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Macular Degeneration and Diet as Natural Treatment



Macular degeneration is like other degenerative diseases such as arthritis, stroke and heart disease because it is mostly due to our diet and secondarily to our lifestyle. Therefore, it can easily be prevented and in many cases reversed to some extent. Macular degeneration is the number one cause of blindness in people who are 64 or older and who live in Western countries. The most severe form, which impairs vision, affects 1.7 million people in the USA.  Each year 200,000 new cases of the disease occur. Typically, this is a painless progressive disease which causes loss of vision in the center of the eye, or macula, occurring in both eyes at the same time. Our most detailed and acute vision occurs in the macula and it is vital for visual activities like watching television, driving, recognizing faces, reading and similar detailed work.

Numerous studies have clearly revealed that the same risk factors involved in the progression and development of coronary artery disease (heart disease) also accurately predict the possibility of losing eyesight from macular degeneration:

1.  Persons who are overweight have more than double the risk of progression of this disease in a mild form, which affects almost 8,000,000 persons in the USA, to the more serious form causing blindness in the next five years. Additional shared risk factors in both diseases are hypertension, high cholesterol, lack of exercise and cigarette smoking.

2.  A diet which is rich in all varieties of fats including vegetable fats, mono unsaturated fats (olive oil), trans-fats (margarines and shortenings) elevate the risk of developing macular degeneration by a factor of 2 to 3 times as compared to a low-fat diet.

3.  A diet which is low in vegetables and fruits is linked to an increased risk of macular degeneration.

4.  Vigorously performed physical exercise and activity lowers the risk of macular degeneration.

5.  As persons in previously underdeveloped countries such as China, Taiwan and Japan change from their traditional diets based on starches such as rice to Western diets, their chances of developing macular degeneration is elevated parallel to the risk of heart disease.

Macular Degeneration Is a Form of Atherosclerosis Caused by the Western Diet

Atherosclerosis, or disease of the arteries, is so prevalent in Western cultures that it is thought to be a natural aspect of aging. However, this degenerative disease is completely unknown or rare in those areas of the world where persons eat a diet based on fruits, vegetables and starches. The underlying cause revolves around the depositing of fat and cholesterol from food onto the interior walls of the arteries. The eyes have smaller arteries where this process of depositing fat causes a decrease in blood flow, inflammation of the vessels, stiffening or hardening of the walls and, last but not least, leaking of fluids through the artery walls into surrounding tissues. In persons afflicted with macular degeneration the average reduction of blood flow is 37% compared to persons who do not have this disease. This results in limiting oxygen and nutrients to the visual tissues in the eye located in the retina and specifically concentrated in the macula. The rods and cones, the receptors of light and color, eventually deteriorate and stopped functioning.

Saving Your Sight

Vitamin and mineral supplements are the orthodox treatment for macular degeneration. One medical study showed that vitamins E and C, zinc and beta-carotene produced a 25% lowering in the intermediate stage risks of macular degeneration. In spite of this study, a more straightforward conclusion is: in the light of corporate marketing, doctors’ recommendations, high profits and widespread use, no vitamin or mineral has been shown to be effective at stopping macular degeneration or postponing its complications.

The best, simplest, cost-free, side-effect-free method for preserving your vision for the duration of your life is the same one you should currently be using to preserve the efficient circulation of blood to your kidneys, brain, heart and other organs. This is a diet based on starches, low-fat and no cholesterol along with clean habits and moderate exercise.

In the event that you have already started to lose your vision you should be encouraged to know that it's not too late. Lowering triglyceride levels and blood cholesterol has been shown in clinical studies to improve eyesight in persons suffering from macular degeneration. Blood circulation in the eyes is improved immediately after changing from a diet high in fat to a low-fat diet. The core disease, atherosclerosis, can also be reversed in time. Inflammation is reduced or eliminated and fat and cholesterol deposits disappear from artery walls. The damage that remains from eating dairy products and meat is the scarred tissue that has lost its ability forever to detect light. The sooner these changes in diet are made the better will be your vision in the years to come.

This article was adapted from an article by Dr. John McDougall M.D. Go to his website at www dot drmcdougall dot com or do a search for "McDougall macular degeneration." There you can read all of the medical studies quoted to substantiate the facts revealed here.  Dr. McDougall also has excellent books and videos explaining the benefits of a starch-based, plant-based diet and how to change to such a diet.


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