kris ulland

Your Nutrition Partner

I just learned that it doesn’t matter how dark your sunglasses are.  All that matters is that your sunglasses block out 99-100% of the UV rays.

Your pupil, the black dot at the center of your eye, controls how much light gets in. When you wear darkened lenses, the pupil opens more to let in more light. If your sunglasses aren’t rated to block UV rays, you might let even more UV rays into the back of your eye.

Price also doesn’t matter; inexpensive sunglasses do the same job as the expensive brands.  Look for a sticker or tag advertising UV protection.

“Also, polarization has nothing to do with UV protection,” says Dr. Rebecca Taylor, a Nashville-based ophthalmologist and a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Polarized glasses reduce glare at the beach, in the snow, or out on the water. But they don’t take the place of UV protection. You might see better through them when there’s tons of light around. But they can make it harder to see things like computer screens, smartphones, or dashboards.

The size of the lenses does make a difference. “The bigger the better,” Taylor says. “With little, round John Lennon glasses, you get scattered rays coming in from all sides.” A 2018 study from Swiss researchers found that large sunglasses blocked more UV rays than smaller ones, and that UV-blocking goggles offered the most complete protection.

According to a 2014 study funded by the U.S. National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, UV radiation can damage proteins in the eye’s lens. Over time, this damage can raise a person’s risk for cataracts, which impair vision.

“When you don’t wear protection, ultraviolet radiation you cannot see is penetrating the eye, and the eye structures are very sensitive to it,” . The back of the eye, called the retina, has a delicate central area known as the macula. “If you put a target in the center of the retina right behind the pupil, the macula would be the bull’s-eye,” Taylor explains. “And when light comes into the eye, it hits that macula like a laser beam.” The macula helps you see detail clearly. It’s part of the retina, which sends signals to your brain to translate light into images. The blue and violet parts of the sun’s rays can also hurt your retina.

The risks of sun-related eye damage are greater at certain times of the day and in certain settings. Water, snow and car windshields can reflect light into the eyes, and spending time on a boat, around snow, or in a vehicle on a sunny day “is like getting a double dose of ultraviolet light,” says Dr. C. Stephen Foster, a professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School. “You’re getting the direct exposure from the sun and a second exposure from the reflected light.” Also, at higher altitudes the sun’s rays are stronger, and the attendant eye risks increase.

The front part of your eye, where your cornea and lens are, get damaged by another type of UV radiation called UVB rays. UVB rays are responsible for producing sunburn. Eyes can get sunburn. The UVB rays also play the greatest role in causing skin cancers, including the deadly black mole form of skin cancer (malignant melanoma).

Wear sunglasses to avoid:

Photokeratitis. This condition is like a sunburn of the eye. It’s caused by a large amount of eye contact with UV rays in a short time. The sun’s rays can bounce off sand, snow, water, and ice. Be careful with light reflecting off pools or the ocean. You can also get a type of photokeratitis called “snow blindness” while outside in a snowy and icy place. Symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Blurriness
  • Eyes tearing up
  • Gritty feeling in your eyes
  • Sensitivity to bright light
  • Seeing halos

Your symptoms may get more intense the longer your eyes are hit by UV rays. But the problems typically go away and don’t permanently damage your eyes.

Cataracts. Many years of being out in the sun with UV rays hitting your eyes can cause this disease that makes the lenses in your eyes cloudy.

Symptoms can include:

  • Blurriness
  • Seeing two images instead of one
  • Sensitivity to bright light
  • Hard to see well at night, or needing more light to read
  • Bright colors looking faded or yellow

The only way to remove cataracts is with surgery.

Macular degeneration. Like cataracts, you’re more likely to get this disease if your eyes are hit by UV ray over long periods of time. It is also genetic.

There are times of the day when shielding your eyes behind sunglasses may not be a good idea. Studies have shown that light-sensing photoreceptors in the eye help to set the body’s circadian clocks, which play a role in regulating sleep and appetite. Research has found that people who get “high levels” of bright light in the morning tend to sleep better than those who don’t. And wearing sunglasses early in the day may interfere with these processes.

