Eye Foods Series Part 1: My honest response when patients ask which foods are best for their eyes?
Updated: Nov 6, 2021
Now more than ever, patients are seeking nutrition advice from their primary eye care providers in order to prevent or slow progression of eye diseases, like dry eye, cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
And I often get asked this question from patients, "what foods should I eat to keep my eyes healthy?"
My response to this question has 2-parts:
Consume foods that are rich in these key nutrients: vitamins A, C, E, Omega-3 fatty acids and the omega-6 GLA, the carotenoids beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, zinc, selenium and anthocyanins. These are crucial for optimal eye function and I dive deeper on that topic in Part 2 of my Eye Foods series here.
Also be sure to incorporate non-conventional superfoods that are known to specifically support digestive health and neurological function which I mention below as well.
I break down examples of foods rich in the above listed nutrients with some common themes in this post:
Eat the rainbow.
When building your plate, aim to get as many colors on there as possible. (This is always a fun exercise for kids too!)
Consume adequate healthy proteins and fats with clean carbohydrates.
Some nutrients become more bioavailable when eaten together vs. alone, like the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E + K.
Remember the 80/20 Rule:
80% of what you eat should come from nourishing, whole foods while the other 20% can be from those not-so-good foods that may fill your soul (or cravings) instead ;)
Be sure to include, but do not limit the following foods:
dark leafy greens like kale + spinach
lots of berries, (particularly blueberries, mulberries, bilberries + goji berries)
deep orange pigmented fruits and veggies, like carrots, mangoes, orange bell peppers + sweet potatoes
free-range, organic eggs + chicken
healthy fats, like avocados, extra virgin olive oil, + coconut-based products
100% grass-fed beef and game
cold-water, wild caught fish, like herring, mackerel + salmon
seaweed + micro algae
oysters and seafood
plenty of herbs and spices, pink himalayan salt
garlic and onions
beans + legumes (soaked and sprouted is best)
nuts + seeds (soaked if possible)
whole grains (avoiding gluten where necessary)
pure water (half your body weight in ounces per day, plus the equivalent in fluids lost and caffeinated beverages)
These foods lay a solid foundation for any healthy eye plan because of their abilities to counteract oxidative stress caused by free radicals, one of the main culprits of disease.
There are, however, some key, nonconventional foods that get overlooked and it would be remiss of me to omit them in any healthy diet plan. To see which ones these are, check out Post 3 in this series, Top 10 Super-Eye-Foods You are Likely Missing from your Diet.
So there you have it. My typical response when patients ask me for advice on their nutritional needs as it relates to their eye health is not as clear cut, but I think it offers more than just eating purely for nutritional content and addresses eye health from a holistic standpoint.
Remember, our bodies have the potential when given the right foods and conditions to heal themselves - including the eyes!