Friday, June 10, 2011

Macular Degeneration & Diet Factors

Dietary factors are known risk factors for Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) which is the leading cause of vision loss among persons aged 65 and above. In particular, high glycemic index diets have been hypothesized as a risk factor for AMD. Glycemic Index is a measure of the effect of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. Most fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and fructose products low in carbohydrates and have a low glycemic index. Most foods like baked potatoes, extruded breakfast cereals, white bread, white rice and corn flakes are high glycemic index foods.

Researchers reporting in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition studied the association between dietary glycemic index and the 10 year incidence of AMD in the Blue Mountain Eye Study population. Over 10 years, 208 of 1810 persons developed early AMD. After age, smoking, other risk factors, and dietary constituents were adjusted for, a higher mean dietary glycemic index was associated with an increased 10 year risk of early AMD. Conversely, a greater consumption of cereal fiber and breads and cereals (predominantly lower glycemic index foods such as oatmeal) was associated with a reduced risk of incident early AMD. No relation was observed with late AMD. The researchers concluded that a high glycemic index diet is a risk factor for early AMD—the recognized precursor of sight threatening late AMD. Low glycemic-index foods such as oatmeal may protect against early AMD.

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