The nutritional deficiencies of a lifetime have finally accrued to such a level that the tissue doesn’t have the right nutrients to function normally. This is why you won’t find glaucoma in a 20-year-old. The deficiencies haven’t accrued as much as they need to. That’s why you’ll find that people in their 60s, 70s, 80s experiencing glaucoma. A lifetime worth of deficiencies has caught up with this population, and their tissues are no longer able to compensate, meaning their tissues quit functioning.
That’s why the very first step in my 3-Step Program is to correct deficiencies. This process can be mapped out and kick-started in just a few days, but it will take longer to get your tissues back up to health.
In our youth, there is great latitude in the tissues for compensating for nutritional deficiencies. This physiological reality has been collectively referred to as “the immortality of youth.” During this time in our lives, if we lack a nutrient or a group of nutrients, our bodies have the capability of doing a metabolic workaround that allows the body to compensate for the deficiency and carry on the body process without any noticeable effect. As we age, this ability to compensate for deficiency through metabolic “workarounds” is gradually but profoundly lost.
I’m here to tell you that these deficiencies are fixable. Your eye tissue is not dead. It is just unable to function correctly because nutrients required for that functioning have been missing from your diet for, in many cases, a lifetime. Only when these nutrients are finally provided will the journey back to health commence.
How Do We Actually Do This?
The first thing you should know is that you will not be able to correct these deficiencies through diet alone. Studies have consistently shown dropping nutrient rates in the food you buy in the grocery store over decades.
But, just because changes to your diet won’t be able to get you all the way there, that doesn’t mean they don’t play a crucial role in optimizing the health of your eye. Making changes to your diet can get you halfway there, and nutrient supplements can do the rest.
7 Diet Changes to Restore Health to Your Retinas
When I talk about changes to your diet, I like to emphasize that you can make many of these changes without dramatically impacting what you eat: it’s more a matter of how you shop for the base ingredients. Everybody has accumulated likes and dislikes over a lifetime, and trying to change your diet drastically after decades of habits is often a lost cause. The following 7 steps can help you improve your eye’s health without having to adopt a diet that you’ll never stick to:
- Shop for organic food: Organic produce is grown without the aid of pesticides, radiation, or other potentially harmful methods. In many ways, when you eat organic foods, you are eating foods that more closely resemble foods grown in the early half of the 20th century. When you’re shopping, you can look either for the USDA certified organic seal on products you buy or for a PLU code starting with 9.
- Avoid GMOs: One of the other side benefits of eating organic food is that you also avoid genetically modified organisms (or GMOs) as a result of that choice. Many of the common foods you buy, such as corn, potatoes, tomatoes, soybeans, peas, and dairy products, have been genetically modified by companies like Monsanto to be more resistant to pesticides or produce higher yields. These changes allow farmers to bombard these foods with more chemicals, and they also contribute to the decreasing nutrient level in our food.
- Do not avoid meat: I’m sure you’ll be happy to hear this, but meat, especially beef, is often essential to your eye health. That’s because meat provides necessary proteins and fat. Moreover, beef is nutrient-packed, since cows have four stomachs to process all available nutrients and fiber in the food they eat. In particular, I encourage you to consume organically raised, free-range, and grass-fed livestock.
- Shop the periphery: One of the best ways to avoid some of the harmful things I mentioned is to shop the periphery. I’m sure you’ve noticed that your grocery store keeps perishables around the edges: fruit and vegetables, meat, and dairy. The center of the store is where they sell the processed foods, and this is where a lot of sneaky GMO products and nutrient-light foods live. If you stick to the periphery and buy most of your food from the edges of the store, you’re on the right path.
- Carbs with caution: You also need to be cautious about your carbohydrate intake. There are nutrient-light and nutrient-rich carbohydrates, and you want to avoid the nutrient-light carbohydrates. In particular, what we would call “starches” are very low in nutrient levels: bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, and so on. Nutrient-rich carbs, such as fruits, are great.
- Fats are your friend: Fats, or lipids, are an essential part of the proper functioning of your cells. You lived through the “fat scare” in which conventional science told us that consuming fats was bad. But science has come to understand better that fats play a major role in the health of your cell membranes, allowing your cells to communicate with each other more efficiently and effectively.
- Optimal hydration: It sounds trite, but drinking a lot of water is crucial to your body’s overall health. In particular, I advocate for the rule of drinking half your weight in ounces of water per day (and that means water, not any other drink). So, if you weigh 150 pounds, that means 75 ounces of water per day. I also encourage you to drink home-filtered or even reverse osmosis filtered water, not tap or bottled water.
Diet + Supplementation = Healthier Retinas
If diet gets you halfway to optimal health, it’s a strong supplementation plan that gets you the rest of the way. It’s important that you understand, though, that no one plan is right for everyone. When a patient asks me “what should I take?” my answer is often a complex explanation of the proper supplementation plan that takes as long as 45 minutes.
In general, though, I suggest for most patients to start with what I call an “optimal supplementation” plan. This is a more intense regimen composed of 6 parts that together work to restore a lifetime’s worth of lost nutrients. Those 6 components are: a good multivitamin, macromineral supplements (such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, chloride, magnesium, sulfer, and sodium), micromineral supplements, fatty-acid supplements, digestive enzymes (such as amylase, protease, and lipase), and antioxidant supplements.
One common misconception that I should clarify is regarding those fatty-acid supplements. Fish oil has become popular because of its ability to decrease inflammation, but it is not suitable for helping correct fatty-acid deficiencies. Instead, it’s important that you find a fatty-acid supplement that properly balances omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids at a ratio of 4:1.
I know that sounds like a lot of pills, though, which is why I encourage patients to move from this “optimal supplementation” plan to a “sensible supplementation” plan, consisting of fewer supplements. There’s a supplement known as F3 that provides all 6 of the components I mentioned. It doesn’t provide all the antioxidant boosting and fatty acids I would like, though, so I suggest taking it with a 4:1 fatty-acid oil and an antioxidant booster called Astaxanthin.
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