I recently received an email from a local Lions Club member here in Oregon that asked the following question:
“In our area, where the income level is low, does the lack of nutritious foods affect sight and hearing in children? Also, would this lead to the onset of diabetes and other such problems?”
The answer to the first part of the question is absolutely yes. A lack of nutritious foods can certainly lead to a variety of health issues, vision and hearing being just two of them.
For vision, it’s been proven that many foods have qualities beneficial to healthy vision – particularly those with beta carotene, a red-orange pigment found in plants and fruits, especially carrots and colorful vegetables. According to Medical News Today, beta carotene, found in carrots, onions, peas, spinach, and squash, is an antioxidant and may also slow cognitive decline.
And sadly, children in low income households often eat a diet high in fat, calories and cholesterol, which can lead to a risk of diabetes and obesity. A lifetime of poor nutrition can be a cause of vision health issues such as Diabetic Retinopathy and Macular Degeneration.
In fact, WebMD lists healthy eating as the #1 tip to promote healthy vision, followed by #2 Quit smoking, #3 Wear sunglasses, #4 Use Safety Wear, #5 Look Away From The Computer Screen and #6 Visit Your Eye Doctor Regularly.
As for hearing, studies show that foods rich in minerals such as potassium can promote healthy hearing. So in addition to wearing ear plugs around heavy machinery and keeping the volume at moderate levels when listening to music, the following foods that are rich in minerals can help keep our ears healthy: Beans and leafy greens (Folate), Avocado, dark chocolate, whole grains (Magnesium), Nuts and seeds (Zinc), Bananas, melons, oranges (Potassium).
But why listen to me, I’m no doctor (or a Nutritionist).
Take a minute (Okay, 1:25) and check out this video and watch until the end. Our good friend Dr. Steve Mansberger reinforces some great advice from our Mom – and also provides some pretty good culinary advice.
So here’s to eating lots of healthy vegetables and healthy vision – bon appetit!