A Low Glycemic Diet May Reduce Risk of Age Related Eye Disease

A stupendous number of people today are switching to a low glycemic diet for heart health, fat loss, as well as for dealing with chronic conditions, such as high cholesterol and diabetes. Now a new study has suggested that this diet pattern is likely to be beneficial in preventing an age related eye disease.

A glycemic index (GI) diet includes carbohydrate-containing foods that are less likely to lead to large increases in blood sugar levels. The GI diet is considered a useful aid for diabetics and for those who want to achieve healthy weight and keep obesity-related chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease at bay.

Scientists at the Tufts University in the United States suggest that eating low glycemic foods like whole grains, nuts, legumes, fruits and leafy greens can reduce the risk of age related macular degeneration (AMD), a common age related eye condition that causes severe vision loss.

AMD occurs when a small central area of the retina of the eye called macula is damaged. A healthy macula enables us to read, watch television, and perform any visual task. It is the leading cause of vision loss in older people.

Contrary to the low glycemic diet, high GI foods like white potatoes, white rice, and white bread are rapidly digested and raise blood sugar levels more quickly, thus raise one’s risk of developing AMD apart from type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

In addition, the high GI foods can cause loss of function of cells at the back of the eye called retinal pigmented epithelial atrophy (RPE) of photoreceptor cells, which is the most common early sign of dry AMD, the researchers said.

“Our experimental results suggest that switching from a high glycemic diet to a low glycemic one is beneficial to eye health in people that are heading towards developing AMD,” said lead author Sheldon Rowan, scientist at the Tufts University.

To test the effect of low glycemic diet on eye health, the researchers used an aged mouse model. They randomised 59 mice into two groups; where a group of 19 mice fed a low glycemic diet and 40 mice fed a high glycemic diet. The only difference between the diets was only carbohydrate source.

The mice were followed for six months, which is equivalent to 34 human years. The researchers tracked the health of mice to see if any of the diets slowed or escalated the onset of AMD.

The result showed that a low glycemic diet released sugar into the bloodstream less rapidly than its higher-glycemic diet type, decreasing the likelihood of ailments that can adversely affect the eyes. The low GI diet could be beneficial for people at risk of developing AMD, the researchers said.

“Our findings show an interaction between dietary carbohydrates, the gut microbiome, specific biochemical molecules, and AMD features,” Rowan concluded.