It’s vision health month and it’s naturopathic medicine week! This week naturopathic doctors across Canada are sharing information to raise awareness on the role naturopathic medicine can play in the prevention and treatment of disease. Follow along by searching #nmw15 or #NaturopathicMedicineWeek. You will find blogs, free presentations and open houses hosted by my colleagues across Canada. Although I’m not hosting an event this week, I will have the opportunity to share health tips for keeping your eyes healthy on Global Toronto’s News at Noon, this Wednesday, May 13th so tune in!
Vision loss affects over 1 million Canadians. Many eye diseases can be prevented with early detection and treatment by seeing your optometrist for regular eye examinations. Most eye diseases are slow progressing without any detectable symptoms which is even more reason to schedule your check up ASAP.
Age related eye diseases such as cataract and age related macular degeneration tend to strike the older adult population. In practice, I also commonly see glaucoma and dry eye syndrome. Here is a snap shot of some common nutrients that I recommend in practice. If you need further evaluation and individualized care, please feel free to schedule an appointment. I’d be happy to help.
Bilberry Extract – Bilberry is the European blueberry. It contains antioxidants called anthocyanins which improve night vision and prevent and reverse macular degeneration. Blackberries, cranberries and blueberries are similar. Although bilberry doesn’t grow wild in North America, it is available in Canada as a supplement.
Ginkgo biloba – One of the oldest living tree species on earth. I commonly use ginkgo in practice for conditions such as dementia and recovery after a stroke. Ginkgo is an antioxidant and blood vessel dilator. It has been shown is some studies to improve blood flow to your retina – the light sensitive portion of your eyes, improving vision in glaucoma patients.
Lutein and Zeathanthin – These are two special pigments found in your eyes and also in food. These antioxidants filter out sunlight to protect the eyes from damaging sun rays. In studies for age related eye diseases, both lutein and zeathanthin have been found to reduce your risk for macular degeneration and cataracts. Kale and spinach are two of the highest sources as well as runny egg yolks.
DHA – This essential, omega 3 fatty acid is found in cold water fish. During pregnancy and in early childhood, it is important that women and babies get enough DHA to support the developing nervous system and eyes. It also helps to keep your eyes lubricated, preventing and possibly reversing dry eye syndrome.
Vitamin C – Found in high concentration in the lens of your eyes, vitamin c may help prevent the clumping of proteins in the lens that can lead to a cloudy lens and eventually, cataract formation. Dark greens, kiwi, berries and citrus are fabulous food sources.
A Smoothie Recipe – Smoothies are one of the best ways to increase your daily fruit and vegetable consumption to optimize eye health. I also love that smoothies can be kid friendly and a great way to help your kiddoes get all their daily nutrients in. When I ask patients to add herbs into their regimen, a smoothie is a wonderful way to cover the earthy taste that most people aren’t used to.
Dr. O’s Clear Vision Smoothie – 1 tsp fish oil, (1 cup of high vitamin C/lutein fruit) – ie. 1 kiwi, handful of spinach, 1 orange, ¼ cup blueberries, ½ cup gingko tea, cooled, ¼ cup plain coconut yogurt, 1 cup water
Blend together and serve cool. Enjoy!
And finally a plug for an extremely important issue affecting Ontario’s naturopathic doctors.
If naturopathic doctors have made an impact on your health and on the health of your family, let the Ministry of Health know by May 15th! Naturopathic doctors are very close becoming regulated under the RHPA, a framework which regulates most of the health professions in Ontario. While this is largely a positive move, naturopathic doctors need to ensure that our scope of practice is maintained. Currently, the access to laboratory testing, essential to diagnosing and monitoring our patients is being threatened. Once we move under the RHPA, it is likely that we will not have access to the full list of lab tests offered by licensed Ontario laboratories. This is a serious issue that will compromise the care of our patients. For more information on this issue and details on who and where to send your emails, please click here.