When thinking about nutrition, our eye health might be the last thing that generally comes to mind. We usually associate nutrition with weight, fitness, and internal health, but our eyes are greatly affected by the food we put in our bodies as well.
Certified holistic nutritional consultant, Mia Campbell of The Wellth, has dedicated her career to understanding the value of food and works to create dishes that are not only healthy but exciting, beautiful, and crave-worthy using only ingredients that bring value to the functioning of our bodies.
“When it comes to my food philosophy, I believe that we should be able to enjoy all of the things we love. After all, who wants to deprive themselves of the things that bring us joy (cookies, included)!” says Mia. “With that being said, I know that what we eat directly affects our mood, function of our digestive tract, energy levels, hormonal health, appetite, physical and mental wellbeing … and SO MUCH MORE!”
Eating nutritious food doesn’t mean you are on a diet, eating only salads, or never eating cake again! Mia believes that it’s all about ensuring the ingredients you use are helpful to your body instead of harmful.
“Start by asking questions. Ask yourself questions about the current foods you eat, where they come from and how they make you feel. The answers will help you reflect and understand what foods are supporting your health and bringing you closer to your health-related goals and what foods might be hindering your overall feeling of wellbeing,” says Mia.
“It is my goal to show people how they can enjoy all of their favourite foods and recipes but by making simple Wellth approved ingredient swaps, they can replace anti-nutritious ingredients with their better-for-you or more nutrient-dense alternatives without compromising flavour or texture. Not only will these better-for-you ingredients enhance the nutrient profile of recipes, but they’ll also support your health and wellness.”
So what are some nutrients that will be most valuable for our eye health? Mia has outlined for us the nutrients as well as where we can find those in the foods we eat.
Beta-carotene (Carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, butternut squash)
Bioflavonoids or Flavonoids (Tea, citrus fruits, blueberries, cherries, legumes, soy products)
Lutein and Zeaxanthin (Dark green leafy vegetables such as collard greens, turnip greens and spinach, broccoli, peas, kiwi, red grapes, yellow squash, oranges, corn, mangoes and honeydew melon) *Your body needs fat to absorb lutein and zeaxanthin, pair them with a healthy fat, avocado or nuts/seeds.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring, fish oil supplements, ground flaxseeds, walnuts, almonds, olive oil)
Selenium (Seafood, Brazil nuts, fortified breakfast cereals, brown rice)
Vitamin A (Beef or chicken liver; eggs, butter, milk)
Vitamin C (Peppers [red or green], kale, strawberries, broccoli, oranges, cantaloupe)
Vitamin D (Salmon, sardines, mackerel, milk; orange juice fortified with vitamin D. The best source of vitamin D is exposure to sunlight)
Vitamin E (Almonds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts)
Zinc (Oysters, beef, legumes, nuts and seeds, dairy, eggs, whole grains)
To help incorporate these ingredients into your everyday life, Mia suggests adding these ingredients to your morning smoothie or smoothie bowl. If you aren’t into smoothies, try adding some of these ingredients to a salad.
oats | add a little heartiness to your smoothie by blending quick oats into your smoothie. Not only will the addition of fibrous oats help you to feel satiated throughout the morning, but they also contain vitamin A, which is essential for eye health. Start off with 1/4 cup and ensure you do not use steel cut oats as they will not blend well.
ground flaxseed | add a little nuttiness to your smoothie with a tbsp of ground flaxseed. Not only will they amp up your smoothie with plant protein and fibre, but ground flaxseeds are also a source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation in the body.
spinach | we could all use more greens, so why not pack them into your smoothie?! Simply add in a handful of fresh or frozen spinach, you won’t even taste it, and reap the benefits. Spinach contains lutein, an antioxidant that has been shown to help absorb damaging UV light. And spinach is a superfood, being a source of folic acid, vitamin A, potassium, calcium, and B vitamins … to name a few!
chia seeds | Loaded with antioxidants, fibre, plant protein, and Omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds are a great addition to smoothies. Aside from their health benefits, chia seeds expand when wet, making them a great thickening agent for smoothies.
hemp hearts | top off your favourite smoothie bowl with hemp hearts. These little seeds contain both vitamins and minerals that are essential for overall health. A source of vitamin A, hemp hearts are good for eye, hair, skin and immune function.
“Remember, it’s not about being perfect all of the time (that’s impossible), instead it’s about creating a sense of awareness and knowledge base so that you can make informed choices about what you eat,” says Mia. “So what am I saying? You can have your cake and eat it too, just make sure it’s a dairy-free almond flour cake made with natural sweetener and topped with coconut whip!”