yellow-pigmented antioxidant that acts as a blue-light filter and combats free radicals in tandem with its sister compound, zeaxanthin. Combined with the zinc also present in egg yolks, these two compounds can help slow down age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss for people over 65 years old. The best way to eat them? Raw! If you don’t have the stomach for it, don’t worry: while it’s true that uncooked egg yolks contain more lutein than cooked yolks, our bodies are perfectly able to absorb the antioxidant from other sources, such as leafy greens, too. Simply combine these lutein-rich ingredients with olive or coconut oil for better absorption.

    2. Spinach (and other leafy greens)

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    Spinach and other leafy greens for better eye health

      Whatever you do, don’t forget to eat your greens! Dark, leafy greens such as cooked spinach and kalecollards and turnip greens all contain extremely high amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been proven to reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts. Although the compounds found in mixed greens aren’t as easily absorbed as those found in egg yolks, these vegetables are a great option for getting the antioxidants your eyes need for better health. Don’t forget to cook the greens in good quality olive oil or coconut oil to reap the full benefits!

      3. Salmon (and other fatty fish)

      Salmon and other fatty fish for better eye health

        Salmonmackereltuna and anchovies are not only delicious; they are also rich in the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, which is found in our retinas and is instrumental in preventing dry eye syndrome, as well as dramatically decreasing the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Two to four servings of these incredible fatty fish should be enough to ensure all round eye health; however, if you don’t eat seafood, you can get a good supply of DHA either through fish oil supplements, or by taking taking vegetarian supplements containing flaxseed oil or blackcurrant seed oil.

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        4. Berries and citrus fruit

        Berries and citrus fruit for better eye health

          Berries  – especially blueberries – are considered one of the healthiest foods for your eyes, owing to their high quantities of vitamins A, C and E, and zinc. Let’s break it down: vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant that prevents inflammation in the eyes while combating free radicals; vitamin C acts against intraocular pressure (the pressure within your eye), which if left unchecked can increase the potential for the development of glaucoma, the second most common cause of blindness in the United States; vitamin E may help prevent the formation of cataracts, while zinc is a powerful mineral that helps protect against night blindness and – you guessed it – macular degeneration. All in all, the humble blueberry is a nutritional powerhouse that does your eyes a world of good! Citrus fruit are another ally in your fight against eye disease, as they also contain a high concentration of vitamin C. Be sure to include different kinds of berries and citrus fruits in your regular rotation in order to reap all the benefits.

          5. Carrots (and other orange-hued produce)

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          Carrots and other orange produce for better eye sight

            While carrots and other orange-pigmented produce such as pumpkinsweet potato and mango aren’t miracle workers and won’t reverse bad eyesight, they can certainly help improve general eye health. Indeed, these fruits and vegetables contain lutein, the nutritional powerhouse contained amongst others in egg yolks and leafy greens, and beta-carotene, a substance that is converted into vitamin A by the body once it is absorbed. As we’ve seen, vitamin A is extremely beneficial to eye health, so be sure to include various different sources of it in your diet for optimal effect.

            6. Almonds

            Almonds for better eye sight

              Almonds – and indeed, many different types of nuts – are rich in vitamin E, which, as we have seen, has been proven to slow macular degeneration and protect your eyes against the formation of cataracts. Simply indulge in a handful of almonds a day to obtain roughly half of your daily recommended dose, and supplement with berries and other vitamin E rich foods for good, all round health.

              We are far more in control of our health than we realise and it is our responsibility to give our bodies the nutrition they need to thrive. By incorporating these 6 eye-friendly foods into your diet, you’re taking a step in the right direction! 

              Featured photo credit: AlesiaCom via alesiacom.com

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              Last Updated on December 9, 2019

              5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

              5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

              Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

              Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

              Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

              1. Get Rationally Optimistic

              Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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              This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

              In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

              The result: no more mental stress.

              2. Unplug

              Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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              How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

              It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

              Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

              3. Easy on the Caffeine

              Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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              Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

              4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

              That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

              How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

              • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
              • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
              • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

              While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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              5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

              This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

              The result: mental stress will be gone!

              So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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              Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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