Ophthalmologists suggests going without sunglasses until 9 or 10 a.m. Assuming a person isn’t staring straight at the sun, its rays aren’t strong enough in the morning to cause much damage, and exposing the eyes to natural light can help set the body’s internal clocks.

You should also look for these things when shopping for sunglasses:

  • Stop 75% to 90% of visible light
  • Sunglasses that block 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB
  • Lenses with the same level of darkness. If the lenses go from light to dark, the darkest part should be on top and the change should be slow.
  • Lenses that don’t change your view so that it’s unnatural
  • Lenses that are gray, so you can see colors correctly
  • A frame that is close to your eyes and fits the shape of your face well

Get sunglasses for the kids you know. And be sure they wear them, sunny or not.

A 2014 survey by the American Academy of Ophthalmology found that only 32% of parents make their kids wear sunglasses that are rated to block UV light.

Whenever you are wondering if you should be using sunscreen, you should be wearing sunglasses too. Kids start accumulating sun damage just as soon as there’s exposure.

Foods for eye health:

  • Seeds
  • Citrus fruits
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Water
There are things you can do to help keep your eyes healthy and make sure you are seeing your best:
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Get regular exercise
  • Wear sunglasses
  • Wear protective eye wear
  • Avoid smoking
  • Know your family medical history
  • Know your other risk factors

Camu Camu

The camu camu berry comes from the camu camu shrub (Myrciaria dubia), a small tree that’s a member of the myrtle (Myrtaceae) plant family.  An average serving of camu camu has around 50 times more vitamin C, 10 times more iron and three times more niacin than an orange.

Myrciaria dubia is related to the rumberry and guavaberry plants. Each wild shrub can yield around 26 pounds of berries per year. The berries, which are yellowish/red, tend to be very sour, which is why they are commonly ground into a powder and mixed with other foods, rather than eaten on their own.

Camu camu benefits include supporting inflammation, gum and eye health, and treating herpes, low moods, and much more.

Camu camu is full of phytochemicals, minerals and amino acids like serine, leucine and valine. It also contains an estimated 355 micrograms of carotenoids, mostly lutein, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin.

According to the Heal With Foods website, 100 grams of camu camu fruit (Myrciaria dubia) contains:

  • 0.4 grams protein
  • 0.2 grams fat
  • 2145 milligrams vitamin C (3575 percent DV)
  • 2.1 milligrams manganese (106 percent DV)
  • 0.2 milligrams copper (10 percent DV)
  • 0.5 milligrams iron (3 percent DV)
  • 12.4 milligrams magnesium (3 percent DV)
  • 15.7 milligrams calcium (2 percent DV)
  • 83.8 milligrams potassium (2 percent DV)
  • 0.4 milligrams zinc (2 percent DV

Along with having the highest levels of vitamin C on the planet, camu camu also has other antioxidants like polyphenols and ellagic acid. Together, these nutrients can help you recover from the common cold or flu.

The nutrients from camu camu can also support gut health and block free radicals and other pathogens from entering the body, providing protection against bacterial infections, viruses and other issues.

Additionally, a 2018 animal study even found that camu may help prevent obesity by positively altering the gut microbiota (highly tied to immune function) and by increasing energy expenditure. Several studies found that camu could lead to lowered fat accumulation and blunted metabolic inflammation, leading to improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity.

These antioxidants and phytochemicals benefit the liver in several ways. The high vitamin C content improves liver health. For individuals with liver diseases like cirrhosis, the administration of vitamin C has shown positive outcomes. Research in 2010 showed that animals given camu camu powder showed significant signs of liver injury suppression. Specifically, an active compound called 1-methylmalate was isolated from Myrciaria dubia juice.

Camu camu berries’ high levels of vitamin C may help your brain to produce more serotonin, which will enhance your mood. Camu camu may act as a potential remedy for depression. In fact, research suggests people who have a deficiency in vitamin C often feel more depressed and lackadaisical. Vitamin C is an important cofactor required for the conversion of tryptophan to 5-hydroxytryptophan in serotonin production.  In a study conducted at Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital, it was shown that many of the patients who had decreased levels of vitamin C reported signs of sluggishness and depression. When given doses of vitamin C, they all responded with rapid and clinically significant improvement in mood.

