The Link Between Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Gut Health
According to the Bright Focus Foundation, 11 million people in the United States have some form of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), and this number is expected to double to nearly 22 million by 2050; age is also an essential factor, since the risk of getting advanced age-related macular degeneration increases from 2% for those ages 50-59, to nearly 30% for those over the age of 75 . ARMD is also one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States.
With proper supplementation and diligence, ARMD can be preventable or even reversible to some degree. Most natural health physicians or doctors will recommend vitamins and nutrients and, in some cases, pharmaceuticals, but those products will be fruitless unless other aspects of your body’s health are rectified.
In this article, we will examine several aspects of repairing ARMD. *
Correcting ARMD is Possible
It is generally thought that because the eyes are delicate that once their function is hindered, it cannot be fixed. That is false. In his research, Dr. Stuart Richer demonstrated success in reversing macular degeneration in his lutein antioxidant supplementation trial (LAST) studies.
In 2004, Dr. Richer conducted a double-masked, placebo-controlled, randomized trial using lutein and antioxidant supplementation to see if the nutrients could reverse ARMD . He found the supplementation was successful and performed several more studies; I have references two more below  . In his studies, Richer even noticed that lutein and zeaxanthin supplementation refilled the macula and helped people who were losing their eyesight.
Healthmasters' Eyesight product contains many of these compounds, including zinc, taurine, NAC, bilberry extract, ALA, Quercetin, Lutein, and Lycopene. I also review additional supplements to promote eye health in the article "Supplements for Eye Health"; however, it is imperative to target other aspects of the body's health for supplements to be effective, as noted in the rest of this article.
The Gastrointestinal (GI) Tract
If doctors were hard pressed to choose the most critical area of the body for optimal health, most would note the GI tract. When operating at its best, the GI tract has the potential to affect the entire body positively. For example, a well-functioning GI tract influences eye health because when someone is sick, their GI health if not at its best, and consequently, the person commonly has red or puffy eyes. The eyes will also turn yellow or jaundiced with the liver is sick and will turn red when the gut is allergic to something it is digesting. This signals that the GI tract and the eyes are closely interrelated.
Additionally, the absorption of supplements and nutrients that are taken for ARMD and eye health can be hindered by the presence of Helicobacter pylori bacteria and the imbalance of intestinal bacteria overall. This means you can supplement with all the nutrients you want, but they will do little to no good if the GI tract is not healthy because they cannot be broken down or micellized.
Dr. Jyotsna Chauhan, professor of nanotechnology at the University of Technology of Madhya Pradesh, India, discusses the importance of micelle formation regarding nutrient absorption. Chauhan explains, “Micelle formation is essential for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and complicated lipids within the human body. Bile salts formed in the liver are secreted by the gallbladder allow micelles of fatty acids to form. This allows the absorption of complicated lipids (e.g., lecithin) and lipid soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) within the micelle by the small intestine” [5, p. 366].
Many of the nutrients taken for eye health are fat soluble, such as lutein, zeaxanthin, and carotenoids. Therefore, without proper micellization, nutrients cannot be adequately absorbed, and many times, a gut cleanse is needed to reset and help facilitate micellization.
Step 1: What needs to be removed?
In this step, think about what needs to be removed from the gut. This can include food toxins, gastric irritants, e.g., caffeine, alcohol, certain pharmaceuticals, food allergens, and chronic, low-grade infections, e.g., yeast and parasites. Healthmasters offers specific products that can help facilitate this step, such as the Parasite Cleanse, Detoxificant, and GHI Cleanse.
Step 2: What needs to be replaced?
In this step, think about what beneficial compounds need to be replaced. This can include stomach acid compounds and digestive enzymes. Healthmasters offers specific products that can help facilitate this step, such as the Digestive Enzyme Blend and Gastragest.
Step 3: What needs to be reinoculated?
In this step, think about the beneficial bacteria that need to be replaced back into the gut to promote a healthy balance of microflora. Healthmasters offers many probiotic products with various dosages, including the Probiotic DF, Probiotic 100 Billion, and Probiotic 350 Billion.
Step 4: What needs to be repaired?
In this step, think about what needs to be repaired in the GI tract. This can include the gut wall and lining or the gut’s immune function. Healthmasters offers specific products that can help facilitate this step, such as the L-Glutamine and GHI Cleanse.
This four-step process provides a very holistic approach to fostering optimal gut health.
After the cleanse is performed, it can be beneficial to further supplement with ox bile, lecithin, and taurine, as each of these also helps to facilitate micellization.
After the cleanse is performed and balance is restored, fat-soluble eye supplements, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, can be micellized so they can enter the bloodstream. Then, they will be transported to the eye by a “shuttle,” high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
Gallbladder and Liver
Bile acids are made from cholesterol in the liver and stored in the gallbladder, where they behave as an emulsifier and break up larger fat particles. This process is also part of the micelle formation and helps fat-soluble compounds, such as vitamin A, D, E, K, and beta-carotene, to be carried from the intestinal mucosa through the bloodstream and to the eyes. However, because these compounds can only be transported throughout the body in HDL particles because they are fat-soluble, it is paramount that HDL levels be 61 or higher.
Also, since the gallbladder plays a significant role in fat digestion and metabolization when people undergo cholecystectomy [gallbladder removal], they are at more substantial risk of fat-related ailments, such as dry skin, dry eyes, weight gain, gas, bloating, and improperly digested fats in their stools. This is because, without a gallbladder, fat cannot be adequately digested.
Half a million people a year undergo this surgery, even though the gallbladder can generally be reset with a gallbladder fast. For directions on how to perform a gallbladder fast, click here.
A gallbladder fast is essentially an oil change for the gallbladder that removes old, stasis bile and relieves symptoms in most cases. However, we are concerned explicitly with ARMD. For the nutrients taken for ARMD to be adequately absorbed, the fats in the gallbladder need to be broken down and useful, and a gallbladder fast can help facilitate this.
The Importance of HDL
Adequate levels of HDL particles are vital for this whole idea to work. Lutein and zeaxanthin are critical components that are used to rebuild and replenish the macula and are transported through the bloodstream by HDL particles. It is essential to maintain a healthy level of total cholesterol and at least an HDL measurement of 61.
Healthmasters offers two products that are great for promoting optimal cholesterol levels, such as Cholesterol-X and Vascular Relaxant. Exercise can also be useful, in addition to having a healthy weight, taking a resveratrol supplement (Healthmasters’ Resveratrol Plus), and quitting smoking.
Because there is a lot of information in this article, here is a summary.
- Set a goal to have your HDL level at a minimum of 61.
- Lose weight if needed, and take supplements that promote eye health. Check out Healthmasters’ Eyesight product.
- Cleanse the gut by doing the 4R program and/or a gallbladder fast twice a year to help promote healthy fat and lipid metabolism.
- Eat a diverse range of fruits and vegetables, as they will have various micronutrients for optimal eye health.
If you have questions about any of the products mentioned in this article, please feel free to call our office at 800.726.1834.
 Chauhan, J. (2019). Nanomaterial(Vol. 3). Shubham Vihar, Mangla, Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh: Educreation Publishing. ISBN: 978-93-88910-56-9.
* This article is for informational purposes only. By providing the information herein, Healthmasters and its associates are not diagnosing, treating, curing, mitigating or preventing any type of disease or medical condition. Before beginning any type of natural, integrative, or conventional treatment or regime, it is advisable to seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.