How to Improve Your Eye, Brain & Overall Health by Marc Grossman, OD, LAc

Eating a healthy diet is one of the critical factors in helping both maintain good brain, eye and overall health. Also, the way we eat affects our digestion and how well we are able to breakdown and absorb the essential nutrients in the food we take in. Here are some basic recommendations.

Avoid Distractions

Eat without distractions. Eat slowly without watching TV or being distracted by other activities.

Eat Healthy Foods

Eat a healthy diet. Choose an alkaline diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables that is very low in refined carbohydrates and sugar. Eating poor quality foods leads to poor brain and eye function. Follow the Mediterranean diet,1 or better yet, the MIND diet.2

Try to make juice at least a few times a week. Here’s a general juicing recipe for the brain: (some combination of the following plus your favorite fruits and vegetables, not too many sweet fruits): green, leafy vegetables such as kale, broccoli, red beets, parsley, avocado, apples, blueberries (especially these), strawberry, bilberry, black currant, blackberry, mulberry, goji berries, citrus fruits such as lemon, apple, kiwi, grapes, pomegranate juice, prunes, walnuts, chia seeds, yogurt, ginger and honey.

Go to Bed a Bit Hungry

Finish eating hours before bedtime. The gallbladder and liver (meridians in Chinese medicine) are most active between 11:00pm-3:00am and if the body’s energies are being used for digestion, their repair function will not be at an optimal level. In Chinese medicine, the Liver meridian “opens to the eyes,” so is the primary energy flow for overall eye health, so from a Chinese medical perspective, the peak eye repair goes on from 11pm – 3am in the morning.

Be Consistent

Maintain consistent furniture locations and daily patterns if you have vision or memory problems.

Meditate

Reduce anxiety with meditation. Some forms of meditation daily will lower cortisol levels and halt “flight and fight” mode. Three studies reviewed all reported significant findings or trends towards significance in a broad range of measures. They included a reduction of cognitive decline, reduction in perceived stress, increase in quality of life, as well as increases in functional connectivity, percent volume brain change and cerebral blood flow in areas of the cortex.

Daily practice of meditation helps improve attention, reduce depression, improve sleeping, cognitive function, and neural circuitry, and even increases grey matter in parts of the brain responsible for muscle control, and sensory perception such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision making, and self-control.

Researchers identify meditation-based interventions with improved quality of life and cognition.3

Reduce anxiety with other relaxation. Set aside at least twenty minutes per day for some mindful relaxation (could be meditation, prayer, yoga, even a walk in the woods). Simply taking a few deep breaths engages the vagus nerve which triggers a signal within your nervous system to slow heart rate, lower blood pressure, and decrease cortisol.

The next time you feel yourself in a stressful situation that activates your “fight-or-flight” response, close your eyes and take ten slow, deep breaths, and feel your entire body relax and decompress. Relax by listening to music. Watch a funny movie.

Be a Friend

Socialize with a friend one or two times a week (can be for a drink, cup of coffee, dinner, movie etc.) In a 2016 study, researchers found that there was a 7.5 times greater risk and association between loneliness and the amount of amyloid deposited in the brain in cognitively normal adults.

Use Your Brain

Keep learning. A 2007 study with twenty-seven Dartmouth college students demonstrated that significant changes are occurring in adults who are learning. The structure of their brains undergoes change in white matter. White matter is composed of bundles, which connect various gray matter areas (the locations of nerve cell bodies) of the brain to each other, and carries nerve impulses between neurons. This includes learning or playing an instrument, learning new subjects, doing daily memory exercises, crosswords, playing chess, etc. Mentally stimulating activities and certain brain-training programs are associated with significant reductions in the risk of dementia in long-term research.4

Keep Moving

Get exercise regularly daily or at least 4-5 times per week. Researchers find that exercise improves almost all health conditions, including vision conditions. Exercise is linked to significant reductions in dementia risk. In particular, aerobic exercise is associated with reduced grey- and white-matter brain tissue loss and fewer neurotoxic factors. 5

Interval walking is especially valuable. In this mode of exercise walkers perform three minutes of easy walking and three minutes of regular walking in which heart rates rise to about ninety percent of maximum for one’s condition. Researchers note that after 20 weeks, compared to continuous moderate walking, elderly interval walkers showed significant improvements in both physical endurance and memory performance. The more fit, the more their memory improves.6

Eye Exercises

Take regular eye exercise breaks from the computer. Symptoms of computer eye strain is the number one complaint eye doctors receive from their patients.  Most importantly, take time away from your electronic devices, as computer use is directly linked to many eye conditions, including glaucoma and dry eye syndrome. During those breaks, do some eye exercises.

Make sure your “rest” activities are the opposite of your current preoccupation; the point is to engage your eyes and body in different ways. For example, if you have been sitting, doing close-up work, stand up and stretch, while looking out a window into nature. Better yet, take a walk around the block.

Clean Your Teeth

Practice good oral hygiene. One study reviewed 549 articles on oral hygiene and concluded that older people with dementia had high scores for gingival bleeding, periodontitis, plaque, and assistance for oral care. In addition, candidiasis, stomatitis, and reduced salivary flow were frequently present in older people with dementia.

Be Happy

Cultivate and encourage a positive attitude. Having a positive attitude has been shown to increase one’s average lifespan 7.5 years compared to a negative mental attitude.

