Fats, Inflammation, and Macular Degeneration

Fats, Inflammation, and Macular Degeneration

Posted under Eye Conditions

Fats, Inflammation, and Macular Degeneration

Inflammation plays a clear role in the development of age related macular degeneration (AMD). The normal healthy type of inflammation is the body’s response to a specific area that has had an injury.
The body responds by sending blood and nutrients to the tissues around and near the injury.  Although there is often redness, pain and swelling for a time, the injury eventually heals and the signs of inflammation disappear. The other type of inflammation that wreaks havoc with our cells and leads to many degenerative diseases, like AMD, is  an abnormal inflammation that extends to tissues of the body, including our eyes,  that has not experienced any type of injury or trauma.  This chronic inflammation targets healthy tissues and as Dr. Andrew Weil, the author of Healthy Aging states, “this inflammation … is abnormal and promotes disease rather than healing.”

Macular degeneration is a complex disease of the retina that involves, genetics, environment, risk factors like smoking and diet, and systemic diseases like cardiovascular disease.  Many of the risk factors we can’t control like family history, gender and aging. But some factors we can influence like what we eat and don’t eat.  Carbohydrates, fats and protein can be either anti-inflammatory or pro-inflammatory.  What we eat (or don’t eat) will affect the state of inflammation in our bodies.

Fats play a major role in inflammation.  It’s not only important to know what good fats to include in your diet but also what bad fats you should eliminate to reduce abnormal or chronic inflammation. Today’s processed foods as well as  restaurant and fast foods use fats that contribute to inflammation.  Fats that contribute to inflammation are margarine, vegetable shortening, and partially hydrogenated oil.  Dr. Michael Samuel, the author of Macular Degeneration: The Complete Guide for Patients and Their Families, instructs his patients to stay away from “foods made with corn, cottonseed, soybean, safflower or sunflower oils.” Also stay away from any fried foods.

The good fats are omega-3’s. They can be found in wild caught salmon, flaxseeds, walnut and pumpkin seeds.  Other healthy fish to include in your macular degeneration diet are tuna, herring, halibut, mullet and sardines.  Healthy oils are olive oil and flaxseed oil.

Researchers from Australia and Singapore published a study entitled, “Dietary Omega-3 Fatty Acid and Fish Intake in the Primary Prevention of Age-Related Macular Degeneration: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.” This meta-analysis consisted of a mathematical evaluation of the results from nine previous studies of nearly 89,000 people, of which more than 3000 developed macular degeneration. The authors found that high dietary intake of fish oils was associated with a 38% reduction in the risk of late macular degeneration.

To learn about how Omega 3’s affect our eyes and how to get more of them into your diet go to:

Macular Degeneration and Omega ‘s

Leslie Degner, RN, BSN

Better Health for Better Vision