Wellness Blog

In Plain Sight: Countering Free Radicals & Oxidation in Macular Degeneration

Posted by Ian D. Ravensdale

July 4, 2017 at 10:55 AM

The majority of us will have all 5 of the senses at our disposal, and value each of them considerably. If there’s one of the 5 that most would deem absolutely indispensable,  it would be their sight. Responding to visual stimuli makes up a big part of the entirety of our human experience, and to lose that sense would be far more crushing than becoming deaf, for instance. Both would significantly troubling, and perhaps you’d feel differently, but we figure most would take their eyes over their ears if they had to choose.

You’re not going to have 20 20 vision forever, but surely we can agree that preserving your vision as you age is important. Free radicals and oxidative stress are one of the primary causes of macular degeneration. That’s a term used to describe the condition where the central area of your retina – the macula – deteriorates and causes you to lose the ability to see with sufficient visual acuity. Of course, it’s but one area of hundreds across the human body that are susceptible to this type of damage. Free radicals are constantly forming in the body and are the normal byproduct of aging and environmental exposure. Oxidation is a chemical reaction where the body is left to deal with thousands of unstable electrons that can cause damage to our cells.

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One of the unfortunate realities is that we cannot prevent free radical damage via cell oxidation, and that’s as true as ever given the increasingly toxic world we live in, and the way we choose to live in it. Ophthalmologists cite eating habits, food production methods as coming in as one and two behind the far-and-away primary culprit – more than half a century of excessive industrial pollution.

We can take measures to limit it, however, and in the interest of maintaining healthy vision (and overall health really) it’s something we should do. That’s especially true when you consider that nearly every one of the risk factors for macular degeneration is linked to free radicals. And that’s even more significant when you understand that your macula in each eye is especially susceptible to oxidative stress because it takes in high levels of oxygen in its function. This leads to the production of similarly high levels of free radicals in that area of the eye.

Then add all of the pesticides, smoke, chemical food additives, car exhaust, and household cleaners, UVA / UVA rays etc. etc. that we are exposed to, and you’ve got an unfortunate mix of propensity and contributing factors that are very favourable for the development of macular degeneration.

So, what can we do to defend ourselves against either losing our vision, or having the quality of it lessened?

Eating Right, For Starters

A healthy diet is beneficial across the entire spectrum of body processes. As it relates here in preventing macular degeneration via oxidative processes and free radicals, however, eating a diet high in antioxidants is very beneficial, of course. Antioxidants scavenge free radicals from body cells, and the way they prevent or reduce the damage caused by oxidation is downright impressive. Two particular antioxidant that are especially effective for limiting free radical damage to the macula are lutein and zeaxanthin, and they’re primary ingredients found in Sisu Vision Complex. Supplements like these are an excellent choice as a dietary supplement for anyone who is beginning to suffer from vision impairment or – more ideally – employed in a preventative role for anyone who has a defined susceptibility to vision degeneration.

Smart food choices? Consider these:

  • Corn, egg yolks and leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard for zeaxanthin and lutein (cooked spinach and kale are #1)
  • Seafood, lean meat, milk, and nuts for copper, zinc, and manganese
  • Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower for indoles
  • Tomatoes, pink grapefruit, and watermelon for lycopene
  • Seafood, offal (organ meats), lean meat, and whole grains for selenium
  • Oranges, blackcurrants, kiwi fruit, mangoes, broccoli, spinach, capsicum, and strawberries for Vitamin C
  • Eggplant, grapes, and berries for anthocyanins
  • Thyme and oregano as spices for polyphenols

High concentrations of polyunsaturated fatty acids can promote greater numbers of free radicals, and their intake should be minimized in your diet.

One last note on taking supplements for maintaining eyesight; certain studies have suggested that antioxidants are less effective when isolated from food and presented in tablet form. As an example, Vitamin A (beta-carotene) has been linked to a reduced risk of certain cancers being caused by oxidative stress on the body, but also linked to an increase in other ones like lung cancer in smokers when the Vitamin A source is purified from foodstuffs.

Antioxidant materials or vitamins can actually start acting as harmful ‘pro’-oxidants if they are consumed at levels significantly above the recommended dietary intakes. Accordingly, if you are going to take a supplement to maintain visual acuity then you should be certain it contains all its specific nutrients AT the levels of recommended dietary intakes. Sisu Bilberry Myrtilles is another all natural supplement that is effective for preventing macular degeneration and meets that standard, along with featuring pure, high-potency Bilberry extract that is the equivalent of 10 berries in each capsule to provide you with an increased intake of antioxidant bioflavonoids that help prevent all age-related eye damage.

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CoQ10: Top Complementary Supplementation Choice

Coenzyme Q10 is one of the most powerful compound antioxidants produced by the body, along with glutathione, and super oxide dismutase. CoQ10 is given the same priority in recommendations for preventing macular degeneration because there are certain limitations to natural antioxidants when applied for the reduction of damage via free radicals. In the interest of addressing it, antioxidants that target the mitochondrial aspect of oxidative stress damage (via ROS – reactive oxygen species) are equally highly recommended for protecting the quality of your vision.

Pairing a quality supplement like Sisu Coenzyme Q10 with the aforementioned products and / or a diet tailored to include the food / nutritional value choices listed above is a solid approach for anyone who’s in the early stages of macular degeneration and wish to counter it as effectively as possible. You’ll be targeting both ends of the oxidative free radical damage equation, and should see maximum benefits accordingly.

Lifestyle Choices

Exposure to natural sunlight is of great importance for your health, and the most optimal way to absorb Vitamin D from sunlight is through your eyes. As such, you’re entirely encouraged to get out there and soak up the rays on days they’re there to be had, but as it regards eye degeneration it’s important to remember that higher levels of sunlight exposure (and exposure to blue light from computers and other personal electronics) can alter the autofluorescence pattern and induce ROS development and the mitochondria damage in the eyes that comes along with it.

The solution is quite simple; protect your eyes by wearing a QUALITY pair of sunglasses that are certified 100% UVA / UVB resistant. Generally speaking – as is the case with nearly all consumer goods – an inexpensive pair of shades that claim to be 100% resistant likely are not. Buy a quality pair, you’ll be glad you did.

Other suggestions:

  • Don’t smoke – smokers are up to 4x more likely than non-smokers to have macular degeneration
  • Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight
  • Be mindful of your blood pressure and cholesterol levels - Cholesterol is a fatty substance that can build up in blood vessels, inhibiting blood flow necessary for maintaining health of eye tissues

Again – preventative approaches for health care are recommended here. Look out for your vision now with smart diet and lifestyle choices and you may have no need for supplementation and other more reactionary approaches in the future.

Taste buds and epidermal skin and olfactory nerves are less at risk of degeneration, so make the sharpness of the remaining of your 5 senses – sight and hearing – are at their best as you age.

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Topics: Vitamins and Minerals, Mind Body Spirit, supplementation, aging

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