 

  1. Petersson SD, Philippou E. (2016). Mediterranean Diet, Cognitive Function, and Dementia: A Systematic Review of the Evidence. Adv Nutr. Sep 15;7(5):889-904. ↩
  2. Morris MC, Tangney CC, Wang Y, Sacks FM, Barnes LL, et al. (2015). MIND diet slows cognitive decline with aging. Alzheimers MIND diet slows cognitive decline with aging. ↩
  3. Hoffman L, Hutt R, Tsui CKY, Zorokong K, Marfeo E. (2020). Meditation-Based Interventions for Adults With Dementia: A Scoping Review. Am J Occup Ther. May/Jun 2020;74(3):7403205010p1-7403205010p14. ↩
  4. Cheng ST. (2016). Cognitive Reserve and the Prevention of Dementia: the Role of Physical and Cognitive Activities. Curr Psychiatry Rep. Sep;18(9):85. ↩
  5. Ibid. Cheng. (2016). ↩
  6. Okamoto T, Hashimoto Y, Kobayashi R. (2019). Effects of interval walking training compared to normal walking training on cognitive function and arterial function in older adults: a randomized controlled trial. Aging Clin Exp Res. Oct;31(10):1451-1459. ↩

 

Marc Grossman, Doctor of Optometry and New York State Licensed Acupuncturist is author of several books, including Natural Eye Care – Your Guide to Healthy Vision.  Since 1980 Dr. Marc Grossman has helped many people maintain healthy vision and even improve eyesight. He is best described as a Holistic Eye Doctor, dedicated to helping people with such conditions ranging from myopia and dry eyes to potentially vision threatening diseases as macular degeneration and glaucoma. His combined multi-disciplinary approach using nutrition, eye exercises, lifestyle changes and Chinese Medicine provides him with a wide array of tools and approaches to tackle difficult eye problems. Dr. Grossman founded the Rye Learning Center in 1980, a multidisciplinary center for learning problems, in 1996 co-founded Integral Health Associates in New Paltz, New York, and in 1999 co-founded Natural Eye Care, Inc. For more information go to www.naturaleyecare.com or call 845-255-8222.


Top 10 Tips to Protect Your Eyes from the Sun by Marc Grossman, OD, LAc

The skin and the eyes are the two parts of the body that get direct contact with the sun. The sun’s rays can burn the outer layers of the eyes, just as the rays can burn the skin. Sunglasses help your eyes filter light and they protect the eyes from ultraviolet light that may contribute to conditions such as-cataracts and macular degeneration.

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Vision Yoga by Marc Grossman O.D., L.Ac.

What is yoga? “Union” is the literal translation from sanskrit. Tradition tells us that there are several paths to union (not only physical postures) and the practice of them lead to mind, body and spirit integration. From my point of view, these facets of life combined together, enhance not only well-being, but physical health. Yoga leads us to a basic tenet of mind/body unity. If the mind is chronically ill-at-ease one’s physical health suffers. Conversely, if the body experiences ill health, then clarity and strength of mind are adversely impacted. Yoga practice can offset these negative consequences and restore physical and mental health..

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How to Fight Viruses by Michael Edson, MS, LAc and Marc Grossman, OD, LAc

What are the best ways to avoid catching a virus? The Centers for Disease Control tell us to wash our hands frequently and thoroughly. Wash for 20 seconds with soap and warm, running water. Avoid touching your face and eyes with dirty hands. If your doctor recommends a flu shot, listen to their advice, particularly relevant for elders and people with immunity concerns.

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Eye Floaters by Dr.Marc Grossman O.D. L.Ac.

Do tiny black shapes dance on your white living room wall? Do you see little black circles, lines or squiggles floating in your peripheral vision? Floaters are an appropriate name for these small dark shapes that appear before our eyes, because they do, indeed, float through your field of vision.

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Help Your Eyes on the Computer by Marc Grossman, OD, LAc

As we head towards spring, I look forward to moving past the darkness of the pandemic. Like you, I’ve had to adapt in many ways. I’ve found myself spending a lot more time on screens than ever before. Not coincidentally, a growing number of my patients have reported symptoms related to their increased use of screens, too.

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Can a Face Shield Protect My Eyes from Coronavirus/Covid 19? by Marc Grossman, O.D.

Many of us wear a mask to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but could eye protection such as a face shield also help? Science is close to proving connections between coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and the eye….

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The Effect of Stress on Our Eyes & Health

Chronic stress can, over time, overwork the adrenal system resulting in fatigue and poor circulation.  In turn, fatigue and poor circulation limit the ability of the body to deliver essential nutrients to the eyes. The retina and eye are extensions of the brain. It is therefore conceivable that “ophthalmologic” diseases may actually also be “brain” diseases in disguise, both of which depend on the vascular system.

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Glaucoma: An Integrative Medical Approach by Dr. Marc Grossman, OD, LAc

Glaucoma (chronic open angle) is the most common form of glaucoma, and is an insidious disease that can be difficult to detect until a significant amount of vision is lost. The reason it is so dangerous is that most people with glaucoma have no symptoms. Many feel no pain, and most have 20/20 visual acuity, although possibly only straight-ahead vision. But left untreated, glaucoma can slowly steal your peripheral vision until you think you’re peering through a tunnel (at best) or until you go blind (at worst).

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Top Tips for Helping Dry Eyes by Marc Grossman, OD, LAc

The innermost layer of the surface of the eye is an aqueous mucous layer that forms the bulk of the tears, and contains electrolytes, a variety of proteins, and water. This layer is vital to a stable ocular surface, since it allows the tear film to actually adhere to the eye. Workers spending the most time on the computer have the lowest concentrations of an essential component of the mucous layer of the tear film, mucin 5AC, which contributes to their dry eye syndrome.

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