Saturday, August 23, 2008

Jeepers Creepers - Refined Carbs Hurt Your Peepers

If you needed just one more reason to cut the sugar, white flour, and other highly processed grains from your diet – here’s one for ya.  Your Vision.


Turns out that if you cut out (or cut back) your consumption of processed carbohydrates, you can lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  AMD is a leading cause of blindness in people aged 60 and older.  Why is that, you may be wondering?  Well, the high glycemic index in refined carbs increases oxidative stress, inflammation, and blood-fat levels – all linked to AMD.


In addition to replacing those bad carbs with high-fiber whole grains, there are four specific nutrients that help reduce the risk of developing common eye problems by as much as 35 percent – Vitamin C, Vitamin E, beta carotene (Vitamin A), and zinc.

In a recent study of people aged 55 and over, those who reported the highest intake of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene, and zinc were significantly less likely to develop AMD than those who had the lowest intake. Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit, lemons and limes as well as mangoes and strawberries will pump up the vitamin C. Turkey, chicken, and fortified cereals are great sources for zinc. Raw almonds, peanuts, natural peanut butter, or a supplement, can help boost your intake of vitamin E.  And sweet potatoes, apricots, and peaches are all excellent sources of beta carotene.


Other carotenoids (nutrients like beta carotene) that appear to be beneficial for eye health are lutin and zeaxanthin.  You can find them in a variety of fruits and vegetables.  Spinach, peas, and green bell peppers are all good sources of lutein.  You get zeaxanthin from corn, spinach, orange bell peppers, and tangerines.



Anonymous said...

Hi Tony! I abandoned the refined sugar in my diet when I began the program 28 days ago and already dropped 18 pounds. Although some portion of that drop is the sweat equity of the workout I have to believe the second biggest factor is leaving sugar behind. Thanks for sharing the love!


Christopher said...

There is no doubt that sugar has a huge impact. I used to be a Mountain Dew junkie when I was at my worst weight (270). When I made my committment last year to lose it, the first thing I did was cut out soda. Without changing my diet yet, without exercising, I lost an incredible 11 pounds. Can you believe that?

I can't say that I'm a strict sugar outer right now, but I don't really eat things that contain alot of sugar. For example, I don't eat refined flour products. I eat multi-grain, or wheat breads. I've substituted meats for mostly chicken or turkey burgers. I do follow your maxim about 90% good foods, 10% bad for those times that there are get togethers, etc. Plus, my mom makes some awesome foods so you have to splurge for mom (RIGHT NICK?). Not that she makes me eat out of love but man, she makes some incredible cookies and when I do get to see her, she makes all my favorite stuff (pork steak chilito...mmmm.....with wheat tortillas).

She actually tried to make "Tony safe" foods for me but dude, it's just not the same, told her not to bother, I'm a fit guy so. Funny though, as I was growing up, we ate very, very healthy. We had fruits and veggies and all that. The good stuff she would make probably once every other week. She was very health conscious for us kids but I never really noticed till I got fat, and in this last year, I've been eating very much how my mother fed us.

Your article though is right on the ball, my family has a history of diabetes in old age and diabetes affects vision and can even cause loss of limbs. But man, it's probably all the damn soda my family drinks. It was pretty much the staple drink of the Ortega clan. My uncle likes to call the members of our family ticking time bombs. He had diabetes and had to lose 50lbs of weight himself and has a strict diet.

My father on the other hand has resorted to being a fat guy. Of course he's seen my P90X/One on One transformation and I told him that he really needs to get on the ball. But what can you do? You gotta admit dude, for all the people that are out there getting into fitness, getting transformed. There are a hell of alot of people that just don't care about their health enough to do anything about it. Nick and I have been e-mailing about that same thing. I stopped teaching martial arts a long time ago because nobody ever stuck with it. Then I became one of those people myself. Good lord, what this society does to you.....bah, it's not society, it was me. I let it happen, it was my responsibility to stay in shape and I failed myself.

Alright, I'm babbling but the point is, is that I guess we just have to persevere on and be the soldiers of health huh?

Rock on,

Christopher Ortega (menelaus)

nick c. said...

Hey Tony,

Once again, a very, very good point that is absolutely not discussed enough at all. This really hits home for me, because my dad is a noted ophthalmologist in southeastern PA (about an hour up the road from QVC!). I grew up in Pennsylvania Dutch/Amish country, where, may I say, the daily fare is not up there on Michi's Ladder, if you know what I mean-:) Lots and lots of pastries, potatoes, fried foods in butter, and pork. Very little fruits and vegetables. Anyway, to make a long story short, my dad and I would sometimes discuss his workday--what kind of patients, what kind of illnesses, etc. One illness that always stood out in my mind was this AMD, basically because once it takes hold, there ain't a lot anybody can do to stop its progress. It's a real downhill battle. Well, I remember him telling me that some of the common characteristics many of these AMD patients had were obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, inflammation and diabetes. Now, I'm not a doctor, but I'll bet the ranch that a high proportion of these patients had a history of eating a lot of shoo-fly pie, funnel cake, pickled pork, Hershey's ice cream, and the like-;)

We tend to always look at the heart and other major organs as related to unhealthy lifestyles, but who ever really thinks of the eyes? Yes, those tiny little capillaries and sensitive structures in back of the eye are just as affected as major blood vessels, sometimes more so.

Let's go green, people! And Christopher, I know you're setting a good example for the Ortega family, brutha! Never give up!

Thanks again, Tony!


Colleen Hammond said...

Great info, Tony!

I'll give you another one--three months ago I was diagnosed with a systemic fungal infection (in other words, the inside of my body is like a bachelor's fridge--all moldy!). The doc said that 80% of women have it and it goes undiagnosed. Cure? Cut out refined sugars and carbs.

BONUS: I ditched 30 pounds in the first few weeks I started 'eating clean'.



Rae said...

Love the blog, appreciate all the insights that your experience brings. I think what blindsides people, and it initially blindsided me, is that going from sedentary (or in my case working 80+ hrs/week to making time to work out) to active is a complete change in lifestyle. You'd think that would be obvious, but on the other side of the fence, it isn't. So the insights about the psychological impacts, the food recipes (yum!), help me tremendously in adjusting to a much more active lifestyle. Plan on keeping it that way.

So, to add to the chorus of how refined sugars/carbs are "of the devil" (as my Southern Baptist mother would say), I gave up a music career due to severe arthritis in my hands, never realizing that diet could help with that. I refused the meds that treat arthritis (at 17 I didn't plan on taking the chemo-in-a-bottle that is methotrexate), so I gave it all up and now run a desk for a living.

Fast forward a few years *ahem*, and there I was falling victim to the Informercial That Is P90X *laughs*. Read the diet guide, started following it, realizing that there wasn't much in the way of refined sugar and carbs on the menu, dagnabbit! But after a few months, my hands are virtually pain free and I can play guitar again. I cannot tell you how much that means to me.

So not *only* do I feel great physically/emotionally and tougher overall mentally, but I can pick up my gee-tar and rip out a few jams for the first time in over a dozen years. WOOO HOOO!! said...

No doubt, the writer is completely right.

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