Friday Four: How Sharp are your Eyes?

This week I am going to pass on a few tips on how you can delay what some say is an inevitable degeneration of our eyesight as we age. Unlike many vital organs which keep us thriving and are well hidden and protected by layers of tissue and fat, our eyes are continually exposed to potential damage.

“Eat up your carrots, they will help you see in the dark.”

Great granny wasn’t far wrong when she said “eat up your carrots, they will help you see in the dark”! Carrots and all dark yellow and orange fruits and vegetables are rich in beta carotene which the body converts into vitamin A which is essential for eye health. As well as including lots of these yellow and orange wonders into your diet wherever possible, try my delicious Beta Carotene Cocktail.

Beta Carotene Cocktail

Blitz the following in a food processor or liquidiser until smooth and add fresh, bottled carrot juice until you get a consistency you like:

  • 3 ice cubescocktail
  • a chopped, de-seeded yellow or orange pepper
  • an orange, peeled and chopped
  • the flesh and seeds of half a small cantaloupe melon
  • 4 apricots, cleaned, stoned and chopped
  • 4 cos/romaine lettuce leaves
  • fresh, bottled carrot juice

Drink immediately or flask and sip throughout the day sprinkled with some powdered cinnamon or nutmeg.

pumpkin-seedsZinc, an essential trace mineral which is found in high concentration in the eyes helps protect them from the damaging effects of light. Pasture (or grass) fed beef is an excellent source of zinc and whilst it is more expensive than beef from grain fed animals, if you are a meat eater, it is well worth the investment when you can afford it as the taste alone makes it a treat worth saving for. Oysters are famed for their aphrodisiac effect and with good reason – zinc is not just good for the eyes, it also heightens sexual arousal but fret not, if you find these slippery shellfish a bit hard to swallow, you can also get plenty of zinc from pumpkin seeds which make a great snack, can be thrown onto all sorts of dishes and if you have never tried pumpkin seed butter, now is the time. It looks a bit gruesomely green but it is one of those one spoonful is never enough experiences!
Biona do a great one which is widely available in health shops.

sunlightSunlight on our skin promotes the production of vitamin D and it is now known that many of us are deficient in this health-enhancing nutrient. Sunlight, when absorbed through the eye also encourages the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls our sleep/wake cycle and allows us to benefit from a good and restorative night’s sleep but direct sunlight also damages our eyes when we don’t protect them. So what is the answer? Wear a hat which shades your eyes but don’t bother with the sunglasses for an hour or two on a bright sunny day to get the benefits then remove the hat and get the sunglasses on to promote the production of vitamin D and avoid eye damage.

prawnsAnother nutrient that’s excellent for eye protection and reduces the harm caused by excessive ultraviolet radiation is astaxanthin which also works as an internal sunscreen by boosting the skin’s tolerance. Salmon and shellfish that go pink when cooked are rich in this super antioxidant but you may also wish to consider adding spirulina to your diet as it is a rich source as well as offering a host of other essential vitamins and minerals.