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The importance of the Mediterranean diet in preventing the onset of eye diseases

Priya S

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Nowadays, we are witnessing the ongoing evolution of society and the world at large. This process is leading to many improvements, but also to consequences that are not entirely positive.

Environmental pollution has increased in the last decades and people are living in high-stress conditions that only bring a worsening of their eating habits and lifestyles, all of which has led to an increase in the occurrence of certain diseases, specifically, eye diseases (https://www.jpmh.org/index.php/jpmh/article/view/2760/1024).

The eyes are the most important part of our visual system, which require a lot of work to be kept healthy. First and foremost, it is essential to adopt proper eating habits, as this organ needs many important micronutrients such as vitamins, carotenoids, trace elements, and omega-3 fatty acids to function properly and to be protected against degenerative disorders, induced by both age and light—especially sunlight.

Knowing this, MAGISNAT (www.magisnat.com), an innovative spin-off based at Atlanta Tech Park in Peachtree Corners, Georgia, through the work of the American and Italian professors and researchers that compose it, is working hard to find solutions to this issue and to decrease the occurrence of these dangerous eye diseases (http://magisnat-rd.com/fourth-week-of-march-2023/).

Many studies showed that adopting a Mediterranean-style diet positively affects eye health. The Mediterranean diet, being characterized by the consumption of small amounts of red meat, while preferring larger intakes of fish, eggs, nuts, legumes, citrus fruits, predominantly green leafy vegetables, fruits, milk and dairy products, and olive oil, provides all the micronutrients that are necessary to have a strong and healthy body.

Specifically, the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties of these foods, both when used as dietary regimen ingredients and as a source of dietary supplements, have shown promising results in the management of eye diseases.

In particular, it has emerged from MAGISNAT studies that certain natural molecules can positively affect eye health, specifically.

Some of these molecules are:

  • Melatonin—it can be found mainly in fish, milk, eggs, some types of seeds, and pistachio nuts. It is important because it protects the retina from oxidative stress by regulating the secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in the retina. Although it is useful in the management of several ocular diseases, the causality between melatonin and ocular diseases has not yet been identified, reflecting the need for further prospective clinical studies;
  • Vitamin A—found in carrots, tuna, and almonds. It has been shown that retinitis pigmentosa patients who consume foods containing this natural molecule daily have had benefits toward this condition;
  • Omega-3 fatty acids—contained mainly in oily fish (such as mackerel, sardines, and salmon), they have anti-inflammatory effects, positively affecting dry eye disease, AMD, or macula degeneration resulting in loss of clear vision, and IOP (Intra Ocular Pressure, i.e., eye pressure);
  • B vitamins—found in milk, cheese, eggs, fish, leafy vegetables, and chicken. They have been shown to have antioxidant and neuroprotective properties, which can reduce the incidence of cataracts.

In conclusion, prevention is essential to reduce the rate of contracting these diseases involving the visual system.

The fundamental method, says MAGISNAT, is to adopt a Mediterranean lifestyle; particularly, to consume a diet that is rich in those essential micronutrients derived from the foods mentioned above. If such a thing is not possible, due to a too busy life, another good option is to follow a proper supplementation regimen, to make up for those nutrient deficiencies that are due to an improper diet.

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