Monday, August 15, 2011

How a Plant Based Vegan Diet Can Improve Your Eyesight

Eating Animal Products Can Harm Your Vision

From The World Peace Diet, by Will Tuttle PhD: The cholesterol and saturated fat we ingest through eating animal products cause many health problems. Besides clogging our veins and arteries, and contributing to heart disease and strokes, they may block the capillaries that carry blood to individual cells, resulting in cells that are weak, lacking oxygen and nutrients, and unable to completely cleanse the toxins and carbon dioxide that are the byproducts of their aerobic processes. Swimming in this unhealthy environment, they may begin over time to degenerate and die off.

Glasses advertisements are becoming
more popular as younger and younger people
are needing glasses.

One example of this is the increasingly common occurrence of macular degeneration, which causes severe vision impairment and blindness. Years of eating animal protein, fat, and cholesterol causes the tiny eye capillaries to become clogged with waste and debris. This causes the millions of cells in the macular area of the eye's retina, the cells specialized for seeing, to start dying off. Vision deteriorates and macular degeneration follows.

The same type of scenario may explain many other health degenerations as well, such as cataracts and other types of vision loss, impaired hearing, and particularly impaired mental functioning caused by clogged capillaries that service vital brain cells. Clogged brain capillaries may reduce the brain's efficiency and hinder its ability to make connections effectively. Vegetarian children have been shown to have significantly higher IQs than average (1). It's well known that Thomas Edison, during the years he worked so hard to discover the secrets of electricity, abstained from eating flesh because he found he could think more clearly and make vital connections more easily on a plant based diet. Other geniuses like Pythagoras, Leonardo da Vinci, and Mahatma Gandhi abstained from eating animals.

Eating Plant Foods Can Improve Your Vision

Individuals who eat at least 5 or more servings per week of dark leafy greens (spinach, collard greens, kale, etc.) have an 88% reduced risk of developing macular degeneration (2). Why is this the case? 

From the Harvard School of Public Health: "Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables keeps your eyes in good shape. You may have learned that the vitamin A in carrots aids night vision. Other fruits and vegetables help prevent two common eye diseases - cataract and macular degeneration - which afflict millions of Americans. Free radicals generated by sunlight, cigarette smoke, air pollution, infection, and metabolism cause much of this damage. Dark green leafy vegetables - such as spinach and kale - contain two pigments, lutein and zeaxanthin, that accumulate in the eye; these pigments are found in other brightly colored fruits and vegetables as well, including corn, squash, kiwi, and grapes (3).  These two pigments appear to be able to snuff out free radicals before they can harm the eye's sensitive tissues (4). In general, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables appears to reduce the chances of developing cataract or macular degeneration (5-8)."

Research shows that vegans typically have twice the fruit and vegetable intake of people eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) (1). In recent studies, vegans had higher intakes of 16 out of 19 nutrients studied, including three times more vitamin C, vitamin E, and fiber, twice the foliate, magnesium, copper, and manganese, and more calcium and plenty of protein. Vegans also had half the saturated fat intake and 1/6 the rate of being overweight (1).

Both My Father and I have Experienced Improvements in our Vision

When I was a young girl, my optometrist had warned me that eventually I would need glasses due to my astigmatism, and that there was no escaping it. As I aged, he predicted, it would get increasingly worse, to the point where I would need extremely thick glasses by the time I was in my early to mid-twenties. As he predicted, during my freshman year of college, my vision worsened to the point where I needed glasses. At that time I was eating a "junk-food vegetarian diet" heavy in dairy, bread, and processed foods. Along with my failing eyesight, I felt unhealthy and lethargic. I knew I had to make a change.

During the summer between my sophomore and junior year, I read a book on diet called the “Raw Food Detox Diet”. The idea that whole, fresh, ripe, raw fruits and vegetables were ideal for health, which permeated the book, really resonated with me. Although I was not aware of the wealth of scientific evidence that supports this claim at the time, I was convinced enough to change my diet to one that consisted of about 70-80% fruits and vegetables. Within six months, my eyesight had improved to the point where I no longer needed glasses. I knew I was on the right track! I now eat a diet that is 100% low fat raw vegan, and my vision is 20/20.

My father recently began adding more fruits and vegetables to his diet. At his last eye exam, his doctor had to adjust his prescription to a lower strength since his eyesight had improved so much! He didn't believe me that it was the fruits and vegetables, which inspired me to write this post. Many people disregard how powerful an effect what you eat has on your health. My greatest dream is to make a difference in the world by showing people they can make huge improvements in their health simply by changing their diet and lifestyle.

"Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival for life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet." ~Albert Einstein

“The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.” ~Thomas Edison 


1) Tuttle, W. (2005, July). World Peace Diet: Eating for Spiritual Health and Social Harmony. New York, NY: Lantern Books.
2)  Eye Disease Case-Control Study Group. Antioxidant status and neovascular age-related macular degeneration. Arch Ophthalmol. 1993 Jan;111(1):104-9. 
3) Sommerburg O, Keunen JE, Bird AC, van Kuijk FJ. Fruits and vegetables that are sources for lutein and zeaxanthin: the macular pigment in human eyes. Br J Ophthalmol. 1998; 82:907–10.
4) Krinsky NI, Landrum JT, Bone RA. Biologic mechanisms of the protective role of lutein and zeaxanthin in the eye. Annu Rev Nutr. 2003; 23:171–201.
5) Brown L, Rimm EB, Seddon JM, et al. A prospective study of carotenoid intake and risk of cataract extraction in US men. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999; 70:517–24.
6) Christen WG, Liu S, Schaumberg DA, Buring JE. Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cataract in women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005; 81:1417–22.
7) Moeller SM, Taylor A, Tucker KL, et al. Overall adherence to the dietary guidelines for Americans is associated with reduced prevalence of early age-related nuclear lens opacities in women. J Nutr. 2004; 134:1812–19.
8) Cho E, Seddon JM, Rosner B, Willett WC, Hankinson SE. Prospective study of intake of fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and carotenoids and risk of age-related maculopathy. Arch Ophthalmol. 2004; 122:883–92.