Cutting Out Sugar May Save Your Vision
Research conducted at Tufts University has shown a low glycemic diet arrests age related macular degeneration. This is the most common cause of blindness in the USA in those over the age of 50. The National Eye Institute estimates the number of people with age related macular degeneration will double by 2050, going from 2.07 million to 5.44 million in the USA.
The study conducted at Tufts University was done on mice and published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers split 59 mice into two groups: 19 were put on a low glycemic diet and 40 were placed on a high glycemic diet. Their diets only differed in carbohydrate source. Carbs made up 45 percent of the diet for both groups. The mice remained on their diets for six months.
The researchers noticed that a high glycemic diet caused the development of several macular degeneration features such as loss of function of cells at the back of the eye (retinal pigmented epithelial atrophy) and of cells that capture light (photoreceptors). Both of those conditions are precursors to dry age related macular degeneration. Interestingly, switching from a high to a low glycemic diet arrested damage to the retina.
The lead author of the study made a very important comment: “We were genuinely surprised that the retinas from mice whose diets were switched from high- to low-glycemic index diets midway through the study were indistinguishable from those fed low-glycemic index diet throughout the study. We hadn’t anticipated that dietary change might repair the accumulated damage in the RPE so effectively. Our experimental results suggest that switching from a high-glycemic diet to a low-glycemic one is beneficial to eye health in people that are heading towards developing AMD”.
High glycemic index foods are those that get broken down into sugar very rapidly; examples include soda, cookies, crisps, most breakfast cereals and foods made from white flour or rice. Low glycemic index foods get broken down into sugar much more slowly. Any food that causes a rapid rise in your blood sugar can have harmful effects in your body. High blood sugar is very destructive; it can stick to various proteins in your body and damage them. Macular degeneration is incredibly common. When we think of sugar, most of us know it causes weight gain and raises the risk of type 2 diabetes. Now you know that sugar can also harm your eyes.