The powerful antioxidants and antiviral components of camu camu can fight against gum diseases like gingivitis. Some gum disease sufferers have report experiencing great results from taking two teaspoons of camu camu powder per day. Having healthy gums is also important since gum health is directly linked with heart health.

Myrciaria dubia has been studied for its possible ability to help slow and improve the aging process. It’s powerful antioxidants may help reduce oxidative stress, particularly in the elderly or among those with chronic pain. Nutrients in camu have also been found to help reduce inflammation such as by lowering inflammatory markers including interleukin (IL-6) and high sensitive C-reactive protein (hsCRP).

Inflammation is a major root cause of many age-related diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and arthritis. Camu camu berries are believed to act as powerful anti-inflammatory foods that help protect the heart and arteries against thickening and hardening (a risk factor for heart disease), while also improving blood sugar levels and insulin response. A 2018 study also found that camu could help improve vasodilation and blood pressure among young adults.

Camu camu fruit can also have a positive effect on eye issues like macular degeneration, which becomes more common with an increase in age. Vitamin C and other essential nutrients can slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration and visual acuity loss. Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people over age 55 in the Western world and the number of people with age-related macular degeneration is expected to triple by 2025. (Wear your sunglasses!)

How to Buy

The easies way to incorporate camu camu into you diet is in powder form.

Sunfood Super Foods –  Raw, Organic. 100% Pure Camu Camu Super Berry. No Fillers, Additives or Preservatives. Great for Drinks, Juices, Smoothies. 3.5 oz Bag

Organic Camu Powder – from Navita

In addition, you can find this fruit in pill form or as a juice, similar to acerola cherry or acai berry. The powder is easiest to find at stores and it is available online. Some studies have found positive effects using about 0.3 cups of camu juice daily.

Some people also experiment with using skin cream, serums or skin masks made with camu because of the antioxidant and brightening effects of vitamin C. When used in oil form on the scalp, it can also boost the health of your hair.

How to Store

Raw Camu Camu Powder has a shelf life of two to three years.

  • Avoid exposure to heat. The powder will remain fresh if stored at room temperature or below.
  • Avoid exposure to direct sunlight.
  • Squeeze all of the air out of the bag before sealing.
  • Seal the bag tightly after each use.
  • Store the powder in a dry place, and avoid all contact with moisture.

How to Cook

The most popular form is camu camu powder, which is added to drinks and smoothies, or mixed with foods like oatmeal and yogurt. It can also be sprinkled on other types of cereals or used in baked goods, although cooking it at high temps may destroy some of the phytonutrients.

In recent years, it’s also been used in ice creams, frozen yogurts, popsicles and other sweets not only for the tart taste, but for its coloring capabilities.

  • Camu camu berries can be very tart and unpleasant in terms of taste, so powdered versions are most popular as supplements.
  • Camu camu powder dosage recommendations vary, but a typical dosage is about 1-3 teaspoons of powder per day. More than this may provide too much vitamin C and lead to side effects. When purchasing powder or supplements, always look for the correct species name Myrciaria dubia.

Camu Camu Superfood Smoothie

Lyn Croyle/ Cook Eat Live Love

2 Servings

Ingredients

  • ½ cup non-dairy yogurt
  • ½ cup almond, oat, or coconut milk
  • ½ cup banana, frozen
  • ½ cup berries, frozen (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries or mixed berries)
  • ½ cup beets, cooked and frozen
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • 2 teaspoon camu camu powder

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.
  • Add more ice if desired.
Tips for Making Camu Camu Smoothies:

Make camu camu smoothie with frozen berries, beets and bananas for a smoothie with a shake-like frozen consistency.

Use super ripe bananas when making smoothies. Bananas get sweeter as they ripen so the riper they are the more sweetness they provide to the smoothie.

This superfood smoothie relies on the banana for all the sweetness and there is no added sugar.

Resources

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