Sugar, Inflammation and Macular Degeneration

Sugar, Inflammation and Macular Degeneration

Posted under Eye Conditions

Sugar, Inflamation and Macular Degeneration

Dr. Michael A. Samuel, the author of Macular Degeneration: A Complete Guide for Patients and Their Families, writes, “Modern research into macular degeneration has found that inflammation plays a clear role in the development of the dry form of this disease.”  Dr. Andrew Weil, the author of Healthy Aging believes that inflammation is the common root of many chronic diseases.

When someone thinks of inflammation, what first comes to mind is an injury or infection that looks red and swollen. We can see that the sprain or infection is really inflamed. Normally the body’s healing processes come to the rescue and the swelling goes down and the redness disappears.  But there is another type of inflammation that goes on in the body that can’t be seen or felt, but it is silently causing damage to our cells, nerves, blood vessels and yes, our eyes.  This chronic inflammation is now considered one of the main contributors to diseases like heart disease, diabetes, Parksinson’s, cancer and macular degeneration.

There are prescription and over the counter drugs that are anti-inflammatory but have serious side effects when used long term. An easier solution to reduce chronic inflammation is through one’s diet. All foods, protein, fats and carbohydrates affect our inflammatory status. Foods with sugar are pro-inflammatory. They cause a spike your blood sugar and insulin production and then a sudden drop – a process that increases chronic inflammation.  Reducing the frequency and amount of desserts you eat will help to reduce the inflammation in your body.

Other carbohydrates that affect our insulin production and inflammation are foods that have a high glycemic index. Allen Taylor, PhD, director of the Laboratory for Nutrition and Vision Research at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts University, examined the eyes of more than 500 women between 53 and 73 years of age. Taylor, who is also a nutrition, ophthalmology and biochemistry professor on the Tufts health sciences campus in Boston stated:

“The likelihood of having abnormalities characteristic of AMD on eye exam more than doubled for women who consumed diets with the highest glycemic index, regardless of other factors already known or suspected to increase the risk of AMD, such as age, high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, and obesity.”

Foods with a high glycemic index are foods that digest quickly, such as white bread, white rice, white potatoes or white pasta. Sweet potatoes, whole grain or sprouted grain breads, and whole wheat pasta have lower glycemic indexes and are less inflammatory.

To learn about what fats and proteins are anti-inflammatory visit

Anti-inflammatory Diet and Macular Degeneration

Leslie Degner, RN, BSN

Better Health for Better Vision