Balanced healthy eating and the topic of healthy eyes have gained increasing popularity in recent years, taking precedence over the countless miracle diets named after doctors of dubious origins.
Thanks to the large database that people all over the world have access to today, knowledge of the true principles of nutrition and body mechanics are being disseminated and put into use to make us healthier and happier.
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All fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products, and meats have certain nutrients, vitamins, and minerals which certainly are essential for the optimal function of the human body (except in cases of intolerance).
Therefore aiming to eat a balanced diet is crucial in the desire for a healthier lifestyle.
In the course of this article, we will become familiar with the foundations of healthy eating, the three main nutrients and not least – which foods can improve our vision with Iris.
According to several health organizations, a healthy eating regime also includes the consumption of more plant-based foods and less processed.
First, of course, some fruits and vegetables as kings of every rating, associated with our health.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends consuming 400 gr fruits and vegetables a day, excluding potatoes, sweet potatoes, and other starchy roots.
Fruits and vegetables contain a variety of antioxidants, minerals, and fiber, thus making us feel full for longer.
Whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, etc are rich in fiber and B-vitamins.
The protein sources help both in the formation and preservation of bone, muscle, and skin.
Such are meat, fish, as well as dairy products, eggs, legumes, seeds, nuts.
The infographic below shows approximately how much of your serving should come from fruits and vegetables, whole grains and proteins.
½ of your serving must contain fruits and vegetables, ¼ with whole grains and the last ¼ – with protein.
It is good to add a few healthy fats like olive oil, canola oil and less often butter.
After we have learned about the requirements of a healthy diet (meaning a non-restrictive diet that we can easily sustain throughout our lives, not the “bad” meaning of the word most commonly associated with it), let’s become familiar with all three essential nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for living organisms.
They are important for the proper functioning of the central nervous system since the brain is the largest consumer of carbohydrates at rest.
Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose. Then the glucose moves through the blood to all tissues and organs.
Some of it is used for energy purposes and another is stored in the form of glycogen in the muscles and liver, to be used when needed.
When glycogen stores are saturated, excess carbohydrates are transported to fat cells and converted to fat.
In strength and cardio workouts, they are a major fuel.
If the organism does not have enough in store, it is very likely to affect athletic performance.
The division of carbohydrates into “simple” and “complex” depends on their structure, and on “fast” and “slow” on their glycemic index.
The glycemic index is a scale by which rates how fast a carbohydrate breaks down in the organism to glucose.
One gram of carbohydrates contains 4 calories.
Proteins are the main building blocks in the cellular structures of living organisms.
They play a key role in nutrition, related to the renewal, growth, and development of the human body.
The latter needs a certain amount of amino acids (the building blocks of the proteins) every day.
If there is a protein deficiency in the body, it responds with delayed development, loss of muscle mass or even disease.
When the protein intake corresponds with the body’s daily needs, hunger and satiety are controlled, the metabolism speeds up, muscle mass is preserved.
One gram of protein contains the same amount of calories as carbohydrates – 4.
Fats are organic compounds, part of the group of the lipids, which are characterized by insolubility in water and are an essential building block of cell membranes.
Three are the main functions of fatty acids in the human body – they are: 1) a source of energy, 2) involved in the structure of different parts of the cell, and 3) the building material for the production of important substances such as hormones, neurotransmitters, and others.
Four types of fat are extremely important to be familiar with: 1) trans fat, 2) saturated fat, 3) monounsaturated fat, and 4) polyunsaturated fat.
People all around the world know that trans fat is one of the biggest enemies of human health and the fight against its elimination from the food we consume is yet to become bigger.
Saturated fats are also harmful.
However, a 2010 study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found no sufficient evidence that saturated fatty acids are relevant to cardiovascular disease and heart attacks. 350 000 people have taken part in the study.
The fats that are vital for the human body are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.
You can find them in avocados, nuts and some vegetable oils such as olive oil, as well as in foods rich in Omega-6 and Omega-3 as vegetable oils (sunflower, hemp, flax), nuts, seeds (chia, hemp), seafood.
These fatty acids are essential for the body since it can not synthesize them on its own.
Therefore we need to get them from food. So it is utterly important to be sure that we consume the right amount.
