Article

CLINICAL: NUTRITION

FOCUS ON ‘FOODNESS’

EDUCATE PATIENTS ON THE IMPORTANCE OF FOOD AND FITNESS

IT TURNS out that following a healthy lifestyle that includes proper nutrition, not smoking and frequent physical activity decreases the odds of developing AMD, reports an April 2011 Archives of Ophthalmology study. (See, “By the Numbers.”)

Specifically, the Carotenoids in Age-Related Eye Disease Study, also known as CAREDS, shows that post-menopausal women who had the combination of smoking cessation, healthier diets and frequent physical activity had a three-fold lower odds of developing early AMD through a six-year period.

Further, vigorous activity three times per week vs. no physical activity decreased the risk of progression from intermediate AMD to geographic atrophy, or advanced disease, in 25% of 261 study participants, reports a June 2003 Archives of Ophthalmology study.

Due to theses findings, among others, it makes sense to educate your AMD patients on the connection between physical activity and their ocular health.

Here, I explain how to accomplish this.

BROACH BMI

A discussion of weight loss is not an easy one to have, as body weight is very personal. To facilitate this discussion, mention how you don’t discriminate when discussing it, and talk about the research findings on BMI.

“Julie, I want to talk with you about something called BMI, or body mass index. I explain this measurement to all my patients because I want them to know that they do have some control over their AMD. Specifically, BMI is the ratio of weight to height. Research shows that an above normal BMI and a larger waist circumference, or waist to hip ratio, may increase the likelihood of disease progression. Further, these features can inhibit the body’s ability to absorb lutein and zeaxanthin, which are carotenoids and essential for the maintenance of a healthy retina. It’s also worth noting that a high BMI and waist circumference can increase the risk for Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which can lead to vision loss from retinopathy.”

Be sure to print BMI charts from an online resource or download an app to your smart phone, so you can give these important charts to patients.

By The Numbers

  • Less than 5%. Adults who participate daily in 30 minutes of physical activity.
  • 80%. American adults who do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.
  • 90%. Americans who eat more sodium than is recommended for a healthy diet.
  • More than 78 million. U.S. adults considered obese.

Courtesy: HHS.gov .

HAVE A HEART-TO-HEART

Next, educate these patients that AMD and cardiovascular disease share many of the same risk factors, including age, smoking, antioxidant levels, BMI and waist circumference, so they understand they have some control over both.

“Julie: If you practice good nutrition and engage in regular physical activity, you’ll not only be able to slow AMD progression, but also maintain a healthy heart. A healthy heart, healthy eyes and a healthy body are all connected.” OM