Superfoods for Cataracts?
NYC ophthalmologist says ‘vision superfoods’ can help prevent or treat this common condition
Cataracts, clouding of the lens inside the eye, are a natural part of aging. Most people have some degree of cataract by their late 50s or early 60s. But Rudrani Banik, M.D., an integrative ophthalmologist and the founder of Envision Health NYC, says there’s a simple, natural way to delay the onset of cataracts or prevent them from progressing. It can be found the nearest farm stand or produce store.
Banik has specialized training in functional medicine, which is based on root-cause resolution through diet and lifestyle changes. Its tenet is Food is Medicine. When we consider how cataracts form, she says, the value of fruits and vegetables for prevention or treatment couldn’t be clearer.
“When we are young, the lens within our eye is made out of clear proteins,” Banik explains. “These clear proteins are vulnerable to damage from molecules known as free radicals. Free radicals are commonly found within our bodies and come many sources, including the sun’s ultraviolet rays, tobacco smoke, pollution and even the body’s normal process of using energy. Damage from free radicals, called oxidation, changes our lens proteins and makes them cloudy.”
Antioxidants—which include vitamins C and E; certain substances in plants, called flavonoids; and some minerals, like selenium—help slow down or prevent damage by neutralizing free radicals, Banik says. Studies from the United States, Japan and Sweden all have shown that a diet rich in foods with antioxidants may reduce the risk of developing cataracts.
While antioxidants are available as supplements, they are most beneficial when they come from a healthy diet, Banik says. In her e-book 6 Secrets to Eye Health, available for free download at her website, she discusses what she calls “vision superfoods,” specific vegetables and fruits that are nutrient-dense and extremely rich in antioxidants.
Many Conditions Treated
Cataracts aren’t the only condition Banik treats through her functional medicine approach—in fact, some of the conditions wouldn’t seem to have an obvious connection to ophthalmology.
“Since the founding of my practice, using customized nutritional and lifestyle interventions, I’ve helped hundreds of patients heal from life-altering conditions such as vision loss, migraines, and autoimmune disease.”
The underlying philosophy of functional medicine is that chronic disease is caused by clinical imbalances within organ systems in the body. After these imbalances are identified through root-cause analysis, tailored treatment strategies are used to rebalance the body.
When Banik sees a new patient, she makes a medical diagnosis by listening carefully to the patient’s medical and psychosocial history, documenting their lifestyle choices and medicinal interactions.
Then she develops a treatment plan that prioritizes natural preventive strategies rather than prescription medications, which treat symptoms but don’t necessarily address the root cause of the problem.
“I empower my patients to take an active role in their own health,” she says. “I arm them with information and encourage them to work to improve how they feel. This approach allows patients who have been searching for solutions to their problems for years to finally have hope.”
Rudrani Banik, M.D., is an integrative ophthalmologist and the founder of Envision Health NYC, located at 136 East 57th St., Ste. 1502. To download her ebook 6 Secrets to Eye Health: Enjoy Clear Vision for a Lifetime, visit RudraniBanikMD.com.