Lifestyle and Dietary Considerations
Both diabetic and hypertensive retinopathy can in part be prevented by lowering blood pressure. There are a number of dietary interventions that can help people lower their blood pressure. Reducing sodium intake is beneficial for some people, as too much sodium can cause the body to retain water, thus raising blood pressure. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and low-fat dairy can also help reduce blood pressure. Finally, consuming alcohol in moderation only and maintaining a healthy weight can help lower blood pressure (Kaplan 2013). Numerous strategies for maintaining a healthy blood pressure are outlined in the High Blood Pressure protocol.
Diabetics can also reduce their risk of developing diabetic retinopathy by improving their blood glucose control. Type 2 diabetics that use diet and exercise to achieve and maintain a healthy weight will often be able to lower their blood glucose and HbA1c levels (Bweir 2009). Other dietary strategies that can be beneficial include eating a consistent amount of carbohydrates at each meal, eating foods with a low glycemic index, and consuming alcohol in moderation only and with food. All of these interventions can help keep blood glucose levels down and help prevent complications of diabetes, including retinopathy (Delahanty 2013). Tight blood glucose control can also help reduce the risk of retinopathy in people with type 1 diabetes (Fraser 2013). Life Extension has outlined several strategies for controlling glucose levels in the Diabetes protocol.
Minimizing intake of AGE-rich foods is also advisable. The dietary burden of AGEs can be mitigated by high-moisture, low-heat, and prolonged-duration cooking methods such as boiling, steaming, or stewing. Grilling, broiling, or other cooking methods that employ intense, dry heat to quickly cook foods should be avoided, as these preparation methods promote AGE formation (Vlassara 2014).