Diabetic retinopathy refers to damage to the blood vessels of the eye retina due to diabetes. The condition is progressive and results in a gradual weakening of eyesight, at times causing complete vision loss. While this predominantly affects patients suffering from type 1 diabetes, approximately 60 percent of those suffering from type 2 diabetes also experience the condition after having lived with diabetes for a long period of time.
While it is known that diabetics need to monitor their diet to control their sugar levels, a recent study shows that particular foods are also associated with an increased risk of diabetic retinopathy. Hence, avoiding these foods can slow-down the progression of the condition and help to manage and even prevent the development of diabetic retinopathy.
Foods That Reduce Risk of Diabetic Retinopathy
Researchers found that the Mediterranean diet can be greatly beneficial in reducing complications that can arise from diabetes. It can help to reduce insulin resistance, oxidative stress, and inflammation, all of which are responsible for damaging the retina of the eye.
What Is the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet is one that includes foods eaten by people in the Mediterranean countries. It incorporates fruits and vegetables that have high fiber content, olive oil, oily fish, and red wine, all of which are considered good for health. Therefore, the Mediterranean diet is believed to be one of the healthiest diets.
In addition to the general health benefits, fruits and vegetables not only contain fiber but are also rich in antioxidants and have a low glycaemic index. This means that they are digested slowly and cause a slow increase in blood sugar levels.
Foods That Increase Risk of Diabetic Retinopathy
Scientists found that high-calorie diets that are rich in carbohydrates increase the risk of diabetic retinopathy. This is because the metabolic burden of these diets is high and they also cause oxidative stress. Therefore, the quality of carbohydrates is crucial in the diet of diabetics. Monitoring this as well as overall calorie intake can reduce the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.
Shortcomings of the Research Findings
Researchers were unable to observe the effect of vitamin D and sodium on diabetic retinopathy. They were also not able to establish the effect of antioxidants, alcohol, protein, and fatty acids on the condition.
Recommendations by Experts
The research that led to the findings involved 31 observational and interventional studies. Researchers carried out controlled trials to observe the effect of food and beverage intake, dietary patterns, and micro and macronutrients on diabetic retinopathy. The observations helped them draw a correlation between the diet of a person and the risk of retinopathy.
The findings indicate that the disease can be prevented if not managed by monitoring food intake. Doctors recommend reducing calories and increasing the quantity of dietary fiber and oily fish in your diet. Alternatively, the Mediterranean diet was found to have a positive impact in lowering the risk of diabetic retinopathy and preserving the eyesight of diabetics.
Related: Diabetic retinopathy eye disease causes, prevention and treatment