Foods with a High Glycemic Index May Increase Risk of AMD

January 04, 2012
Person Cutting Vegetables
A research team led by Tufts University found that consumption of foods with a high glycemic index — foods such as white bread and white rice, which quickly raise a person’s blood sugar — may accelerate the development of retinal changes, including unhealthy lesions and deposits, which are precursors to age-related macular degeneration (AMD). While the study was conducted in mice, the investigators believe the results may translate to humans.

Previous research studies have shown that a diet rich in low glycemic index foods — including most fruits and vegetables, nuts and legumes — reduces the risk of heart disease, kidney disease and type 2 diabetes in humans. Foods that do not cause a spike in blood sugar are easier for the body’s cells to process and absorb.

“The results of the Tufts study are consistent with what clinical studies have suggested — that eating lots of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of AMD,” says Stephen Rose, Ph.D., chief research officer, Foundation Fighting Blindness. “While we often prefer human studies for understanding human disease, researchers in this animal study were able to more tightly control the diet of the subjects and, at the same time, more closely investigate retinal changes in them. That helped validate the results.”

Dr. Rose adds that fruits and vegetables may also help decrease the risk of AMD, because of their anti-oxidative properties, which reduce the damage caused by normal wear and tear on the body and unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as smoking.

Results of the Tufts study were published online on December 28, 2011, in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science.

For more information on the glycemic index and making healthy dietary choices, visit www.glycemicindex.com.