Take Me Down To The Carrot Eyes City!
It isn’t unusual for the question to arise as to whether regular carrot eating can help to improve eyesight, and I sometimes feel obligated to say that the answer can, in some ways, not only be categorically yes, but also undeniably no.
What is strange, however, is that the reasons they might not help, are often suggested as the reason they do, and the reasons that they could, are rarely mentioned at all. Sugar, as per usual, certainly won’t be getting very much of the credit it deserves.
It is fairly well known that women are a significant amount more likely to suffer from issues relating to eyesight, such as myopia or shortsightedness, than are men. Even though there are a number of explanations for why this may be, on some level they relate to overall metabolic function, which then comes back to a discussion about the activity of the hormones, in particular thyroid.
Although it doesn’t really make much sense, biologically speaking, to talk about matters regarding the proper function of the body, from cells to tissue including organs, without an understanding of the crucial role played by thyroid and energy systems, the sensitive and potentially vulnerable nature of the tissues of the eyes, make this subject all the more relevant.
Exposure to extreme or chronic levels of stress, regardless of whether it be environmental or nutritional or something else, can promote conditions which have a tendency to interfere with the ability of thyroid to function effectively.
This becomes especially true under circumstances where the degree of stress is consistently unable to be met with the provision of sufficient amounts of energy to maintain reasonably optimal performance, such as when sugar is being restricted.
Whenever glycogen stores become depleted, cortisol and adrenalin begin to rise, and this can then promote the release of numerous stress related and inflammatory substances, which directly suppress mitochondrial energy systems, and make the eyes more sensitive and susceptible to damage and degeneration.
Stress and the subsequent increase in adrenalin and cortisol directly and indirectly encourage the release of the free fatty acids into the blood to compensate for the lack of available glucose.
The increasingly polyunsaturated nature of these circulating fats is a significant factor in the creation of an inflammatory environment, which can eventually become chronic and systemic, contributing directly to the vulnerability of cells and tissue to damage arising out of interactions both with external and internal stressors.
The polyunsaturated fats powerfully interfere with thyroid and slow digestive function, providing more opportunity for bacteria to feed and multiply, potentially moving further and further up the intestines, promoting the secretion of endotoxin, and the subsequent release of serotonin.
As more of these substances pass through to the liver, it can become overloaded, reducing detoxification capability, allowing endotoxin and serotonin, as well as estrogen levels to rise systemically.
Experimental as well as epidemiological evidence has suggested a connection between damage and degeneration of the eyes, and increased levels of estrogen, serotonin, the polyunsaturated fats, as well as different degrees of hypothyroidism.
Women in general have a tendency to have more estrogen, often combined with a sluggish liver and a far greater frequency of thyroid related issues. This, in combination with greater amounts of active serotonin, can help to explain in part their susceptibility to myopia and other issues of the eyes.
Prolactin and melatonin, both of which are known to rise under conditions of stress, including darkness, and are closely linked to increasing levels of estrogen and serotonin, have been shown in numerous studies to promote problems with the eyes (particularly in combination with the polyunsaturated fats), including a susceptibility to damage from exposure to light that would not otherwise, be likely to be an issue.
The antimicrobial nature of the fibers in raw carrot have been shown to very effectively improve issues relating to excessive levels of bacteria and endotoxin release, as well as directly reducing estrogen and serotonin levels, preventing their absorption from the intestines.
This all also reduces the load placed on the liver, improving detoxification capabilities, further assisting in the removal of estrogen, and potentially allowing thyroid to function more efficiently, in order to protect against many of the inflammatory substances (including the excessive release of the polyunsaturated fats from storage) which all interact to increase the possibility of eyesight related issues.
Cooking or juicing carrots, on the other hand, not only reduces or eliminates the beneficial effects from the raw carrot fibers, but it can potentially, via the absorption of excessive amounts of beta carotene, cause and worsen the issues which it is intended to protect against.
Although it is true that Vitamin A (as well as some other vitamins and minerals) all play a role in healthy eye function, the idea that beta carotene will convert into vitamin A (sometimes referred to as retinol) is extremely misleading.
In reality, too much beta carotene (and for some that isn’t much at all) can be powerfully anti-metabolic, and particularly for women (as well as anyone with any issues arising out of a sub optimal metabolism), can add to the factors which are suppressing thyroid function, worsening many of the stress related issues discussed above, including those which are impacting upon eyesight.
As well functioning thyroid is crucial for the conversion of beta carotene into Vitamin A, the situation can become one in which carrot juice or plenty of cooked carrots can, rather than promote Vitamin A production, actually interfere with and prevent it.
The famous Ray Peat carrot salad, thinly slicing raw carrots to optimize surface area, thus increasing their anti-bacterial effects, washing off any excess beta carotene, and maybe adding a little coconut oil and salt and some vinegar, can be used between meals very effectively and therapeutically, every couple days or so possibly even more, to improve digestion and help in numerous ways with the detoxification of many thyroid suppressing substances, protecting against a large number of factors which can damage the eyes.
Although it is possible to achieve similar results with a diet removing the polyunsaturated fats, including sufficient protein and nutrients from milk and cheese and gelatinous meat, and plenty of sugar from sweet ripe juicy fruits, fruit juice, honey and white sugar, the inclusion of the occasional raw carrot can dramatically improve metabolism and help to attack some of the issues effecting the eyes.
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