23 July 2019

Part 3 - Healthy Living for Life - Learn How Nutrition and Diseases Impact Eye Health

Did you know your overall health plays an important role in eye health and vice versa? Learn how you can keep your vision sharp and what health conditions ...

- Welcome back to Healthy Living for Life. Joining us now is dietician Jaime Larese,

who is going to talk about nutrition and how it impacts eye health. Thanks so much for being here today, Jaime. - Thanks for having me. - [Beth] So let's dive right in and talk about antioxidants and how they play a big role in eye health. Can you tell us what they are, and how they impact our vision? - Yeah, so simply, antioxidants prevent oxidation. So when you think of antioxidants, it's really easy to think of them as a compound that prevents rust. So if we think about our body and our eyes especially, as we age, as we are living our lives, with air, with water, with soil, we tend to rust, much like other things, - Interesting. - and so what antioxidants do, where we get them from food, is they prevent that oxidation. Why that's important is because oxidation causes what are called free radicals. Free radicals can be thought of almost like little PAC-MANs, that are going into your body, and they're actually attacking your healthy cells because they wanna take something from them. And so if we let free radicals go awry, what happens is is our organs and our systems start to rust even more. And that includes everything, especially our eyes. - [Beth] Okay, so let's talk about beta-carotene. And so people have heard before, carrots are good for your eyesight. Is that true? Is that the beta-carotene, and can you talk about that? - Yeah, so antioxidants have a bunch of different classifications. What beta-carotenes are part of is a class of compounds called carotenoids. So beta-carotene is probably most notable, as a powerful antioxidant, because it's the most noticeable in orange fruits and vegetables. So when you think about carrots, carrots have the highest amount of beta-carotene. Our bodies can't necessarily use beta-carotene, so there's no supplement for beta-carotene, but what it does is when we have enough beta-carotene, it converts it into an essential nutrient called vitamin A. Vitamin A is then what helps to prevent the oxidation. Most notably, oxidation is seen in our eyes with macular degeneration and cataracts. So by having beta-carotene in our diet, we get enough vitamin A, we help to prevent those eye diseases. - So you mentioned the orange. What other vegetables would you recommend for getting beta-carotene?

- I do recommend every sort of colorful vegetable. Everything works together. So beta-carotene is gonna work alongside a ton of other vitamins and minerals and other antioxidants. But what people can do is really look for those colorful fruits and vegetables. Most notably, beta-carotene is a pigment that helps give color. So when you think about sweet potatoes, or carrots, or apricots, pumpkins. But beta-carotene is also found in green, leafy vegetables as well. - Okay. - Like broccoli and spinach and kale. So when you think of any sort of powerful antioxidant, you just wanna make sure that you have a variety of color on your plate. - [Beth] Okay, great. And you mentioned vitamin A, but isn't vitamin E also a good one for your vision? Can you talk about vitamin E a little bit? - Yep, so vitamin E, along with vitamin C, are considered really powerful nutrients that also act as antioxidants. So if you think about the PAC-MAN that I was talking about, this is a very large PAC-MAN. Vitamin E can be toxic, though, if we take it in supplementation, so when we think about foods to ingest with vitamin E, if we have a nourishing diet, that is built upon the five food groups, you probably won't have a problem ingesting enough of these nutrients. But if you think about sunflower seeds, almonds, even whole grains, a variety of those foods will have high amounts of vitamin E, including things like eggs. - [Beth] Okay, and you threw out vitamin C too, what kind of foods should we be eating to get our vitamin C? - The easiest way to get vitamin C, which is one of the most powerful antioxidants, along with vitamin E, are fresh fruits and vegetables. We have to be really careful, though, with vitamin C, especially in supplementation form, because vitamin C is really heat-sensitive. So having fresh fruits and vegetables is a surefire way to know that you're getting enough vitamin C. Really easy, the plate method. Half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables. If you know that you are doing that on most days, and that's a pattern of eating, you have no problem getting enough vitamin C. - Okay, cool. And you talked about vitamins, let's now go to minerals. Can you talk about some minerals that we should be thinking about when it comes to our eye health? - So one of the most important minerals, as it relates to eye health, is zinc. The reason we know that is because when we look at the health of the retina, there's a lot of zinc

already in our retina. So we know that having zinc is important to eye health. We often don't get enough zinc, because we have a lot of food aversions. Food, especially for like vegetarians, people who don't eat meat, people who don't eat seafood, those are gonna be really good sources of meat. They're not the only ones, but those are your highest sources. - Okay, and so you just mentioned seafood. Are there minerals or vitamins in seafood and fish that we should be trying to get into our diets for our eye health? - Yeah, so not only, like I mentioned, do fish and seafood have high amounts of zinc, but omega-3s, which we know about, are not only important for heart health, but they're important for eye health. The retina especially is shown to have high amounts of omega-3, which is a fatty acid. Fatty acids are important because what they do is they repair our organs and cells. So as we're going through life, and we're naturally rusting, suffering from oxidation, including omega-3s in our diets helps eye health because that's already present. So when you think about omega-3s, especially here in Montana, trout. Trout has, everyone thinks salmon, but trout has really high amounts of omega-3s. But alongside trout is salmon, and we also have flaxseed and walnuts that contain large amounts of omega-3. - Okay. So if someone is not necessarily getting these vitamins or minerals because maybe they don't like some of those foods, do you recommend supplements? - You know, as a dietician, we always wanna go with food first. - Okay. - So if someone is not including a particular food group, the first thing I would do would be to go talk to a registered dietician. Only because they could then think of different ways, and different foods to get that in. If it's not salmon or trout, can we include flaxseed or walnuts? Or fruits and vegetables in another form? Supplementation is really designed for deficiency. Supplementation can be used most notably when someone already has a condition like macular degeneration or cataracts. We really wanna do food first, because that's how the body will recognize it. Especially when it comes to vitamin E and vitamin A, which are both fat-soluble vitamins, people who supplement have to be very careful, because those, over-supplementation can be very toxic. - Okay. - In another sense, supplements are not regulated by the FDA,

- Right. - So what we wanna do is make sure that if we're going to take supplements, we are using them food first. For instance, cod liver oil. We can't get cod liver oil just in the grocery store, we get it in a supplementation form. So going to talk to somebody like an MD or a naturopath or a dietician, food first, and then we can supplement otherwise. - [Beth] Okay, awesome. That's all the time we have, so we gotta stop there Jaime, but thanks so much, a lotta great information. - Yeah, you're welcome. - And I would like to thank Dr. Nottingham for being with us today as well, and thank you so much for tuning in. We hope to see you next week. In the meantime, stay fit, stay well, and stay healthy for life with Healthy Living for Life. Have a great week. - [Announcer] Healthy Living for Life is brought to you by Mountain-Pacific Quality Health. We'd love to hear from you. If you have suggestions for future programs, visit our website at MPQHF.org, or call us at 406-443-4020. You can also catch us on YouTube by visiting our website and clicking on the YouTube icon. Special thanks to Fire Tower Coffee House and Roasters. Production facilities provided by Video Express Productions.