`Nutrients in MedDiet Linked With Prevention or Delay of Degenerative Eye Disease - Olive Oil Times

Nutrients in MedDiet Linked With Prevention or Delay of Degenerative Eye Disease

Aug. 11, 2021
Jasmina Nevada

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Following a Mediterranean-style diet may pre­vent the devel­op­ment of age-related mac­u­lar degen­er­a­tion (AMD), accord­ing to the find­ings of a team of French researchers.

In the recent Alienor epi­demi­o­log­i­cal study, researchers from Inserm and the University of Bordeaux inves­ti­gated the cor­re­la­tions between AMD, the lead­ing cause of vision loss in indus­tri­al­ized coun­tries and nutri­tion.

Omega‑3 fatty acids within the mac­ula have neu­ro­pro­tec­tive actions and prop­er­ties that pre­vent the abnor­mal growth of blood ves­sels, thus they help pre­vent degen­er­a­tive reti­nal dis­eases such as AMD.- Bénédicte Merle, researcher, Inserm

The most ben­e­fi­cial diet for pre­vent­ing AMD is a Mediterranean diet high in fruit and veg­eta­bles and enough omega‑3 from oily fish,” said Bénédicte Merle, an Inserm researcher and the lead author of the study.

The researchers found that fol­low­ing a diet rich in antiox­i­dants, omega‑3 polyun­sat­u­rated fatty acids, vit­a­min C and zinc helps pro­tect the mac­ula, which forms part of the retina in the eye.

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Adherence to the Mediterranean diet, which con­sists of plenty of fruit, olive oil, oily fish, veg­eta­bles and whole grains, was shown to pre­vent or delay the onset of the dis­ease, which has no cure.

The fol­low-up of the 1,000 par­tic­i­pants of the Alienor cohort for more than eight years has allowed us to high­light strong rela­tion­ships between nutri­tional fac­tors and AMD: omega‑3 fatty acids, vit­a­mins, Mediterranean diet and recently plasma lutein,” Merle told Olive Oil Times.

This work high­lights the impor­tant role of nutri­tion in AMD and empha­sizes that nutri­tional pre­ven­tion in this dis­ease is one of the keys to delay­ing its onset,” he added.

The find­ing is sig­nif­i­cant as it upends the results of a 2017 review of exist­ing sci­en­tific lit­er­a­ture, which con­cluded that the evi­dence that peo­ple fol­low­ing a diet rich in antiox­i­dants, vit­a­mins and min­er­als were less likely to develop AMD was incon­clu­sive.

Taking vit­a­min E or beta-carotene sup­ple­ments will not pre­vent or delay the onset of AMD,” the researchers wrote. The same prob­a­bly applies to vit­a­min C and the mul­ti­vi­t­a­min (Centrum Silver) inves­ti­gated in the one trial reported to date. There is no evi­dence with respect to other antiox­i­dant sup­ple­ments, such as lutein and zeax­an­thin.”

However, researchers involved in the Alienor study fol­lowed a group of 963 res­i­dents of Bordeaux who were aged 73 or older. Ultimately, the researchers obtained com­plete oph­thal­mo­logic and plasma carotenoids data for 609 par­tic­i­pants.

Throughout the study, the researchers closely observed the link between the pres­ence of lutein and zeax­an­thin in plasma and the devel­op­ment of the dis­ease.

An ini­tial blood test recorded the lev­els of lutein and zeax­an­thin in the patients with fol­low-up mea­sure­ments taken every two years. Over the course of the study, 54 patients devel­oped AMD.

Both sub­stances are carotenoids and are abun­dant in leafy green veg­eta­bles such as spinach, cab­bage and chard. These pig­ments are highly con­cen­trated in the mac­ula and play a spe­cific role in the func­tion­ing of the eyes. Neither com­pound can be syn­the­sized by the body and can only be obtained through diet.

Unlike pre­vi­ous inves­ti­ga­tions, which solely looked at the dietary infor­ma­tion of the par­tic­i­pants, the Alienor study ana­lyzed their blood sam­ples to demon­strate a defin­i­tive link between the lev­els of lutein and zeax­an­thin and a reduced risk of con­tract­ing AMD.

The mac­ula, the cen­tral part of the retina, is very rich in omega‑3 polyun­sat­u­rated fatty acids, which come from fatty fish, as well as lutein and zeax­an­thin,” Merle said.

Omega‑3 fatty acids within the mac­ula have neu­ro­pro­tec­tive actions and prop­er­ties that pre­vent the abnor­mal growth of blood ves­sels, thus they help pre­vent degen­er­a­tive reti­nal dis­eases such as AMD,” he added. Lutein and zeax­an­thin play an impor­tant role by fil­ter­ing the blue light that is toxic to the retina.”

The researchers found that higher lev­els of the carotenoids in the blood reduced the risk of devel­op­ing advanced AMD by 37 per­cent.

The results from this study pave the way for fur­ther research into the role of diet in the devel­op­ment of AMD and other ocu­lar dis­eases.

We now know the ben­e­fits of many nutri­ents on the onset of AMD, the next step seems to be a clin­i­cal trial to val­i­date the obser­va­tional work,” Merle con­cluded.





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