Eye Health and Nutrition – Help for Dry Eye
Now that you’ve loaded up on the sweets from Halloween, take advantage of another seasonal favorite that is plentiful this time of the year AND will be beneficial to your eye health. We’re talking pumpkins! Turn those painted jack-o-lanterns into a delicious treat for your eyes. (See the recipe below.)
Did you know? Pumpkins are full of dietary fiber and pre-vitamin A as Beta Carotene.
Most people know that Beta Carotene is a good source of nutrition for your eyes. Why else would your mother insist on you eating your carrots?! At Vision Health Institute we are often asked about other nutritional food sources and supplements, which can assist in better eye health. With annual eye exams we can help guide you through a lifetime of good eye health.
Dry Eye: Nutrition and Inflammation
A healthy tear film has three layers: an inner mucous layer, a middle aqueous layer, and an outer lipid layer. All three layers are important in maintaining clear, comfortable eyes and vision. Disruption of any of these components can lead to inflammation of the ocular surface, which is the hallmark of Dry Eye Disease (DED). While there are many root causes of DED, aqueous tear deficiency or excessive tear evaporation, is the most common cause of DED. Medical and nutritional therapies for DED are often directed at relieving the inflammation and DED symptoms.
Vitamin A Family (Retinoids and Carotenoids): Vitamin A is essential for maintaining the well being of corneal epithelial cells. Dietary deficiency of vitamin A can lead to keratinization of ocular surfaces, keratomalacia and night blindness. The retinoids are found in animal food sources such as whole milk Greek yogurt, liver and parmesan cheese. The carotenoid beta carotene is found in plant food sources such as pumpkin, sweet potato and spinach. Vitamin A retinol is a main component of the retinal visual pigments needed for night vision, and it is also found in human tears.
Good nutrition is especially valuable for people suffering from Dry Eye Disease.
Dry Eye Nutritional Support
Green Tea: Anti-inflammatory ECGC (read more below)
Whole Milk Greek Yogurt: Vitamin A as retinol, protein
Pumpkin: Dietary fiber, pre-vitamin A as beta carotene
Chia Seeds: Omega-3 fatty acid, omega-6 fatty acid, dietary fiber, protein
Coconut Milk: Medium-chain triglyceride lauric acid
Cinnamon: Manganese, dietary fiber, slows the rate at which the stomach empties, reducing the rise in blood sugar
Ginger: Anti-inflammatory gingerol
Now that you know a few food items that are good for your eyes, how do you incorporate them into your diet? Following is a great recipe, which uses the ingredients mentioned above. This recipe is provided by www.visionarykitchen.com. Be sure to visit their site for your great sight!
Go ahead and carve open those pumpkins (or go the easy route and buy the canned pumpkin at the grocers) and fix up a healthy treat for your eyes! If you live in the Orlando area and suffer from Dry Eye Disease, or have other eye concerns, schedule an appointment at VHI as soon as possible. Do not suffer another day!
Chia Pumpkin Pie Pudding
Chia Pumpkin Pie Pudding is a wonderfully easy breakfast for the whole family. The recipe doubles very well and can be refrigerated for 3 days. Consider serving as a dessert with coconut whipped cream.
Makes 4 servings
- 3/4 cup boiling water
- 3 green tea bags
- 1 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree, canned
- 1/3 cup chia seeds
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- Steep tea for 10 minutes. Gently squeeze tea bags and discard. Set tea aside.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the rest of the ingredients.
- Stir in the tea.
- Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.
- Whisk before serving.
Nutrition Facts per serving
Calories: 235 kcal; Protein: 9.4 gm; fat: 10 gm; Carbohydrate: 24.3 gm; Dietary fiber: 9 gm
Additional Eye Sight Nutrition Information
Green Tea: Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), the major polyphenol in green tea, has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects on corneal epithelium. One bag of green tea has 25 – 30mg of EGCG, an impressive concentration. Omega-3/Omega-6 Fatty Acids are essential polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). An imbalance of these important fatty acids increases the incidence of dry eye. The best sources of the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) come from fatty cold water fish like salmon and cod. DHA/EPA omega-3 supplementation has been shown to improve symptoms of dry eye. In the western diet, the omega-6 fatty acid Linoleic Acid (LA) is consumed mostly from corn oil. The best source of omega-6 to support dry eyes comes from Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA), found in black currant seed oil and evening primrose oil.
Sea Buckthorn: This small round, yellow berry which grows in clusters on thorny bushes in harsh seaside climates, is exceptionally high in vitamin C, E, carotenoids and omega–3/6/7/9 fatty acids. Sea Buckthorn’s impressive nutritional profile has been shown to promote healthy skin, hair and nails. In a Finnish study, dry eye subjects were given 2 gm of oral sea buckthorn oil. Subjects had positive effects on tear osmolarity as well as reduced symptoms of redness and burning. Please note that sea buckthorn is not the same species as “buckthorn.” Sea buckthorn can be purchased as a juice from health food stores. It receives low marks from most taste-testers!! The best description is tart and oily with smoky citrus overtones. Suggested uses include combining one or two teaspoons of sea buckthorn juice with a spicy vegetable juice or guacamole, or substituting one tablespoon of sea buckthorn juice for one tablespoon water in your favorite quinoa recipe.