A eye healthy diet should include eggs

We’ve been conditioned to  “see” eggs as a risk to our health – this view is in and of itself controversial and it’s heart centric. Eggs are a must have for an eye healthy diet.

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If you’re not eating eggs – your eyes pay the price

lutein molecule packaged inside egg yolk

We “see” eggs as a risk to our health – this view is in and of itself controversial and it’s heart centric. Eggs are a must have for an eye healthy diet.

We worry about our heart’s A LOT,  but a body part that doesn’t get anything like the attention it deserves, are your eyes.

Specifically, the retina, the part of your eye that actually sees.

Loss of vision is a BIG problem

Going blind doesn’t kill you, but it does make living a lot less FUN and it happens to millions of people every year.

So maybe it’s time to start thinking not just about a heart healthy diet, but an eye healthy diet.

NOTE : On the surface, one would expect this to be the same thing and in a parallel universe, they probably are, but  right now, a lot of the time – THEY’RE NOT.

The limitations of a heart healthy diet

If you’re paying attention to the generally recommended health guidelines, then you are watching your saturated fat intake.

Translated this means, avoiding meat and eggs.

Now to be fair, eggs are currently IN.  Sort of.  But they have been OUT for a very long time and the official message that they are currently IN has not been widely dissipated.

And there are quite a lot of dissenting voices.

NOTE : Most of the current  fuss around eggs,  centres around choline – this must have nutrient, has a dark side……… TMAO.  To learn more  click on the links to visit the respective library pages.

What EGGactly should you do ?

Making the whole think, terribly confusing for the average Joe or Jane.

confused women holding evil egg and angel egg in her hands

And the confusion may be putting millions of eyes at risk.

Let me explain….

Eye anatomy 101

The eye is a sophisticated piece of equipment – there is a big screen, which is composed of photoreceptors. There are different kinds, designated as rods or cones, they’re sensitive to different types of light.  The details are not important.  The point is, when a wave of light arrives at the screen, it causes the photoreceptor to zing.

That zing does a whole bunch of chemistry…..

light signal being transmitted by photoreceptor in retina

The information travels along nerves, into the brain, where it becomes an image.

Starting a fire

Now, the light that is coming in is CONCENTRATED  energy.   Think back to when you were a kid and you used a magnifying glass, to START A FIRE.

The same thing is happening inside your eye.

You have a lens, at the front of your eye, which is  concentrating the light, so it falls on the photoreceptors at the back of the eye.

There is enough energy to break chemical bonds and cause contortions…………..actually, there is enough energy to create MINI IMPLOSIONS.

This is how you see.

Fire protection a MUST

The trouble is, if the energy is not “contained” the mini  implosions can end up being dramatic explosions.  Blown out photoreceptors cause vision problems and can ultimately lead to blindness.

a photoreceptor being blown out leading to blindness

To stop this from happening, the retina is coated with a screen protector.

Your protection is personal

Now everyone’s screen protector is not exactly the same, some screen protectors seem to be broader than others and the thickness of the screen protector varies, but the screen protector is always applied to the centre of the screen.

This screen protector is referred to as the macular.

And it’s thickness is measured as the MPOD (the macular pigment optical density).  As a rule, the thicker it is, the  more protected the screen is.

The forming of the screen protector

The macular  is  formed by the retinal pigment epithelium cells. These are a single layer of rather odd shaped cells, positioned just in front of the “screen”.

Retinal pigment epithelium cells take three special pigments and apply them to the screen.

themacular pigments

Now the pigments they use, come from your diet, well two of them do, lutein and zeaxanthin.  The third one, is whipped up inside the retinal pigment epithelium cells using  retinoid isomerohydrolase. The enzyme rearranges lutein to make  meso zeaxanthin and this is  pretty special reaction.

It’s a primate superpower

The enzyme is only found in the eyes of  primates.  Yup.  Mice and rats don’t have it in their eyes, which makes them poor models for human eye diseases.

NOTE :  The enzyme is also found in fish skin, but in this location it has nothing to do with SEEING

Pigment deliveries

The lutein and zeoxanthin pigments are delivered to the retinal pigment epithelium cells by lipoproteins, particularly the HDL particles, which when you are insulin resistant, can be a bit on the low side.  Eish !

