There is no doubt that the body is a complex system of systems. As researchers dig deeper into the causes of hearing loss and how to prevent it, they are finding that it may come down to more than just noise exposure. Our diet may play a key role in hearing health.
Several studies are now coming out linking healthy diets rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats in recommended amounts to a reduced risk of hearing loss.
Following these diets may be your best bet
Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital recently published results of a study about The Alternate Mediterranean diet (AMED), Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), and the Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 (AHEI-2010) and how they relate to hearing loss. A group of 70,966 women in the Nurses’ Health Study II was followed for 22 years. Researchers checked in with the group every four years about diet and hearing loss.
“Interestingly, we observed that those following an overall healthy diet had a lower risk of moderate or worse hearing loss,” said Sharon Curhan, MD, an epidemiologist in the Channing Division of Network Medicine at BWH, and first author of the study. “Eating well contributes to overall good health, and it may also be helpful in reducing the risk of hearing loss.”
While each of the diets studied follow slightly different guidelines, they are based on choices such as fruits and vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and fish. The DASH diet, designed to help people lower blood pressure (another potential hidden cause of hearing loss) is also low in sodium.
Don’t forget these foods
While a total diet made up of healthier choices plays a significant role in hearing health and wellness, there are also certain foods that can help. Foods like these can promote healthy blood flow (cardiovascular health), reduced inflammation in the body and support the inner workings of the ear for optimal performance.
- Folate – Researchers worked with over 3,000 people in the Blue Mountains Hearing Study and found that a folate deficiency can potentially restrict blood flow to the cochlea causing age-related hearing loss. To increase folate in your diet, opt for leafy greens such as spinach and kale, fortified breakfast cereal, legumes such as kidney beans and lentils and even beets.
- Omega 3 fatty acids – In the same Blue Mountains Hearing study, researchers also found a link between increased consumption of omega 3-rich fish and a lower risk of hearing impairment. To increase omega 3 fatty acids in your diet, opt for higher fat fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring, black walnuts and flaxseed oil.
- Potassium – This mineral is a must for regulating fluid throughout your body, including that in your inner ear so essential for transmitting the electrical impulses that help us hear. To increase potassium in your diet, opt for sweet and white potatoes, swiss chard, white beans and yogurt.
- Magnesium + Vitamins A, C, E – According to a recent study, these vitamins and mineral may help protect your hearing against loud noises. Working together they reduce free radicals that occur after noise exposure, preventing them from causing damage within the ear. To increase your intake of these vitamins and mineral, opt for avocados, nuts and seeds like almonds and sunflower seeds, whole grains, tofu, dark chocolate, raw red sweet peppers, Atlantic salmon, mackerel, eggs, sweet potato, guavas, kale and more.
Simple steps such as maintaining a healthy diet with foods like these can go a long way in preventing hearing loss down the road.
If you have questions about your hearing, contact our office to learn more about hearing evaluations, hearing aids and ways to help prevent hearing loss.