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This Diet May Ward Off Age-Related Eye Disease


A new study has found that a switch from a high-glycemic to a low-glycemic diet may stop, and even repair, age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This means that eating whole grains instead of white bread can help make a substantial difference in eye health.

A high-glycemic diet releases sugar into the blood stream rapidly, which harms the eyes, along with many aspects of general health. In addition to white bread, this type of diet includes white rice and refined pastas, as well as cookies, cakes and crackers.

AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in adults over the age of 50. The early stages of the disease result in blurred vision, and the advanced stages produce diminished vision which is disabling. More than 2 million people in the U.S. have the affliction, and the incidence is expected to double by 2050, according to the National Eye Institute.

Switching to a Low-Glycemic Diet Helped Stop and Repair Retinal Damage

In the study, scientists randomly divided a group of 59 mice into two groups: 40 high-glycemic fed mice and 19 low-glycemic fed mice. After six months, some of the high-glycemic group remained on the diet, while others were switched to the low-glycemic diet.

Consumption of the high-glycemic diet was associated with the manifestation of many AMD characteristics, including the loss of functional cells in the retina. Conversely, these changes were not seen in the mice that were on the low-glycemic diet. Most remarkably, switching from a high-glycemic to a low-glycemic diet stopped the retinal damage.

“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 a low-glycemic index diet throughout the study,” said lead author Sheldon Rowan, Ph.D., scientist in the Laboratory for Nutrition and Vision Research at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. “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.”

Low-Glycemic Diet Limits Biomarkers of Aging

Another discovery of the effects of a low-glycemic diet revolved around biomarkers. The diet limited the accumulation of advanced glycation end products, which are biomarkers that play a role in aging and the development of AMD and other degenerative diseases.

In addition, the low-glycemic diet was tied to higher levels of two beneficial body compounds: C3-carnitine and serotonin. The former helps with fatty acid metabolism, while the latter, a hormone produced by gut microbes, is linked to improved retinal health. Moreover, the microbiome manufactured other metabolites that are protective against AMD, which led the authors to speculate that a gut-retina connection exists, which would make eye health dependent upon diet.

The findings are the latest in an expanding body of research that show the type of dietary carbohydrates consumed is linked to AMD. The fact that the disease has no cure makes the discovery very important. It also adds to the science showing that health is inexorably connected to diet and nutrition.


Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.

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