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A Healthy Diet Can Lower the Risk of Hearing Loss

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Dr. Timothy Teague, AuD

Dr. Teague earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Hearing, Speech and Language from Ohio University and his Doctoral Degree in Audiology from The University of Louisville. He is an active member of the American Academy of Audiology and the Ohio Board of Audiology.
Dr. Timothy Teague, AuD

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A healthy diet and proper nutrition are fundamental to every aspect of our health. It affects our heart, blood pressure, weight and well being to name a few. Now there is research that there is also a connection between our diet and healthy hearing. While there is no magic food that is guaranteed to prevent hearing loss or restore lost hearing but there is hope that a healthy diet will help. New research is suggesting that particular nutrition patterns may actually decrease your risk of developing hearing loss.

Hypertension, Cardiovascular Health and Diet

People suffering from high blood pressure could also suffer from hearing loss as a result of their medical condition. Likewise, heart disease is also inked to hearing loss. A healthy cardiovascular system, researchers have discovered, is healthy for the auditory system, too. Most heart disease is linked to blood vessel damage from high blood pressure (hypertension) and/or stiffened, narrowed arteries (arteriosclerosis) from high cholesterol. However, if high blood pressure and cardiovascular health are controlled with the right diet, an additional loss of hearing can be prevented.

A 22-Year Diet Study

Scientists have sought to prove whether certain dietary patterns might affect hearing. To investigate, a research team from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital analyzed questionnaire responses from about 71,000 women who took part in the 22-year study between 1991 and 2013. At the beginning of data collection, women taking part in the study were between 27 and 44 years old. The research team asked the women every 4 years about their eating habits over the past year and they were also about any hearing loss they may have developed over the same time.

Healthy Eating Index, Mediterranean and DASH diet

The team used the reports of food intake to calculate scores for three healthy dietary patterns: the alternate Mediterranean diet (AMED), Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), and the 2010 Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI-2010). The Mediterranean Diet is based on local fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, legumes, and olive oil that grow in areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. The Mediterranean Diet also promotes eating local seafood, drinking a glass of red wine during a meal and seldom partaking in red meat. The DASH diet encourages fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean meats, fish, and low-fat dairy, and limits sodium, sugar, and fat. Like the others, AHEI-2010 encourages vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and limits sugar, salt, and animal fat.

The researchers found that women whose dietary patterns most resembled AMED or DASH had about a 30% lower risk of hearing loss than women whose diets least resembled them. The women who didn’t have AMED or DASH dietary patterns also seemed to be more disposed to smoking, eat and have high blood pressure, and not a likely to be physically active.

Beneficial Nutrients

The researchers found that diets that prioritize fruits and vegetables with minerals like folic acid, potassium, and zinc decreased the risk of hearing loss. So, what are some of the best foods you can eat to avoid hearing loss?

Potassium a mineral found in bananas, potatoes, and black beans—plays a large role in the way that the inner ear functions and converts sounds into signals for the brain to interpret.

Zinc found in almonds, cashews, and dark chocolate can be an effective treatment for tinnitus, an ongoing ringing or buzzing in the ears that has no external source but the inside of your head.

Folic acid has also been shown to possibly slow the onset of hearing loss. Blood flow is restricted by an amino acid called homocysteine, so folic acid works to metabolize it to keep blow flow regulated. Foods high in folic acid include spinach, broccoli, and asparagus.

Hearing Consultants

It’s never too late to start eating healthier and now that you know that your diet can also affect your hearing there are just too many benefits to a healthy diet to ignore. If you suspect you are living with a hearing loss contact us at Hearing Consultants. We can test your hearing aids and help you find the best hearing aids for your need and lifestyle. Hearing aids will help you hear all the sounds you have been missing and help you get back on track to a healthy and happy life.