NOTE :  This is probably one of the reasons macular degeneration is associated with metabolic syndrome and why doing what you can to improve your insulin sensitivity is SO IMPORTANT.   Download the free  Willpower Report to get started or if you are an advanced-bee, check out our page on the Ups & Downs of insulin resistance for additional strategies.

Screen protector application

The screen protector is liberally applied, as long as supplies are adequate.  Seriously, even if you are a hundred in the shade, these cells will do it – so it is NEVER TOO LATE, to beef up your defences.

The catch is – supplies MUST BE ADEQUATE.

a patchy macular because of xanthophyll shortages

So  you need to be eating lutein and zeaxanthin, if you’re not…………your screen is going to be more vulnerable.

So where do you find these xanthophylls ?    And how much do you need ?

NOTE :  Xanthophylls is the term used to describe them.  They are sometimes also referred to as carotenoids.  Eish !  Speaking biology can be “difficult”.

Buying screen protector

Well, if we start with how much you need.  Actually the xanthophylls haven’t made it into the Dietary Reference Intake guidelines.   There are moves a foot to make this happen.

What is known is most people don’t get terribly much.

The average American gets 1.7 mg/day.  The average European gets a little more, at 2.3 mg.  Is it enough ?   To be honest we don’t really know, what we do know is retinal disease is another epidemic running parallel with obesity, allergies and Alzheimers.

The official sources

Green leafy vegetables, think spinach,  are considered the best source of lutein, because they have the highest levels.   A cup of cooked spinach has approx 16 mg of lutein,

traditional lutein sources spinach and lutein supplement

NOTE :  If thinking spinach causes a gag response and/or eating a cup of spinach every other day is a daunting experience,  then think a rather pricey  lutein supplement.

Actually the best source of lutein is eggs.

On paper, the actual concentration in an egg yolk, is pretty tiny – clocking in at 200 ug.  But, thanks to the packaging, the lutein is actually delivered…..

It is 200 – 300 % more bioavailable i.e. it actually gets delivered.

And, epidemiological studies suggest, the packaging matters and that  eggs should be part of an eye healthy diet.

The egg-eye connection

The Blue Mountains Eye  Study, which tracked the health of 3654 sets of eyes for 15 years, found people who ate < 1 egg a week (THE HEART HEALTHY FOLKS ? ) had a much higher chance of a cracked screen.

Here is the stats along with one of the  conclusions IN PLAIN ENGLISH.

table from the blue mountains eye study

NOTE :  They have factored in other dietary and lifestyle habits, as well a little genetics.

The study found, that the  more eggs people ate, the better.

They concluded 5-6 eggs was the sweet spot.

Although they could not actually verify that eating more eggs would not be more helpful, because there weren’t enough people in their study, eating more than 1 egg a day.

The point is………

Eggs should be part of an eye healthy diet

We’ve been conditioned to “see” eggs as a risk to our health.  This viewpoint is controversial and not supported by a growing body of research.   Visit our egg library page to read up on some of this research.

doctor with egg on his face

What if NOT EATING eggs is the real risk ?

Eggs are a superfood.  They’re cheap, easy to cook, store and eat.   If you want to create BETTER BODY CHEMISTRY, don’t be afraid to include them in your diet.  Odds are – your eye’s will APPRECIATE IT.

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Consumption of eggs and the 15-year incidence of age-related macular degeneration. Clin Nutr (2020) 39(2):580-584.  Bamini Gopinath , Gerald Liew, Diana Tang, George Burlutsky, Victoria M. Flood and Paul Mitchell

The Macular Carotenoids: A Biochemical Overview.   Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Cell Biol Lipids  (2020) 1865(11):158617. Ranganathan Arunkumar, Aruna Gorusupudi, and Paul S. Bernstein

Disease burden of age-related macular degeneration in China from 1990 to  2019: findings from the global burden of disease study.  J Glob Health (2021) 11:08009.   Yichi Zhang, Aiming Chen, Minjie Zou, Zhenlan Yang, Danying Zheng, Min Fan, Guangming Jin. 

Further reading

blue light triggering melatonin release

Old eyes can’t wake the sandman up

Your teeth are not the only part of you which turns yellow with age, so do eye lenses, their yellowing could account for why you’re struggling to sleep.

 

Want to discover more ways to create BETTER BODY CHEMISTRY ?

Author: Taylor Payne