I am often asked this question in the course of one of my comprehensive eye examinations. Less importantly, the insurance companies may require it, and more importantly, because your eye is a part of your body! It is intimately connected to your musculoskeletal system, your neurological system, and your circulatory system, as well as indirectly to your other systems including your digestive, endocrine and lymphatic systems. Since they are so connected, I care about your general health as well as your eye heath.
You may not realize that eye conditions such as macular degeneration and diabetic eye disease are related to the foods you eat. Nutrition plays a tremendous role in your overall health, including your eye health. So what should you eat? There is a ground swell of data that indicate a whole foods, plant-based diet is the healthiest diet on the planet for human beings. Many chronic diseases that we accept as a part of aging, are due to nutrition more than anything else.
Over a year ago, despite my best efforts at exercise and moderation in my diet, which was what most would consider the standard American diet, my cholesterol level hit 254. I had no desire to be on a life-long medication (a statin) so I began looking at other options. I was 52 years old, not overweight, had no family history of high cholesterol, and I exercise regularly. I had tried over the past year to eat less dairy and meat, but my numbers continued to climb. After watching the movie, Forks over Knives, and doing some research, I stopped eating meat and dairy completely. In six weeks my cholesterol had dropped to 172. And what were the side effects of my new diet? I had more energy, regular bowel movements, no sleepiness after meals, less joint pain, more energy and improved sleep. My grocery bills were lower as well. Since that time I have been to professional conferences on nutrition and read more studies and books than I have read in years.
What I have learned is so compelling that I will not go back to my old diet. I eat more good food and feel full and I do not miss animal products at all. If you want to explore how to be healthy, feel great and eat a diet that you can keep up for the rest of your life, try a whole foods plant based diet! It will lower your risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease (stroke and heart attack), and even lower your risk for cancer. Don’t believe me? Do some research yourself and stop listening to the ads from the dairy council, the meat and egg industry. Look at independent research by people who are not trying to sell you something. In the words of Kim Williams MD, past president of the American College of Cardiology, and advocate of plant based diets, “I don’t mind dying. I just don’t want it to be my fault.”