Fat is denser in calories than the other two main nutrients – carbohydrates and proteins – containing 9 calories per one gram.
Let’s make it clear – there are no “good” and “bad” foods. There simply are nutrient-dense foods and less nutrient-dense foods.
The nutrient-dense foods are the ones that should form the bigger part of our diet like fruits, vegetables, grains, meat.
The less nutrient-dense foods are most often the processed foods that we should consume in smaller amounts.
It has been found in an age-related eye disease study conducted in 2001, that certain nutrients (zinc, copper, vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene) – can reduce the risk of eye disease caused by aging by up to 25%.
The study was updated in 2013 to try different formulas. Options included Omega-3 fatty acids, zeaxanthin, lutein, and beta carotene.
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The conclusion was that some combinations worked better than others.
What all studies agree on though, is that Omega-3 fatty acids, copper, lutein, and zeaxanthin are essential for healthy eyes.
If you want to know which foods will help you fight against age-related eye disease, this article is the right one for you!
We will present to you a ranking of the healthiest foods for our visual organs.
Many fish are a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Oily fish retain fat in their intestines and body tissue, so their consumption provides high levels of Omega-3s.
The fish containing the most beneficial amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids are tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, herring.
Some studies have found that fish oil can help combat dry eyes, including dry eyes caused by spending too much time on the computer.
Nuts are also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
They contain vitamin E as well, which can protect the eyes from age-related diseases.
Such nuts are walnuts, brazil nuts, cashew, peanuts.
Just like nuts, seeds are a good source of Omega-3 and vitamin E.
Try to incorporate chia seeds, flax seeds and hemp seeds in your diet.
Citrus fruits contain high amounts of vitamin C.
Like vitamin E, vitamin C is an antioxidant, recommended in the combat with eye diseases.
Citrus fruits rich in vitamin C are lemon, orange, grapefruit.
You may have wondered (or may have not) why the sun does not dry and spoil the leaves exposed to excessive heat and sunlight.
It is thought to be partially due to two carotenoids called lutein and zeaxanthin.
They can also be found in our eyes and help prevent or at least delay eye diseases such as macular degeneration caused by excessive exposure to ultraviolet light, and in particular, high-energy visible light.
You can find Zeaxanthin in the macula in high concentrations.
A healthy macula should have darker pigmentation.
In turn, it will not let the harmful blue light reach the retina.
The leafy greens we should try to consume often are spinach, kale, cabbage.
We have heard since we were young that we have to eat carrots (even if we hated them sincerely) in order to have healthy eyes.
And in fact, it turns out it is not a myth but the truth – carrots contain vitamin A and beta carotene, which is responsible for their orange color.
Vitamin A plays a significant role in vision.
It is a protein- rhodopsin that helps the retina absorb light.
Veal is rich in zinc, which is related to better long-term eye health.
The eye itself contains high amounts of zinc and it aids in slowing down age-related vision loss and avoiding macular degeneration.
Eggs are a perfect source of lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc.
Water is vital for the body in every way, when it comes to eye health too, of course.
Drinking enough water prevents dehydration, which in turn can reduce the symptoms of dry eyes.
500 mg (milligram) of vitamin C
10 mg lutein
2 mg zeaxanthin
80 mg of zinc oxide
2 mg of copper oxide
Maintaining a healthy and varied diet, that includes a lot of fruits, vegetables and proteins is usually enough to provide people with most of the nutrients, responsible for eye health.
If for some reason you are unable to obtain the specific nutrients from the food, it is advisable to consult a doctor about possible eye health supplements.
People who have already developed an eye disease or those with restrictive diets should also consult a competent medical practitioner about which foods are right for them.
It can be also concluded that proper nutrition is the basis of human health.
All other external factors, especially the secondary ones (man-made) are just an addition.
In this case, such are sunglasses, lenses and many others.
But we must not complicate care by making it a burden – it must be a ritual of peace and pleasure.
Food can undoubtedly be both as long as we are patient and aware enough.
Contrary to the propagandized statement that food is our enemy, it is actually our most loyal friend when we have a healthy relationship with.
Color diversity, innumerable combinations and cooking methods, make healthy and balanced eating even more interesting, easy and affordable.
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Author: Ilina Stoyanova