Food Swap To Prevent Age-Related Eye Disease

Swapping out high-glycemic foods for low-glycemic options, like switching from white bread to whole grains, can help keep your eyes healthy, and even potentially halt the development of age-related eye disease, Tufts University researchers found.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), for which there is no cure, is the top cause of vision loss in adults over age 50, but scientists have discovered a switch over to starches that release sugar into the blood stream slowly (low-glycemic foods) can help repair retinal damage.

In a mouse model, scientists randomized 59 mice into two groups: 19 low-glycemic diet mice and 40 high-glycemic diet mice. The only difference in their diets was the carbohydrate source. Six months into the study, the high-glycemic diet mice were either switched over to the low-glycemic diet or remained on the high-glycemic diet.

The high-glycemic diet led to the onset of many of the AMD symptoms, including a loss of function of the cells at the back of the eye, but the low-glycemic did not. A change in diet partway through the study actually repaired the damage to the cells in the back of the eye, they concluded.

Their research showed how gut microbes were altered in response to the diet. Serotonin levels (the feel-good hormone) in the blood are higher in those on a low-glycemic diet, since serotonin is made in the intestine in response to signals produced by healthy gut microbes, researchers say. Higher serotonin levels are linked to retinal health, researchers concluded.

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