Cataract means the clouding of the lens in a person’s eye which can affect ones vision. Cataracts develop slowly in either one or both eyes. This condition is common in older people but there are cases when even younger people are afflicted with cataracts.
The lens in the eye is made mostly of water and protein. As a person age, some of the protein may clump together which starts to cloud a small area of the lens. That is cataract. In time, the cataract may become larger and cloud a larger area of the lens which makes it harder for a person to see.
There are studies which show that people with low levels of antioxidants in their bodies have a greater possibility of developing cataracts. Foods that are high in antioxidants may help remedy cataracts from the inside out.
Causes of Cataracts
Researchers have pointed to smoking and diabetes as two of the causes of cataract. Some believe it could be that the protein in the lens is changing due to wear and tear over the years.
There are many experts who believe that the following are some of the causes of cataracts:
- Genetic disorders
- Excessive exposure to direct light.
- Excessive exposure to glare from computer use.
- Harmful substances from processed foods which are low in fiber and high in fats, sugar, artificial sweeteners, caffeine, alcohol, drugs, steroids, mercury, and tobacco, among others.
- Deficiency in antioxidant and enzymes, such as Vitamin B12 (riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (niacin), Vitamin C, zinc, and selenium.
- Diseases like Diabetes.
Symptoms of Cataracts
The most common symptoms of cataract are:
- Cloudy or blurry vision
- Poor night vision
- Colors seem faded
- Frequent prescription changes in your eyeglasses or contact lenses
- Glare – headlights, lamps, or sunlight may appear too bright. A halo may appear around lights.
- Double vision or multiple images in one eye but this symptom may clear as the cataract gets larger.
If you have any of these symptoms, see your eye care professional as these can also be a sign of other eye problems.
A diet high in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables promote overall good health and is the best defenses against eye diseases. Grapes, grape seeds, blueberries, blackberries, bilberry, raspberries and strawberries are rich with a phytonutrient (anthocyanidins) that is effective in protecting against cell degeneration in our eyes.
This phyto-medicine may even increase your range of vision, improve short-sightedness, reduce inflammation and decrease sensitivity to bright lights, all good for eye problems.
Other good ‘eye foods’ you can eat that may help prevent cataracts are: kelp, legumes, oatmeal, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, nuts and seeds.
Though some researches produced conflicting reports, there are several studies showing that eating a healthy diet rich in antioxidants and certain vitamins is associated with a reduced risk of developing cataracts.
Those who are regularly following a healthy diet which includes vegetables, fruits, and whole grains may show a reduced risk of cataracts.
Antioxidant vitamins and phytochemicals which are found in vegetables and fruits that helps reduce the risk of cataracts include Vitamins A, C, and E, lutein and zeaxanthin.
The consumption of fish, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids has also been linked to the reduction of the risk of developing cataracts, or of their progression.
Colorful fruits and dark green vegetables are good sources of eye-friendly antioxidants. They also contain calcium and folic acid which are important nutrients that may help reduce the risk of cataracts.
To further decrease the risk of developing cataracts, it is important to avoid fried foods, sugary snacks, processed foods, and soft drinks which incidentally are associated with obesity and other health problems.
You should also reduce your intake of sodium as researchers have found that high salt intake may increase the risk of developing cataracts.
If you already have signs of cataracts, it is important that you quit smoking, that is, if you are smoking. There are substances in tobacco that can hasten the formation of cataracts
Vitamin C can be found in most fruits and vegetables, such as oranges, grapefruit, papaya, green peppers, strawberries, cantaloupe, and tomatoes. Fresh fruit juices contain high amounts of Vitamin C.
Vitamin E is difficult to obtain from food sources alone because very small quantities are found in food. Good food sources include vegetable oils (safflower oil, corn oil), almonds, wheat germ, pecans, peanuts, peanut butter, and sunflower seeds.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are important nutrients in the fight against cataracts. Lutein and zeaxanthin are associated primarily with eye health.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin can be found together in food sources. The primary sources of lutein and zeaxanthin are dark green leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach, Collard greens, turnip greens, and romaine lettuce, but there are lesser amount that can be found in colorful fruits and vegetables, such as broccoli, zucchini, green peas, yellow corn, orange peppers, tangerines, and persimmons.
To get the maximum benefits of lutein and zeaxanthin from these foods, you have to consume them raw as much as possible. Lutein and zeaxanthin may be damaged by heat.
That is why juicing fruits and vegetables is a good option especially if you can’t eat a lot of them every day.
You can include vegetables and fruits whch are high in antioxidants and flavonoids in your juice recipes.
Plant foods that are in deep yellow-orange-red colors contain phytonutrients which can be good for your eyes.
Here are some suggested juicing combos that you can try to prevent or decrease the risk of cataract formation:
- 2 green apples
- 2 red/yellow/orange/capsicum
- 8-10 stalks of asparagus
- Slice of lemon
Asparagus helps increase the levels of glutathione, a very important antioxidant produced by the body. It prevents cellular damage caused by free radicals.
- 2 green apples
- A bunch of spinach
- 3-4 leaves of kale
- ¼ pineapple
- Slice of lemon
- 1 inch ginger root
- 5 carrots
- 2 green apples
Carrots are rich in beta-carotene which helps protect your eyes and reduces the risk of developing cataracts.
- 2 carrots
- 1 med-sized sweet potato
- 6-8 stalks of asparagus
- A cup of broccoli florets
- A slice of lemon
- 1 carrot
- 1 orange
- A green apple
- A tomato
- 1 pomegranate
- A cup of strawberries
- A cup of raspberries
- A cup of blueberries
- A handful of parsley
- A handful of spinach
- 2 carrots
- 1/4th inch piece of ginger
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
Run them through the juicer and mix well.
- Parsley and spinach are rich sources of beta carotene, which protects the lenses of the eyes from light- induced damage.
- Garlic is a good source of vitamin B, which is essential in intra-cellular eye metabolism.
- Spinach contains vitamin B2 and E, known to act against cataract and protect eyes from the damage caused by free radicals, respectively.
- Spinach and carrots are good sources of manganese which arrests cataract growth while parsley with vitamin C, stops its progression.
- Garlic, with selenium in it, helps in preventing damage caused by free radicals. Carrot and garlic are sources of copper which aids in stopping and reversing cataract growth.
- Parsley, garlic and carrots contain zinc which helps in warding off the onset of cataract.
More Nutritional Tips:
- Take plenty of legumes like beans, lentils and split peas.
- Eat a substantial quantity of green, red and yellow vegetables and fruits that are rich in vitamin C and beta- carotene.
- Also supplement your diet with nuts, whole grains and wheat-germs, which are good sources of vitamin E.
Have fun juicing!