If you have diabetes, type 1 or type 2, you are probably already aware that vision loss can be one of its complications. In most cases, this is due to a condition called diabetic retinopathy, which involves damage to small blood vessels at the back of the eye. But people with diabetes also have a higher risk of other eye problems, including cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration.
I mentioned in an earlier blog post here, how supplementing with a specific combination of nutrients could help prevent diabetic retinopathy. One of those nutrients is lutein, a carotenoid pigment that is concentrated in the retina of the eye and is essential for clear vision. Lutein also filters out blue light waves that can damage cells in the retina and is powerfully antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, so it protects your vision in several ways.
Many studies have demonstrated lutein’s benefits for eye health. But new research now shows lutein could also help reduce the risks of coronary heart disease, stroke, and metabolic syndrome and may help to prevent several kinds of cancer and even Alzheimer’s disease. This makes lutein a particularly important nutrient for people with diabetes, who are at increased risk of all these health problems.
A systematic review and meta-analysis of 71 published studies, involving more than 387,000 people, found that those with higher intakes or blood concentrations of lutein, were at significantly lower risk of potentially developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.1 The risk of metabolic syndrome was slashed by 25 per cent, while risks of stroke and coronary heart disease were cut by 18 and 12 per cent respectively.
Other recent studies have revealed lutein’s potential to protect against cancers of the breast, prostate, colon and stomach. In fact, while other carotenoid compounds (such as beta-carotene, lycopene and astaxanthin) are known to have anticancer effects, only lutein successfully stopped the proliferation of breast cancer cells in one laboratory trial.2
Lutein could help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, too. New research shows that – under laboratory conditions, at least – its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can help protect brain blood vessel cells from the damaging effects of a protein fragment called beta-amyloid, which has long been linked with Alzheimer’s disease.3
In my next blog post, I’ll tell you how best to boost your lutein intake.Wishing you the best of health,
PhD DHD Nutritionist
for Real Diabetes Truth
Bear in mind we are not addressing anyone’s personal situation and you should rely on this for informational purposes only. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.
1. Leermakers ET, Darweesh SK, Baena CP et al. The effects of lutein on cardiometabolic health across the life course: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016; 103(2):481-494.
2. Swanson HM, Smith JR, Gong X, Rubin LP. Lutein, but not other carotenoids, selectively inhibits breast cancer cell growth through several molecular mechanisms. FASEB J. 2016; 30(1 Suppl):34.2.
3. Liu T, Liu WH, Zhao JS, Meng FZ, Wang H. Lutein protects against β-amyloid peptide-induced oxidative stress in cerebrovascular endothelial cells through modulation of Nrf-2 and NF-κb. Cell Biol Toxicol. 2016 Nov 22 (Online ahead of print).
Category: Diabetes and Heart Disease