Pigment in the eye found to be key between obesity, vision loss

April 26, 2013 by Alan Flurry

"Eat your veggies" has been an admonition of parents through the ages, but newly published brain research from the University of Georgia provides one of the best reasons why.

Lutein, the organic pigment that gives their color, is a powerful antioxidant that concentrates highly in the and retina, particularly in the eye's macular area. Lutein prevents the oxidation of fat in these areas to maintain the health of the brain and eyes while its absence leads to , the leading cause of blindness in the U.S.

This is documented in a new study from the Vision Sciences Laboratory in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of psychology published in the journal Nutrients in March.

"For years people have forgotten that our brain, along with the rest of our bodies, is composed of our diet," said Billy Hammond, a UGA professor in the brain and program and the study's co-author. "Diet and exercise have a very big influence on how the brain ages and many other basic processes that encourage degeneration, and how our brain protects itself from that is by concentrating antioxidants like lutein in these particular areas."

Hammond, who has published extensively on the nutritional issues of vision development and function, says the relationships between body fat, the brain and antioxidants remain very poorly understood, including highly publicized benefits of fatty acids like omega-3.

"Humans are the great symbiotes of nature, and our biology is based on symbiosis with other microorganisms," he explained. "Basic processes like oxidative stress and inflammatory stress occur very largely in the brain, so even these like omega-3 need to co-localize with an antioxidant like lutein."

The wider messages of intuitive connections between diet, function and aging are both long-held truths and among the most difficult to reconcile with modern life, he said.

"From protecting nervous tissue to preventing degenerative conditions in our brain and other organs, diet and vigorous exercise have by far the most influence on preventing late stage diseases as we age as well as making enormous changes to our biology right now," Hammond said.

Explore further: Grapes may help prevent age-related blindness

More information: www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/3/750

Related Stories

Grapes may help prevent age-related blindness

January 12, 2012

Can eating grapes slow or help prevent the onset of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a debilitating condition affecting millions of elderly people worldwide? Results from a new study published in Free Radical Biology ...

Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids may cause memory problems

February 27, 2012

A diet lacking in omega-3 fatty acids, nutrients commonly found in fish, may cause your brain to age faster and lose some of its memory and thinking abilities, according to a study published in the February 28, 2012, print ...

Supplement aids age-related macular degeneration

March 26, 2013

(HealthDay)—A supplement containing a combination of lutein, zeaxanthin, and ω-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs) significantly benefits patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according ...

Recommended for you

Drunk driving laws don't match the research

July 25, 2016

Emergency physicians learn to be prepared for anything thrown at us in the clinical arena. Personal life is a different story. Last year a drunk driver with multiple prior offenses and no valid driver's license smashed a ...

Clock controls junk food appeal

July 22, 2016

When it comes to extra kilojoules, a little more self-restraint won't go astray as the day progresses. New research from Flinders University and Liverpool University has studied the urge to snack more later in the day, even ...

Diagnoses: When are several opinions better than one?

July 22, 2016

Methods of collective intelligence can result in considerably more accurate medical diagnoses, but only under certain conditions. A study headed by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development has shed new ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

neversaidit
5 / 5 (2) Apr 26, 2013
"For years people have forgotten that our brain, along with the rest of our bodies, is composed of our diet,"
no, we haven't.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.