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Hearing loss can be caused by a number of factors. You know that loud noises can lead to hearing loss, and that the aging process affects your ears. Studies have shown that smoking, obesity, and heart disease can also be linked to hearing loss. Did you know that the foods you eat can also affect your ears?
Studying Nutrition and Hearing
A recent study carried out by researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston looked at nutrition and hearing to see how the foods we eat affect our ears. The study looked at survey responses from over 70,000 women collected between 1991 to 2013. They looked for correlations between diet and hearing, and examined at what each woman ate as well as their self-reported hearing loss. “We observed that those following an overall healthy diet had a lower risk of moderate or worse hearing loss,” explained Sharon Curhan, MD, author of the study, then added, “eating well contributes to overall good health, and it may also be helpful in reducing the risk of hearing loss.” The study demonstrated that women following a healthy diet were 30% less likely to have hearing loss!
Nutrition is one of the most important things when it comes to your overall health, but we rarely think that our diet affects our hearing. There are no foods that will specifically cause hearing loss, or prevent your hearing from deteriorating. However, eating a well-balanced diet, and making sure you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals, will have a huge impact on your overall health, as well as on the health of your ears and auditory system. The study found that the healthiest diets to reduce your risk of hearing loss are a Mediterranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. Both these diets favor eating vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, whole grains, seafood, and poultry. They also limit sodium intake, discourage eating processed or red meats, and restrict foods high in cholesterol or sugar.
Eating for Your Ears
Nutritious foods that are good for your health, and will decrease your risk of developing hearing loss include foods rich in folic acid, potassium, zinc, and magnesium.
Folic acid: To slow the onset of hearing loss, eat foods such as broccoli, asparagus, and spinach, which all contain folic acid. Folic acid slows hearing loss by breaking down homocysteine, an amino acid that can build up in the body and restrict blood flow to the ears. Regulating blood flow and keeping a constant supply of oxygen rich blood moving through the ear keeps your ear cells healthy and strong, and reduces the risk of hearing loss.
Potassium: This mineral is found in bananas, potatoes, spinach, and lentils. Potassium plays a big role in how the cells in your ear communicate and function, and helps your ears translate sound waves into electrical signals the brain can understand. Potassium levels often drop as we age, so eating a diet high in potassium will help you hears, and reduce your risk of hearing loss.
Zinc: Foods high in zinc include almonds, cashews, legumes, seeds, and dark chocolate. Zinc helps manage tinnitus, that ringing of buzzing sound you hear in your ears, and keeps your ears healthy.
Magnesium: This mineral combat free radicals, or atoms that are emitted when there are very loud noises. Free radicals damage your inner ear, but magnesium can protect your ears from this additional damage.
What Happens When You’re Not Eating Healthy?
If you’re not getting the right vitamins and minerals in your diet, you could face malnutrition, and risk damaging your hearing. Diabetes is closely linked with hearing loss, and even those with prediabetes have a 30% increased risk of developing hearing loss. When you’re not getting the nutrition your body needs, you’ll suffer from more damage to the blood vessels and nerves in the inner ear, and risk hearing loss. Your auditory system in the brain also suffers when you eat a nutrient-deficient diet.
Hearing Health in Portland
Have you noticed any changes in your hearing health? Take a closer look at your diet and make sure you’re eating a balanced diet with all the right vitamins and minerals you need for clear hearing. Then visit us at Hearing Health in Portland to treat your hearing loss, and enjoy great hearing.