Modern life has many of us concentrating on various types of electronic screens for large parts of the day. This is a very recent development in human history and there is ample evidence that our eyes are having difficulty adapting to the daily demands we put them under.
Eyestrain, dry and irritated eyes, difficulty making out fine detail and deteriorating vision are all common eyesight problems that are on the increase in recent decades.
While taking regular breaks from computer monitors and reducing the amount of time we spend staring at the illuminated screens is important, diet, and in particular juicing, may be able to help heal your eyes.
Let's look at how regular juicing can play a part in improving your eyesight naturally and the best types of fruits and vegetables to juice for better vision. Also ahead is a potent juicing recipe designed to give your eyes what they need to perform at their best.
The Importance of Xanthophylls
Juicing fresh fruit and vegetables provides a wealth of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants for better eyesight. Pro-vitamin A carotenoids like alpha and beta-carotene are very important for your eyes, as is antioxidant vitamin C and minerals like zinc.
While deficiencies in these nutrients do happen, and many of us could use more of them for optimal eye health, a far more likely issue with vision problems is a lack of xanthophylls.
Xanthophylls are class of carotenoid antioxidants, most commonly found in fruits and vegetables with yellow, orange and red colors, or in leafy greens where the green chlorophyll dominates. Lutein and zeaxanthin are the best known xanthophylls and the most important for your eyes.
Zeaxanthin and lutein are highly concentrated in the macula area of your eye that is responsible for perceiving fine details on a page or screen. They actually give your macula its distinctive yellow color and are vital for protecting it from UV and high-intensity blue light.
Blue light is a difficult band of the color spectrum for your eyes to deal with and regular overexposure is often associated with serious eye conditions like cataracts and age-related macula degeneration (ARMD).
Studies suggest that a diet high in lutein and zeaxanthin can reduce your risk of developing ARMD. Given that this eye disease is the biggest cause of blindness in elderly people in the USA and is expected to affect around 3 million Americans by 2020, these antioxidants are worth getting more of if you value your vision as you get older.
Even for people already with macular degeneration, increasing xanthophyll intake may help repair the damage. This research found that supplementing with lutein led to measurable improvements in vision and macula pigment density. The scientists
said, 'lutein may play an important role in eye health as a useful bioactive agent in reducing the risk of ARMD'.
Another study found that lutein supplementation for people who worked in front of computer screens all day improves visual function, contrast sensitivity and 'lutein may have beneficial effects on the visual performance'. Lutein and zeaxanthin are also believed to help protect your eyes from other eye diseases like cataracts and glaucoma as well.*highlight*)
So how do you increase your intake of lutein and the even harder to get zeaxanthin? If you're already noticing eye problems like regular eyestrain and difficulty concentrating on the screen, a high zeaxanthin and lutein supplement derived from natural sources like marigolds can often help.
From a dietary perspective there are certain fruits and vegetables that contain lutein and zeaxanthin and are very beneficial to juice if you value your vision. Here's five of the best.
5 High Lutein and Zeaxanthin Fruits and Vegetables for Juicing
Dark green leafy vegetables are often considered a good source of lutein and kale is one of the most concentrated. Extremely high in vitamins, minerals and many other antioxidants to protect your eyes from free radical damage, raw kale is an excellent vegetable to juice for better vision and better health in general.
2. Orange Bell Peppers
These might seem like an unusual vegetable to juice, but they're actually quite tasty. Bell peppers, and particularly the orange colored ones, are a great source of zeaxanthin for juicing. Red and yellow peppers should also be good if you can't find orange, but green bell peppers aren’t considered useful for xanthophylls.
The stalks and particularly the leaves of celery are a good source of lutein for your eyes. Celery's cleansing and detoxifying properties also benefit your kidneys. Kidney health is closely related to eye health in Chinese traditional medicine so definitely worth including in your juice.
4. Beets with the Beet Greens
Deep red beet juice is full of nutrients that benefit your liver, another vital organ associated with eye health. Many important bodily function suffer when your liver is under strain so beets are a great vegetable to add to many different juicing recipes.
Interestingly, beet greens and stalks are considered an excellent source of lutein and zeaxanthin so are well worth including in juices for improving your vision.
Recent testing has shown kiwifruit to be surprisingly high in lutein for better eyes. Given that they are also a great source of vitamin C which is needed for protecting your vision, kiwifruit is definitely deserves its place in the recipe ahead. It helps that kiwi juice tastes great as well.