It is commonly known that what we eat impacts our health. The benefits of eating well are widely known: greater energy, healthier immune system, improved digestion, etc. But did you know that healthier diets can reduce the risk of developing hearing loss? This is particularly important because hearing loss is the third most common, chronic condition that people experience today. Impacting nearly 48 million people, impaired hearing reduces the capacity to perceive and process sound which has multifaceted effects on daily life and health. Because hearing loss is a permanent condition, there is significant emphasis placed on prevention. Research shows that healthier eating patterns can protect your hearing health!
Impact of Diet on Hearing
Research shows that healthier diets can reduce the risk of developing hearing loss. This includes a significant 2019 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Researchers at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital studied the relationship between diet and hearing health. This study involved 81,818 participants who had their hearing health assessed and provided dietary information every 4 years for 22 years. Key findings include that people following healthy diets were:
- 25% less likely to develop high frequency hearing loss
- 30% less likely to develop mid-frequency hearing loss
This highlights a significant correlation between diet and hearing loss development. Additionally, it reveals that hearing loss is not an inevitable outcome of aging. Rather, there are risk factors that can be modified to lower the risk of hearing loss.
Researchers suggest that this lowered risk can be attributed to the health benefits of nutritious foods. Healthful diets reduce the risk of developing various medical conditions like cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, etc. which affect blood and oxygen flow throughout the body. These conditions also contribute to inflammation and other health complications that can impact the auditory system – the sensory system which involves the ears and brain which work together to perceive and process sound.
Nutrients that Boost Your Hearing Health
Researchers in the 2019 study analyzed the types of dietary patterns participants were following, which fell into established recommended diets including: Alternate Mediterranean Diet (AMED), Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI-2010). These diets emphasize whole foods, vegetables, fruits as well as limited intake of meat, alcohol, and dairy. Additionally, these diets typically recommend eliminating the intake of processed foods. They are also rich in specific nutrients that boost hearing health. This includes the following:
- Magnesium: helps provide a protective barrier for the hair cells in the inner ear. There are thousands of these hair cells which translate soundwaves into electrical signals that are carried to the brain. Foods high in magnesium include potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes, flax seeds, bananas, and artichokes.
- Potassium: helps maintain levels of fluid in the body. This includes the fluid in the inner ear which helps the hair cells translate soundwaves – a critical step in how we process and understand sound. Foods high in potassium include mushrooms, sweet potatoes, spinach, avocados, and cucumbers.
- Zinc: supports the healthiness of the body’s immune system as well as cell growth and healing sounds. This can help protect the ears from infection and the effects of accumulated bacteria in the ears. Foods high in zinc include lentils, beans, almonds, peanuts, pork, and beef.
- Folate: another nutrient that supports circulation throughout the body. This includes oxygen and blood flow to the ears which is needed to properly absorb and process soundwaves. Foods high in folate include kale, Brussels sprouts, chickpeas, peas, and sunflower seeds.
Diets that are packed with nutrients nourish overall healthiness. This reduces the risks of developing conditions that are associated with hearing loss as well as boosts hearing health.
Prioritize Your Hearing Health Today
Practicing ways to prioritize hearing health is integral to your overall health and wellness. Incorporating nutrients that boost hearing health is a helpful way to support your hearing. Integrating regular hearing assessments into your health routines is another useful way to stay on top of your hearing health. You can do this by calling us to schedule an appointment for a hearing test. At Hearing Healthcare Services we provide comprehensive services and individualized care that seeks to transform your health!