When you think “hearing protection,” images like earplugs or noise canceling headphones may come to mind. Did you know that a diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables could make a huge difference in protecting your hearing as well? Foods that promote hearing health work by nourishing your body with essential vitamins and minerals. While they’re not a magical cure for hearing loss or can guarantee against hearing loss, these nutrients can help play a role in protecting your ears. While scientists have long suspected a connection between the nutrients you eat and healthy hearing, a recent study helps prove the benefits of eating right.
A Study in Healthy Eating
A study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital has found that eating a healthy diet may reduce the risk of acquired hearing loss. Researchers examined changes in hearing sensitivities and found that women whose eating patterns more closely followed commonly recommended healthy dietary patterns, such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, the Alternate Mediterranean (AMED) diet, and the Alternate Healthy Index-2010 (AHEI-2010), had a much lower risk of decrease in hearing ability.
“A common perception is that hearing loss is an inevitable part of the aging process. However, our research focuses on identifying potentially modifiable risk factors — that is, things that we can change in our diet and lifestyle to prevent hearing loss or delay its progression,” said lead author Sharon Curhan, MD, a physician and epidemiologist in the Brigham’s Channing Division of Network Medicine. “The benefits of adherence to healthful dietary patterns have been associated with numerous positive health outcomes and eating a healthy diet may also help reduce the risk of hearing loss.”
What to Eat
If you are interested in hearing better it is best to make sure you are eating a healthy diet rich with vegetables, nuts, and consuming fatty and processed foods to a minimum. Here are just a few foods that are good for your hearing and the nutrients that make it possible:
- Beans and leafy greens – Folate High folate intake is associated with a decreased risk of age-related hearing loss. Up your intake with top folate sources like spinach, kale, Romaine lettuce, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils
- Avocado, dark chocolate, whole grains – Magnesium Magnesium is known for its neuroprotective effects, including its ability to help prevent or even treat hearing loss, especially when the damage is noise-induced. Its protective effects include preventing free radical damage and improving blood flow.
- Nuts and seeds – Zinc Since zinc has immune-boosting properties, it can help prevent issues like ear infections,
- Bananas, oranges, potatoes – Potassium Potassium regulates fluid in the body, and inner-ear fluids are crucial for hearing health.
- Flaxseed, walnuts, and fish – Omega 3s Getting enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet could prevent or delay the onset of age-related hearing loss. Fish oil is the most famous source, but if you are vegan or vegetarian, plant sources including walnuts, flaxseed and chia seeds.
A Study Over Two Decades
Using over 20 years of dietary intake information that was collected every four years beginning in 1991, the researchers investigated how closely participants’ long-term diets resembled some well-established and currently recommended dietary patterns, such as the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet. These dietary patterns have been associated with a number of important health outcomes, including lower risk of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, stroke and death as well as healthy aging. The team found that there was a 30 percent decrease in hearing loss for people who ate a diet that prescribed to the healthy patterns of the Mediterranean and DASH diet.
As for people in the study that ate further from the DASH and Mediterranean Diet, after only three years, 19 percent had hearing loss in the low frequencies, 38 percent had hearing loss in the mid-frequencies, and almost half had hearing loss in the higher frequencies.
Hearing Care Centers
If you suspect you are living with hearing loss, it’s never too late to start eating healthier. In the mean time it’s wise to treat your hearing loss before it gets worse. Contact us at Hearing Care Centers. We can help you find the best treatment for you hearing and keep you healthy into the glorious golden years of your life.