DIET TO HELP MAINTAIN VISION
The best dietary advice relating to vision is simply to increase fruit and vegetable intake and to consume a large variety of different types of food. No particular nutrient has consistently been proven to contribute solely to improved eye health.
Vitamin A, also known as Retinol, and found in green vegetables and carrots can play an important role in maintaining good eye health. There is some evidence to suggest that increasing intake of Vitamin C and E could also be of benefit. Omega 3 fatty acids found in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, trout and herring may also help to preserve eye health. Vitamin B2 known as Riboflavin is found in small amounts in numerous foods. Good sources are eggs, milk, mushrooms, rice and fortified breakfast cereals. Vitamin B3 can be found in eggs, milk, chicken, beef, pork and wheat flour.
IMPROVING YOUR DIET
There are lots of simple things you can do to improve your diet. You don’t need to make big changes – a few small steps can make a real difference.
• Eat a balanced breakfast.
• Starchy foods such as bread, cereals, rice, pasta and potatoes give us energy and should make up about a third of the food we eat. Choose wholegrain rather than refined varieties. Wholegrain foods contain more nutrients and fibre, releasing energy slowly.
• Eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day – this includes fresh, frozen, canned and fruit juices. Eat a ‘rainbow of colours’ to ensure that you are getting the best mix of nutrients.
• Cut down on salt – check food labels and avoid foods that are high in salt (more than 1.5g salt per 100g or 0.6 sodium).
• Cut back on saturated fat. Check food labels (5g or more per 100g of saturated is high in saturated fat). Check labels for hidden sugar – fructose and glucose.
• Replace snacks of crisps and biscuits with healthy alternatives such as fruit, nuts and seeds, olives etc.
• Eat at least two portions of fish per week, (one of which should be oily (choose from salmon, mackerel, sardines, pilchards or herring).
• Grill, steam, boil and bake food instead of frying and roasting.
Write it down. Keep a food diary to understand more about your eating habits. Plan ahead to have healthy food to hand – at home or just on the go.
IDEAS FOR QUICK AND NUTRITIOUS SNACKS
Sandwiches (use different breads) filled with cooked meats, bacon, tinned fish, cheese or peanut butter. Add pickles and relishes.
Toast with sardines, beans, cheese, ravioli, tinned spaghetti, well cooked eggs.
Crackers topped with cheese, toasted crumpets, teacakes, yogurt, fruit, malt loaf, fruit cake.
TIPS ON HOW TO PICK HEALTHIER MEALS WHEN EATING OUT
• Have sauces and dressings served on the side. Pick steamed, baked, grilled or poached foods instead of fried, au gratin or sautéed.
• Limit high salt foods such as pickled, smoked, in soy or teriyaki sauce.
• Choose fruit juice or water instead of fizzy soft drinks.
• Avoid high fat desserts such as cream cakes, Many restaurants can offer a fruit salad or yogurt – just ask!
• Restaurant portions are often far larger than necessary. Ask for smaller portions or share.
FRUIT ALTERNATIVES TO ‘SWEET’ TREATS
Apples are a perfect snack – apples are loaded with pectin – a fibre that is especially filling.
Dates are a great alternative to sweets, are a good source of iron and dietary fibre and provide a chewy sweet treat.
Tangerines are sweeter than oranges, are easier to peel and an excellent source of vitamin C plus fibre.
Kiwis are loaded with vitamin E and C (more than an orange) and have more potassium than bananas. The little black seeds are rich in alpha-linoleic acid, an omega 3 essential fatty acid.
“WHAT COLOUR IS YOUR DIET?”
Red and Purple colour range is high in antioxidants and includes blackberries, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, plums, prunes, purple grapes, raspberries, red apples, red cabbage, red peppers and strawberries. Tomato based sauces and ketchups also come into this category.
Orange range contains carotene which boosts eye and skin health has apricots, cantaloupe, carrots, mango and sweet potato.
Orange and Yellow range which protects cells from damage are nectarines, oranges, papaya, peaches, pineapple, tangerines and yellow grapefruit.
Yellow and Green range is rich in antioxidants and provides further protection for eyes includes avocado, corn, cucumbers, green beans, green peas, green and yellow pepper, honeydew, kiwi, lettuce, spinach.
Green range stimulates the production of cancer-fighting liver enzymes has broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale.
White and Green range is rich in flavonoids which protect against cell damage includes mushrooms, asparagus, celery, chives, leeks.
These lists are only an indication of some of the fruits and vegetables in each colour range. By including the ‘color ranges’ in your choices, overall health improves with the increased nutritional intake of vitamins, minerals and fibre.
