Earlier this year I went to the Life Lab Retreat and founder Justin Lord told me a fascinating story about his mum Jane.
In 2010 she was diagnosed with Macular Degeneration, an age related eye condition which can lead to blindness.
Jane was understandably concerned and along with her son started looking into what she could do to improve her eye health.
She started following a plant based diet and eight years on a new scan has shown that there has been no progression which is just amazing – her story appeared in the Daily Express and you can read it in full below, or take a look at the PDF.
WHEN Jane Lord discovered she was showing early signs of Macular Degeneration she was terrified of losing her sight.
During a routine eye test in 2010, scans showed a wavy line on her retina – an early indicator of the condition which leads to damage to the retina and loss of central vision and the leading cause of blindness in over 50s.
Determined to do all she could to save it, Jane, 73, and her son Justin, 42, a lifestyle coach and nutritionist, discovered eating a plant based diet could help.
She became vegan which she credits with saving her sight.
The former teaching assistant from Bracknell, Berkshire had worn reading glasses from her mid forties after being diagnosed as long sighted
She recalled: “Being told I had the early signs of Macular Degeneration (MD) in my left eye came as a shock.
“Over the years, my prescription changed a few times. But I put that down to the ageing process.
“I asked the optician what caused it and he said it was lack of free radicals. I asked if there was anything I could do and he said antioxidants would help.
“Emotionally I was upset and I couldn’t understand why it was happening. At the time, I was working at a school and I was often so busy I didn’t have time for lunch but I was generally very healthy.
“I didn’t want to just accept my eyesight was going to deteriorate.”
As Jane’s optician had mentioned the benefits of antioxidants for age related MD, she looked into the best foods to eat to boost eye health.
Her son Justin who runs lifelabretreat.com was studying for a Phd in nutrition and suggested she followed a plant based diet.
She said: “I’d always enjoyed lots of fruit and veg and had been vegetarian for 45 years but five years ago. Justin told me about the benefits of a diet rich in vegetables, nuts, fruits and seeds.
“We decided to follow a plant based diet for our health, and for animals and the planet too.
“I went every year for an eye test and each time it stayed the same. Then at my last test, he said he was going to check my eyes on a more modern scanner.
“He looked at the results and said, ‘It’s not there anymore.’ The white line in my eye was completely straight. If I had MD it would have been wavy. I was thrilled.”
Havinder Sembi, who treated Jane at Specsavers in Bracknell said: “I’m pleased Mrs Lord’s vision hasn’t got any worse, and whether her healthy diet and high intake of antioxidants has made a difference or not isn’t something we can definitely say, but the main thing is the eyes haven’t changed in eight years which is a positive thing.”
Jane says that while her experience isn’t the same as a scientific study, she hopes sharing her story will help other people.
She said: “When we’re told our health is deteriorating, we can often think it’s because we’ve done something wrong, or accept a diagnosis and think there’s nothing we can do about it.
“I tell people what happened to me and they’re really surprised that my diet has had such an effect on my vision, but it really has.”
Diet before and after
Jane takes Vitamin D3 and B12 every day and speaking about her diet, she said: “Before I went plant based, I would usually have a slice of toast for breakfast, salad with halloumi for lunch and for dinner I’d maybe a vegetarian chilli or curry with more cheese.
“Cheese was my weakness! I would eat veg and salad but not in huge amounts.
“Now, I have really upped my intake. For breakfast I usually have a smoothie bowl made up of fruit and vegetables.
“I don’t have any dairy and use plant based milk, with blueberries, spinach, strawberries and bananas and topped with chia seeds and fresh fruit.
“Lunch will be a large salad with quinoa. Dinner is a large plate of chopped and grated raw vegetables, so carrots, beetroot, leaves, raw broccoli and cauliflower, tomato and onions.”