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Glaucoma & Nutrition

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Glaucoma and Nutrition: Why What You Eat Matters

Following a healthy diet isn’t a magic bullet and can’t prevent glaucoma but there are benefits to eating certain foods and avoiding others if you are one of the many people living with glaucoma. There’s no shortage of diet programs:

  • Paleo;
  • Mediterranean;
  • Intermittent Fasting; and
  • Keto.

These diet programs all claim to be the best option for a healthy life. Research has shown that poor lifestyle choices, including unhealthy diets, contribute to many diseases and that simply adhering to good nutrition can even prevent some health issues.

For those living with Glaucoma, try eating fruits and veggies. They are good sources of vitamins A, C and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, compounds are known to protect against oxidative stress associated with damage to the optic nerve and other tissues of the eye in glaucoma.

Recommendations to eat leafy greens are well-known as a key for optimum health, but a diet that includes leafy greens may also provide additional benefits to patients with glaucoma. Research shows that people who eat more leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach may have a 20 to 30 percent lower risk of developing the disease. Eating leafy greens is also linked to lower rates of inflammation, cancer, heart disease and even macular degeneration, so you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Other items you can have that may lower your chance of developing glaucoma are:

  • Nuts and seeds;
  • Fish;
  • Chocolate;
  • Tea; and
  • Sources of Magnesium (Bananas, Avocados, Black Beans).

On the flip side there are foods people living with glaucoma should avoid. Foods that contribute to metabolic syndrome, obesity, blood pressure abnormalities and diabetes are risk factors for primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG). Therefore, a diet that helps maintain normal blood pressure and blood glucose concentrations help reduce substantial risk for glaucoma.

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Caloric intake is another factor for glaucoma patients. One study found that healthy caloric restriction can positively affect the eyes, making it more likely to trigger what the researchers refer to as “anti-aging mechanisms,” helping them limit ocular dysfunction. Diets high in carbohydrates have also been correlated with a greater risk of glaucoma, while a lower intake of carbohydrates correlates with lesser risk.

Understanding how diet can impact the risk of glaucoma and following healthy dietary guidelines can play an essential role in the lives of people living with glaucoma.

To access the full article on how nutrition affects glaucoma, click here.