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What Do Carbs Have to Do With Macular Degeneration?
January 06, 2021

What Do Carbs Have to Do With Macular Degeneration?

Researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University discovered some surprising results in a recent study on diet involving mice and the development of retinal changes that contribute to macular degeneration.

High Glycemic Diet

One group of mice were fed a high-glycemic diet and the other group of mice a low glycemic diet. Mice who were being fed a high glycemic diet experienced:

1. Retinal pigmented epithelial (RPE) atrophy or cell death

According to Bright Focus Foundation, the RPE's role is "to nourish the fragile nerve tissue of the retina and maintain its health by transporting molecules in and out, getting rid of dead cells, secreting hormones, modulating immune factors, and more."

2. Photoreceptor cell function loss

Photoreceptor cells include our rods and cones. The cone cells are responsible for central vision as well as our clear and color vision.

Low Glycemic Diet

Mice being fed the low glycemic diet did not show these signs of degeneration in the back of the eye and surprisingly mice who were fed a high glycemic diet and then given a low glycemic diet were able to reverse their retina eye damage to that of those fed only the low glycemic diet.

"We were genuinely surprised that the retinas from mice whose diets were switched from high to low glycemic index diets midway through the study were indistinguishable from those fed low-glycemic index diet throughout the study. We hadn’t anticipated that dietary change might repair the accumulated damage in the RPE so effectively. Our experimental results suggest that switching from a high-glycemic diet to a low-glycemic one is beneficial to eye health in people that are heading towards developing AMD,” said lead author Sheldon Rowan, Ph.D., scientist in the Laboratory for Nutrition and Vision Research at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University.

You may be wondering what is a high glycemic diet, what foods should one avoid and how does one transition to a low glycemic diet?

How to Switch to a Low Glycemic Diet

Leslie Degner, RN, BSN

Better Health for Better Vision

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