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Phytonutrients for Cataracts

Though most conventional physicians attribute cataracts to general aging, we believe that a cataract is often a symptom of an underlying condition due to a metabolic imbalance. It signals that the natural processes of your body are breaking down on some level, and that the normal flow of nutrients into the eyes, and waste products out of the eyes, has been compromised. Because cataracts typically progress slowly over many years there is often time for preventive measures to work quite successfully such as ingesting food with specific nutrients.

The group of nutrients known as antioxidants includes three types: phytonutrients, vitamin/vitamin-like nutrients and enzymes. You will note a common thread among many of these natural nutrients: they protect our eyes against UV radiation, blue light, and oxidative stress. In addition, research has shown that there are other nutrients that are important for vision health: amino acids, minerals, and herbs. We will address the phytonutrients here.

Phytonutrients are a group of nutrients coming from plant pigments. They are divided into groups based on their chemical composition, which is related to their color, making them most easily identified by color group: yellow, red, orange, purple, or blue. As a group, the phytonutrients act as solar radiation filters to help protect plant cells. Plants also use phytonutrients to absorb light and convert that light to energy.

Carotenoids are an important kind of phytonutrient with special importance given to the vision carotenoids: lutein, astaxanthin, zeaxanthin, mesozeaxanthin, and lycopene. Their function in the plant world includes coloring, fragrance to attract pollinators, and also to protect against   oxidative stress and UV radiation.

Bioflavonoids fulfill many functions that include plant coloring to attract pollinators, engaging in symbiotic relationships with other plant forms, providing UV protection, and protecting against disease. They include anthocyanins such as bilberry and other sub-groupings.

Polyphenols are complex plant chemicals with functions that include growth processes, hormonal adjustments, and protection, such as from UV light and microbes. Tannins found in wood are an example.

-excerpted from the book Natural Eye Care Series: Cataracts  click here