NMU 96 –An Orange a Day Linked to Reduced Risk of Macular Degeneration – The leading cause of blindness after age 55
Nutrition / Natural Medicine Update No 96 (July 18, 2018)
with Dr. James Meschino
Topic: An Orange a Day Linked to Reduced Risk of Macular Degeneration – The leading cause of blindness after age 55
Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (July 2018)
A 2018 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has shown that people who regularly eat oranges are less likely to develop macular degeneration than people who do not eat oranges. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 55. There is no cure for macular degeneration, and thus, finding ways to prevent it is a major priority within the eye disease research community.
In this study, researchers interviewed more than 2,000 Australian adults who were over 50 years of age and followed them over a 15-year period. The results showed that people who ate at least one serving of oranges every day had more than a 60% reduced risk of developing advanced macular degeneration 15 years later. As one researcher pointed out, even eating an orange once a week seemed to offer significant benefits.
Evidence suggests very strongly that diet and lifestyle factors play a significant role in the prevention of this condition, as well as influencing its speed of progression. Diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking are major risk factors for the development of macular degeneration as we age. As such, remaining lean, exercising, eating a diet to keep cholesterol down, and not smoking, greatly reduces your risk of this important eye disease.
But macular degeneration can also be caused by free radical damage to the back of the eye from exposure to ultra-violet from the sun (or tanning beds). For this reason, researchers have been looking into the role of antioxidants, as nutritional factors that may also prevent or slow the progression of macular degeneration. A large study conducted by the National Eye Institute in recent years showed that supplementation with specific doses of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and zinc halted or slowed the progression of macular degeneration. Other studies have shown the value of supplementation with other important eye carotenoids, including lutein and zeaxanthin in slowing the progression of macular degeneration. All these nutrients are important eye antioxidants, which quench and neutralize free radicals in the back of the eye, and in some cases the lens of the eye, possibly helping to prevent cataract development as well.
The 2018 study was focused on the consumption of flavonoids, as certain flavonoids also accumulate in the region of the retina and act as antioxidants in this part of the eye. The study assessed the intake of common foods that contain flavonoids such as tea, apples, red wine and oranges. The results showed that only consumption of oranges showed a significant lowering of risk for macular degeneration. Once again, eating one or more oranges a day, on average, was associated with a 60% lower risk of developing macular degeneration over the 15-year study period, compared to those who did not eat oranges.
The take-home message is that for eye health, the consumption of at least one orange a day maybe another more important nutrition and lifestyle strategy to help prevent macular degeneration- the leading cause of blindness as we age.
I have included the scientific references for this information in the text below.
1.2018 Study – Bamini Gopinath Gerald Liew Annette Kifley Victoria M Flood Nichole Joachim Joshua R Lewis Jonathan M Hodgson Paul Mitchell. Dietary flavonoids and the prevalence and 15-y incidence of age-related macular degeneration. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2018 https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/ajcn/nqy114/5049680
2. 2018 Study Summary https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180712100504.htm
AREDS Study- National Eye Institute – https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article-abstract/108/2/381/5049680 –
3. Macular Degeneration Risk Factors https://www.medicinenet.com/macular_degeneration/article.htm
4. UV-light and Macular Degeneration Risk from Free Radicals https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21646979
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