Taking care of your eyes and bones

Tired eyes and backache are two common health woes of office workers.

These problems normally arise from poor diet. Therefore, to solve the problems, you need to change your diet ie choosing food that can protect your eyes, and provide enough calcium for your body.

To keep eyes healthy, Vitamin A and beta carotene are the two essential nutrients needed. Carrots are an excellent source of both Vitamin A and beta carotene.

Research has shown that high intakes of beta carotene may help to protect against damage caused by free radicals. The body converts beta carotene into vitamin A which is needed for healthy vision as well as the maintenance of mucous membranes.

Other sources of beta carotene include tomato, spinach, apricot and red sweet potatoes which are further analysed below.

The level of Vitamin C in your eyes is much higher than in your bloodstreams. However, this level decreases along with age. Vitamin C protects the eyes by reducing ultra violet damage. It acts to protect the lens from oxidative damage and protect enzymes within the lens by removing oxidation-damaged proteins. As a result, deficiency in Vitamin C may lead to the formation of cataracts.

As your body does not store vitamin C for long, it is important to replenish it by eating lots of vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables.

As a guide, you should include the following foods which are essential for the healthy of your eyes:

1.Carrots contain more sugar than any other vegetables, and as mentioned above, abundant supply of beta-carotene which is good for your eyes as well as your skin.

2.Spinach contains protein, fats, carbohydrates, fiber, calcium, phosphorus, iron, beta-carotene, riboflavin etc.

3.Tomatoes are a good source of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, potassium and organic acid. Because of their acidic nature, they protect the vitamin C from damage or lost during high heat while cooking, thereby retaining much of the important vitamin C.

4.Wolfberry has high concentration of beta-carotene, vitamins A, B1, B2, C, calcium, iron etc. One very simple but nourishing drink is the wolfberry-chrysanthemums tea which is good for both your vision and liver.

5.Green peppers are rated the highest source of Vitamin C among the vegetables. They are also a rich source of fiber, calcium, phosphorus, iron and sugar.

6.Apricots are high in vitamin C, A, B1 & B2, sugar, protein, fats, inorganic salt, thus are considered to be nutritious fruits.

7.Chinese dates contain 14 amino acids that your body needs and the vitamins are higher than that found in apples and bananas.

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body. Of the body’s total calcium, about 99% is in the bones and teeth where it functions to support their structure. The remaining 1% is present throughout your body in blood, tissues and fluids between the cells.

You need calcium for muscle contraction, blood vessel contraction and expansion, blood clotting, the secretion of hormones and enzymes, and sending messages through the nervous system.

Your body maintains a constant level of calcium in body fluid and tissues so that your vital body processes function efficiently. If you suffer from calcium deficiency, you are at risk of developing osteoporosis. This involves loss of calcium from the bones and reduced bone density which causes bones to be brittle and liable to fracture.

Bone loss occurs with age in all individuals. But the loss rate usually speeds up after 35-40 years and involves the shrinking of the skeleton. Bone loss is greatest in women following the menopause. This is due to reduced levels of the hormone – estrogen. Postmenopausal women are particularly at risk from osteoporosis.

Doctors’ advice is to start storing up calcium in your body since infancy so that you are able to delay the inevitable gradual loss of bone loss in your later years.

If you have not been doing so, now it’s time to start the calcium buildup. The risk of osteoporosis may be altered by factors other than diet. Lack of exercise, being underweight, smoking and alcohol can all increase the risk.

Vitamin D is needed for absorption of dietary calcium. You can obtain Vitamin D from food and when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Thus, adequate vitamin D from food intake and sun exposure is essential for bone health.

Despite the goodness of calcium, excess calcium can be harmful to health. Too much in the blood can cause nausea, vomiting and calcium deposition in the heart and kidneys. This usually results from excessive doses of vitamin D and can be fatal in infants.

Some super calcium-rich foods are:

1.Milk is best known for its high calcium content, however, many people cannot digest the lactose in milk (lactose intolerance) resulting in nausea, bloating, gas, abdominal cramping, diarrhea within two hours after milk is consumed.

2.For those who are lacto-intolerant and therefore cannot drink milk, the next best alternative is to take soybeans or its related products. Not only are soy beans high in calcium, they are also rich in lysine and iron which are readily absorbed by our bodies.

Lysine is classified as one of the nine “essential” amino acids that the body needs for growth and tissue repair and has to get from outside source ie the body can’t produce lysine on its own. A 150g of tofu contains at least 500 gm of calcium.

3.Black sesame seeds are an extremely good source of calcium; studies have shown that one gram of seeds contains approximately 85 milligrams of calcium. Black sesame seeds also have high amounts of protein, phosphorous, iron and magnesium.

They are also said to cure constipation by regulating bowel movements. Some Chinese sinsehs also believe black sesame seeds can nourish our hair in keeping them looking rich and dark.

4.Broccoli is chosen for its rich vitamin A, calcium, vitamin B, vitamin C, folate, iron, beta carotene, magnesium, potassium and zinc. The darker colours of the florets, such as blue-green and purple-green contain more beta carotene and vitamin C than those with lighter greens.

5.Celery contains proteins and several other active compounds that promote health, including phalides, which may help to lower cholesterol, and courmarins, that may help to prevent cancer.

It is also a good source of calcium and phosphorus, therefore it helps to stabilize and protect blood vessels walls.

6.There’s iodine, calcium, protein, vitamin A, B and minerals in seaweed. It helps to rid of the cholesterol in blood vessels, thereby preventing the vessels from clotting.