CAROTENOIDS LUTEIN AND ZEAXANTHIN MAY HAVE A PREVENTIVE EFFECT AND PROTECT THE MACULA AGAINST DEGENERATIVE DISEASES
There are two natural substances that help to keep the retina in good health: lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids which are known for their protective effects on the macula. About this topic, an in-vivo study has been carried out on Nutrients: according to the authors, it demonstrates “their importance for eye health and preventing diseases such as age-related macular degeneration”. In fact, these molecules are good for our neurons, including those that are photosensitive.
The research – which was carried out at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and the University of Georgia by means of M.R.I. scans – aims to better understand the mechanisms by which lutein and zeaxanthin act on the elderly, particularly on the processing of visual-spatial information.
The study demonstrated that neural efficiency in key areas of the cerebral cortex responsible for visual-spatial processing improves proportionally to the concentration of lutein and zeaxanthin. Functional M.R.I. scans showed that in this instance (in the case of higher concentrations of lutein and zeaxanthin), lower oxygen levels were needed, that is to say that the same areas of the cerebral cortex consumed less energy.
Therefore they act not only directly on the retina, but also on the cortex. According to the study, which involved 51 people aged 72 years old on average, lutein and zeaxanthin “may impact brain health and cognition in older adults by enhancing neurobiological efficiency in a variety of regions that support visual perception and decision-making.”
In order to establish this relationship, researchers initially assessed the concentration of lutein and zeaxanthin in blood serum and in the retina, “which is strongly correlated to the daily consumption of foods rich in these nutrients.”
FOOD THAT MAY PROTECT OUR MACULA
As we know, it is important to have a rich and varied diet. In particular, we know that green leafy vegetables – such as spinach and cabbage – are a good natural source both of lutein and zeaxanthin. The latter is also contained in yellow and orange peppers, as well as in peaches, while lutein is found, for instance, in egg yolks. Therefore a key aspect to improving our lifestyle is eating healthy food. At eye health level, we also know that, besides the aforementioned food products, for example fish, blueberries, carrots, walnuts and almonds are particularly good for us.