Statistically, half of you will experience one of the three most serious eye diseases, and here is probably the #1 way to protect yourself.
An increasing number of health professionals are pointing to proper fat intake as the primary dietary consideration in maintaining good eye health. Did you know that your eyes are organs of concentrated fat? What kind of fat? The primary structural fat is a fatty acid called DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
I have the dry eye syndrome that affects so many American adults. It’s no fun, and I visit my eye doctor religiously two or three times a year. With his help and a lot of my own reading, I have found that maintaining the proper balance of essential fatty acids-meaning the ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s-is important.
I’ve read a lot on this subject and written to you about the ratio in my strategy reports and at richardcyoung.com. One of my favorite books on the subject is The Omega Diet, by Artemis P. Simopoulos, MD, and Jo Robinson. I have spoken to Ms. Robinson as well as read her excellent books. In their book, the authors write, “You need to be eating the ratio of EFAs that sends cancer-fighting, heart-healthy [and, I add here, eye-healthy] messages to your genes. The ratio that sends those messages … is less than 4 to 1.” The authors go on to cite ratios as high as 20 to 1 as normal in the American fast-food-nation diet.
Along with a proper omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, I have found that antioxidants can play a significant part in eye health and overall health. Antioxidants fight against oxidation damage. For this reason, I take lutein daily. Lutein is one of the hundreds of known, naturally occurring carotenoids with antioxidant properties. Plants get their colors from carotenoids, which are simply organic pigments. Bright yellows and oranges, like those found in bell peppers, are great friends to the eyes, as are marigolds, kale, goji berries, grape seed extract, and all the colored fruit berries. To avoid a nasty glycemic rush, I stick with low-glycemic berries like blueberries and strawberries. Fortunately for me, I have a local organic whole foods café named Help Yourself three blocks from my Key West conch house. I’m there once or twice a day for all of the above sources of carotenoids.
On the omega-6/omega-3 (DHA) front, I have long believed in Ultimate Omega highly concentrated EPA and DHA soft gel capsules from Nordic Naturals. The capsules are easily found in natural foods stores. As a side note, The WSJ just ran an interesting omega-3 article titled Omega-3 Fatty Acids Are Linked to Longevity.
I stay out of chain supermarkets and stick to natural foods stores and specialty grocery stores (like my much-beloved Fausto’s in Key West and A-Market and The Green Grocer in Newport). I’m a regular at farmers’ markets and specialized organic raw food cafes.
In my upcoming health-related reports, I will be discussing my reading and in-depth personal experience with the many ins and outs of the terms “organic,” “free-range,” “natural,” and “grass-fed.” I’ll be talking about milk and eggs, beef and pork, chicken, and vegetables. I’ll give you a little tip-of-the-iceberg teaser here: the single most important words of guidance for eating healthy are none of the above. Rather, buy local from your farm or farmers’ market, or better yet, grow your own food!