TIPS ON LITTLE CHANGES WHICH MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE
In a recent study people who finished crossword puzzles four days a week had a 47% lower risk of memory loss than those who did just one.
A good chuckle releases feel good endorphins into our system, exercises our diaphragm and works our shoulders. Research has shown that laughter is good in lots of ways.
Most people use more salt than they should. Salt contains sodium, and too much sodium can raise blood pressure. Choose lower salt options when buying food and stop using salt at the table.
Starchy food such as bread or breakfast cereal helps to give energy. Choose wholegrain versions. Porridge is a healthy choice and use fruit to sweeten rather than sugar.
TRY SOME OF THESE IDEAS
Choose wholegrain crackers which give your brain and stomach healthy energy. They aid digestion and help keep heart healthy.
TOSS SALAD IN LEMON JUICE
A healthy alternative to oil laden salad dressings – try lemon juice.
FRESH OR FROZEN VEGETABLES INSTEAD OF CANNED
Canned vegetables contain added sodium as a preservative. If you must eat canned vegetables rinse them before cooking to remove some of the excess sodium.
Drink 100% Juice instead of “fruit flavoured” drinks. You are more likely to get all the vitamins and fibre of the actual fruit with 100% juice. “Fruit Flavoured” drinks often contain extra sugary unnatural sweeteners so read the labels and find out the actual percentage of juice in your “fruity” drinks.
EAT WELL, FEEL WELL
Nutritionists urge us to eat five portions of fruit vegetables every day because they are packed with the vitamins, minerals and fibre we need for good health.
Food grown locally and in season tends to taste better so choose it when you can.
Different coloured fruits and vegetables contain different vitamins and minerals which your body needs to maintain good health. Choose from green (cabbage, spinach, broccoli etc.) red (tomatoes, peppers, strawberries) orange (carrots, mangoes, apricots) blue (blueberries, blackberries, aubergine) white (bananas, onions, cauliflower) fruit and vegetables.
Eat leafy green vegetables like brussel sprouts when in season and they contain more vitamin C than an orange, if they are not overcooked.
Carrots are packed full of beta-carotene which our bodies turn into vitamin A. Try roasting, mashing into a puree, grating into soups and salads or baking in a cake. Parsnips, turnips, celeriac and sweet potatoes are also root vegetables in season now.
Beetroot is bursting with minerals and antioxidants. To cook it, wash but don’t peel, then either steam or bake until tender. When it is cool you can simply rub the skin off.
Pears contain vitamins B6, C and E and potassium and copper. Poach for a delicious dessert. Apples are a handy snack alternative to biscuits. Full of antioxidants such as Vitamin C, they also contain pectin, a form of soluble fibre that can help to keep the digestive system healthy.
BEST SOURCES FOR CALCIUM
Calcium is important for bone growth, density and repair. The best way to increase calcium intake is through a well balanced diet with foods rich in calcium.
Dairy – milk, yogurt, cream are good sources of calcium. Low fat milk and cheeses are the healthiest option.
Fish – canned fish that contains soft bones is the best meat option for calcium intake. Select canned sardines, salmon and mackerel.
Vegetables – green vegetables especially leafy ones are high in calcium intake. Choose collard greens, lettuce, kale, celery, broccoli, green beans and asparagus.
Soya – soy products like tofu, soya milk, soya cheese, soya yogurt are good choices for adding extra calcium in to the diet.
Nuts which are a good source of fibre and protein also contain calcium – almonds, brazil nuts, walnuts and sesame seeds have a high content.
Fortified Calcium – some juice products have been fortified with calcium. Other fortified products include some breads, grains, cereal and rice drinks.
Herbs and Spices such as basil, thyme, oregano, cinnamon and rosemary have a high density of calcium.
EAT YOURSELF HAPPY
The food you eat could affect your mood – some suggestions which may help:
Skipping meals, especially breakfast, leads to low blood sugar and this can lead to low mood, irritability and fatigue. Aim to eat three meals a day and choose healthy snacks in between meals, such as a low fat yogurt, piece of fruit or handful of nuts.
Eat fewer sugary and refined foods
Sugary foods, such as chocolate, cakes and fizzy drinks, are absorbed quickly into the bloodstream and give an instant energy rush. This will quickly wear off leaving one feeling tired and low. Instead, choose wholegrains, pulses, fruit and vegetables, which are absorbed more slowly, have less of an effect of blood sugar levels, and are therefore less likely to lead to mood swings.
Eat a wide variety of food
Keep your diet varied and interesting to provide you with all the nutrients you need. Aim to eat a well-balanced diet rich in fruit, vegetables, wholegrains (e.g. oats and brown bread), oily fish, lean meat or poultry and some low fat milk and dairy foods.