Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cataracts LESS LIKELY in those who eat their veggies

Hello everyone,

When I was a young lad, my mom would ALWAYS tell me to eat my vegetables. I'm certain that I wasn't the only one who has received this constant advice. However, I was notorious for shunning whatever vegetable I was served. Whether it was green beans or a medley of corn, carrots and lima beans (ugh!), the vegetable portion always ended up as a cold pile of food at the edge of my plate, at the furthermost position from my mouth.

I guess my mom was onto something. There's a report on WebMD that says "people who eat meat may be at increased risk of developing cataracts compared to vegetarians," according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

For the study, they divided the people into groups according to how much meat they ate.

Highest meat consumption: 3.5 ounces or more a day
Mid-range meat consumption: 1.7 to 3.4 ounces a day
Low-meat consumption: less than 1.7 ounces a day
Fish eaters: Those who ate fish but not meat
Vegetarians: Those who did not eat meat or fish but did eat dairy products and/or eggs
Vegans: Those who did not eat meat, fish, dairy products, or eggs.

And the results? The researchers found that "mid-range meat eaters had a decreased cataract risk of 4%, low-meat eaters 15%, fish eaters 21%, vegetarians 30%, and vegans 40%."

When I see a patient that has a cataract and I bring it to their attention, some patients ask if there's anything they could do about it. If you weren't aware, other risk factors for increasing the risk of developing cataracts include smoking, diabetes and UV exposure. Now, I would mention eat more vegetables/cut out red meats to the list.

Now that I'm older, I'm much better at eating vegetables. But lima beans are still UGH!

Dr. Weaver

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Gut check! Increased waistline = higher risk of macular degeneration?

Hello everyone,

There are always an assortment of studies that you hear about in the news. Beer is good for me. Really? Caffeine increases my lifespan. Really? Sleeping more than 10 hours is bad for me. Really? Chocolate makes me strong like Superman? Okay, that last one may be believable...

And then you hear the studies that give you the opposite opinion, as well. So, how can you believe anything that you hear in the news? This brings me to the article that I just read, saying how if you have a big belly you are more likely to go blind from macular degeneration. REALLY?!

The UK's Daily Mail website said that "an expanding waistline puts men in danger of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD)." After monitoring "changes in the waistlines of more than 21,000 men and women, aged between 40 and 69, over several years," then following the study population to determine how many cases of AMD developed, Australian researchers discovered that "even small increases in waist size seem to raise the risk of AMD by up to 75 per cent" in men. Women do not seem to be affected, however.

It is an actual study in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Their efforts were to try and show a correlation between obesity and developing macular degeneration. In my previous blog post, you should be aware that smoking is a risk factor. Increasing age, light-haired/light-skinned individuals and UV exposure are all risk factors as well.

What you also learned from the Smoking = Macular Degeneration post is that if a patient is told to have signs of macular degeneration, the patient is usually monitored and/or started on a multi-vitamin using minerals and vitamins investigated in AREDS (Age-Related Eye Disease Study) in the early stages of AMD. On a separate note, previous studies show that increased waist size is also a good predictor of having a stroke.

So what does all this mean? To me, it sounds like it all comes down to having a good diet and maintaining an active lifestyle. If you eat right and stay in shape, your body gets the correct nutrients it needs, which helps with the slimmer waistline. Your eyes get the components they need (leafy green vegetables are an eye's best friend). Exercising gets the juices flowing to burn the fat that tends to collect in the belly zone of men.

So, now that winter is behind us (hopefully), get out of hibernation mode and into active mode. Your eyes and belly will thank you for it.

Take care,
Dr. Weaver