So, you are hit by a post-lunch sugar craving. Which of these are you more likely to choose? …Be honest.
If you chose the orange slices, you could safely skip this post. But if rich cakes and cream buns are your go-to comfort foods, here is an eye-opener:
Your choice of desserts and other high-sugar foods can hurt the health of your eyes, especially later in life, suggests a study by researchers at Tufts University.
Led by Allen Taylor, director of the Laboratory for Nutrition and Vision Research at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts, the study establishes a clear link between high blood sugar and vision loss.
Nearly 4,100 U.S. adults aged 55-80 took completed dietary surveys that listed 90 foods. Researchers asked participants how often they ate these foods, and in what portion sizes.
The foods listed were picked according to their glycemic index—that is, their tendency to increase blood sugar levels. Those who consumed more high-glycemic-index foods were more likely to have advanced age-related macular generation (AMD) in at least one eye.
The researchers estimated that a fifth of the advanced AMD cases in their study might have been prevented by eating foods low on the glycemic index. ”Sugar [in carbohydrates] is fuel for the cells, but too much is destructive,” says Taylor. His advice: Choose carbohydrates that do not cause a quick spike in blood sugar, such as whole wheat breads, beans and oats.
The connection between high-sugar foods and eye disease lies in body chemistry. When you consume high amounts of carbs and/or sugars, the body releases too much insulin. This causes inflammation in the blood vessels, including those in the eyes. This makes you more vulnerable to AMD, the leading vision problem in America.
AMD is a condition in which the macula, a small spot near the center of the retina, is damaged. As a result, your vision becomes blurred and dull, making you unable to see objects straight ahead.
While AMD itself does not lead to blindness, it affects simple everyday activities, such as the ability to see faces, drive, read, write, or do close work, such as cooking or fixing things around the house, say experts at the National Eye Institute.
Yes, AMD does occur most commonly in people above 50, but foods that cause a rapid spike in blood sugar can hasten its advent.
On the other hand, consumption of fruits and vegetables containing red, yellow and orange phytochemicals may be linked to a reduced risk for age-related macular degeneration, says D. Max Snodderly, Ph.D., head of the laboratory at The Schepens Eye Research Institute in Boston, Massachusetts, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School.
So, eat your oranges, apples, carrots, and beans to keep your eyes bright and healthy late into life.