Foods that can hinder or help Glaucoma

Dr. Marc Grossman and Michael Edson have written a great easy-to-read book on Glaucoma. this helps clarify what causes it, what eye drops do and how to control it naturally. A very interesting chapter is how food can affect the eye pressure which is a marker for Glaucoma. This is an excerpt from their book, Natural Eye Care Series: Glaucoma  click the title to get more info.

Foods Known to Decrease IOP  (A good thing). Studies have shown that there are natural ways to reduce intra-ocular pressure naturally including the following: eating a healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables. People with glaucoma can reduce their eye pressure by five to seven millimeters of mercury (mm/Hg) with an improved diet and supplement program—a reduction that is as good as, or better than, achieved with drugs. In general, a diet high in beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium is recommended. Foods containing those nutrients include garlic, onions, beans, spinach, celery, turnips, yellow and orange vegetables, green leafy vegetables, seaweed, apples, oranges, and tomatoes.

In addition, drinking lots of water helps maintain the flow of nutrients to the eye and drains metabolic wastes and toxins from eye tissues. Optimally, you should drink 16 four-ounce glasses of water per day, every half-hour. Our bloodstream can only handle being diluted by about four ounces at any one time. When you drink more than four ounces at a time, this means more work for the kidneys to filter water that hasn’t had a chance to travel through the lymph system and clean body tissues.

Avoid carbonated, caffeinated, and alcoholic beverages since they can actually dehydrate eye tissues. Your optimal water intake depends upon your particular physiology, diet, climate, and physical activity. Too much water intake can reduce blood salt levels (hyponatremia) and cause cells to flood. Adequate water intake helps maintain the flow of nutrients to the lens and release wastes and toxins from tissues.[x] Spring water without chlorine or fluoride is the best. Drinking filtered water may remove needed minerals. Adding back a full complement of electrolytes will help prevent mineral deficiency that exacerbates dehydration.

A good way to gauge if you are properly hydrated is by the color of your urine. If it is dark yellow, then you are dehydrated and need to drink more water. If your urine is as clear as water, then you have over-hydrated and should cut back intake. Green tea is very beneficial for your health and body but drinking too much can be dehydrating.

FOODS THAT CAN INCREASE IOP (a bad thing): Coffee. Drinking just 1 cup of coffee can increase IOP by 1-4mm Hg for at least 90 minutes.Regular coffee drinkers have a higher average IOP (approximately 3mm Hg).However, coffee beans also contain antioxidant com-pounds. These antioxidative effects and their possible neuro-protective implications need further research. One study concluded that oxidative stress can be a causative factor in glaucoma, and targeted nutrients can reduce oxidative stress at the level of mito-chondria. This can be achieved by supplementing with ginkgo biloba and liquids that contain polyphenolic compounds (such as tea, red wine, dark chocolate, or coffee), which all have anti-oxidative properties.

Glutamate. Evidence also exists that glutamate contributes to glaucoma, so it is best to avoid any foods with monosodium glutamate (MSG). Glutamate that is not biochemically bound to other amino acids, causes our inherent glutamate levels to increase rapidly. These “free” forms of glutamate are found in nearly all processed or packaged foods. Genetic predisposition to glutamate sensitivity is being investigated. Glutamate naturally found in some food is linked to amino acids and is slowly processed by the digestive system. Free gluta-mate passes through the digestive system rapidly and is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. In some foods, such as aged or cured cheese or meats, soy sauce, mushrooms, tomatoes, broccoli, peas, walnuts, and gluten, glutamate exists in a free form. Glutamate is an essential nutrient for proper brain functioning, but excess glutamate results in “excitotoxicity” causing nerve cell death. Normally the brain is protected by the blood-brain barrier, but such protection can break down in cases such as head injury, stroke, or high blood pressure and as a by-product of aging. If the blood-brain barrier is compromised, then excess glutamate in the brain and nerve cell death can be the result.[vi]

Artificial sweeteners. Avoid artificial sweeteners as studies indicate possible neurotoxicity. Research has shown the intake of artificial sweeteners such as aspartame metabolizes into phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol. An increase in phenylalanine and aspartic acid interferes with the transport of serotonin and dopamine to the brain, increases neuronal hyperexcitability, and leads to degeneration in astrocytes and neurons. 

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