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Ask Dr. Mike: Eating Colors for Your Health & Supplements to Ease Glaucoma

Here you'll find the answers to a wealth of health and wellness questions posed by Healthy Talk fans.

Listen in because what you know helps ensure healthy choices you can live with. Today on Healthy Talk, you wanted to know:

My dad has glaucoma (open-angle) with increased ocular pressure. What supplements can he take for decreased eye pressure?

Some supplements that Dr. Mike recommends are pine bark extract, pycnogenol, lutein, zeaxanthin, EGCG, vitamin A, vitamin E, and forkscolin.

I saw a Facebook post by health activist, David Wolfe. He said, "eat colors for your health." He also said white foods are good for the immunity, yellow foods are good for the skin, orange foods are good for inflammation, red foods for the heart, purple foods for the nerves, and green foods for the toxification. What are your thoughts?

Dr. Mike thinks this can make some sense. For example, white foods like mushrooms are really great for your immunity. Yellow foods might be considered wheat, grains, yellow squash that benefit your skin. For the color orange, foods like oranges and carrots are great for your skin. For the color red, foods like pomegranates and apples are packed with antioxidants that are great for your heart. Purple foods like blueberries benefit your nerves. Any kind of leafy greens are great for cell health and detoxing.

If you have a health question or concern, Dr. Mike encourages you to write him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call in, toll-free, to the LIVE radio show (1.844.305.7800) so he can provide you with support and helpful advice.

RadioMD Presents:Healthy Talk | Original Air Date: May 13, 2015
Host: Michael Smith, MD

Radio MD. It's time to ask Dr. Mike. Do you have a question about your health? Dr. Mike can answer your questions. Just email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call now 877.711.5211. The lines are open.

DR MIKE: Alright, so I have two questions that I want to get through in this next segment. So, I'm going to really watch my time because I think both are really awesome questions and important ones, too.

This first one is about glaucoma. And if you don't know, glaucoma is increased intraocular pressure. You know, you have this fluid, obviously, in your eye and that fluid has to come in the eye and then get out of the eye and there has to be a good drainage system. Just like in your house, if there is a pipe that's not working well, that's clogged, things back up and that water that's now in your sink adds pressure to the sink itself.

In a closed system like the eye, it's a globe, any increased fluid raises pressure quite significantly and the retina and the optic nerve that's feeding the retina are very sensitive to that pressure. It can cause a lot of damage and eventually even blindness.

So, here's the question:
"My dad has glaucoma (open angle)." There's two types of glaucoma, open angle and closed angle. Open angle is the most common form. So, "My dad has open angle glaucoma with increased intraocular pressure. What supplements can he take to decrease eye pressure? Thanks for your show. Diane."

The conventional treatment for this is tough. Usually in the open angle glaucoma, first of all, they just watch it and if the intraocular pressure gets to a point that's too wide then they put little stents in there to dry the eye better but those get clogged up and often what you see is people who are having to go in and out of these little surgical procedures to have those little new pipes cleaned and de-clogged. So, unfortunately, the conventional treatment is not all that great.

But there are some supplements. There are some research-based supplements looking at intraocular pressure and showing some benefit and I think the first one that comes to mind is pine bark extract.

The traditional name of that in the industry is "pycnogenol". Most people, I think, are familiar with this in terms of maybe like cholesterol management, blood pressure management, that kind of stuff. But pycnogenol coming from pine bark has been shown to decrease intraocular pressure. It's not powerful. It's one of the situations where if the glaucoma is caught early and you start something like pycnogenol early, maybe 10-20 milligrams a day, you might be able to control that pressure and never have to go for that stent procedure. But that's one option.

To be honest with you, that was the only one from the top of my head that I could remember.

So, I did some more research and found your classic pigmented antioxidants, like lutein, zeaxanthin, meso-zeaxanthin, you'll find those in most eye-care products. These are naturally-occurring antioxidants and we call them pigmented because they look yellowish and reddish under a microscope and they absorb blue light which is the most damaging light and they get rid of--they reflect--the yellows and the reds and that's why they look yellow and red. Those antioxidants are great for decreasing oxidative stress in the eye which can cause macular degeneration which is a leading cause of blindness in people over 65.

But they also have an effect of just keeping the retina healthy, the optic nerve healthy and in the context of glaucoma, I didn't really see in the research that they were decreasing intraocular pressure. I think it's more of a protective effect because these are great eye antioxidants. There's some evidence for the antioxidant EGCG found in green tea, at 1000 mg a day and, obviously, natural vitamin E and natural vitamin A, also play a role there.

Then, there is a plant extract called forskolin. It's been around for decades. I guess it was popular maybe a few decades ago but forskolin is just an anti-inflammatory. It has some antioxidant properties and, again, it's listed in a lot of medical journals, in a lot of websites, natural websites as a potential supplement for glaucoma.

So, pine bark, pigmented antioxidants, green tea, natural vitamin E and natural vitamin A, and forskolin.

Question number two. I just like this one. I'm going to enjoy doing this and I'm doing this right off the cuff. I saw the question and I just left it there. I'm just going to answer it as best as I can right just from my memory, from my experience.

So, here's the question. I saw a Facebook post by health activist, David Wolfe. And I'm not familiar with him. That said, "Eat colors for your health." And in this post, he said white foods are good for the immunity, yellow foods are good for the skin elasticity, orange foods are good for inflammation, red foods for the heart, purple foods for the nerves, green foods for detoxification. What are your thoughts? Can you place a food with each color? Or compound with each color known to give that benefit?

This is going to be interesting. Well, okay. The white one is easy. Mushrooms. Technically speaking, not all mushrooms are white. I get it. Reichi is a classic mushroom for immune health and it is not really white. It's actually more reddish brown. So, maybe I'm not starting off all that great. But there are other white ones like coriolus - really cool looking mushroom that's kind of white. Coriolus has a lot of immune boosting properties, anti-cancer properties. So, mushrooms in general.

We know they're not all white. So, I'm cheating a little. Fudging it. So, apparently, David Wolfe said yellow foods are good for the skin. Yellow food. Okay. Well if it's good for the skin, we're talking ceramides, wheat, grains. They're kind of yellowish, right? Golden. This is harder than I thought. Yellow squash, vitamin A. You know, vitamin A is a yellowish to orangish color and that's good for the skin.

Orange. He says it's good for inflammation so that's a tougher one. The orange, like the yellows, have the carotenoids so vitamin A is good for inflammation. The orange-colored foods, I would also say because they're high in vitamin A are going to be good for anything that has a mucosal lining so lung and gut, vessels, stuff like that.

So, inflammation within the lung, guttural vessel, sure. Yes, orange foods, oranges, carrots. Red – heart. Pomegranate. Absolutely. That's the easy one. Pomegranate, a lot of good antioxidants, good for blood pressure, improving endothelial health, which is stuff that lines the inside--the lining of the artery.
Purple foods, nerves. Blueberries. Blueberries aren't blue. They're actually purple.

They're great for your brain, right? And, zucchinis. Anything like that. The deep dark, what look like blues are really purples. Awesome for the vitamins. There you go. That one I could do, too. Green, leafy greens. You know, any leafy green is good for detox. So health - cruciferous vegetable. Not quite the leafy greens but still green.

So, yes. Plant-based foods are just wonderful for proper cell division, detoxification. How about this one? Artichoke which is kind of green. Great to decongest the liver.

That's a good one. There you go. I did pretty good. Alright, this is Healthy Talk on Radio MD. I'm Dr. Mike. Stay well.