Most people know that good nutrition is important in order to stay healthy. But did you know that there is a connection between what you eat and your hearing? The fact is, there are no specific foods that will definitely cause or prevent hearing loss, and lost hearing cannot be restored through a diet change. However, hearing loss studies that have been conducted have shown that certain nutrition patterns may actually decrease or increase your risk of developing hearing loss.
What Does the Research Say?
A Brigham and Women’s Hospital study monitored the hearing health of more than 70,000 women on various diets for 22 years. These diets included the Alternate Mediterranean Diet (AMED), Dietary Approaches to Shop Hypertension (DASH), and Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 (AHEI-2010). These diets included fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, legumes, whole grains, seafood, poultry, and low-fat dairy. All three diets also advise limiting foods that are high in sodium (salt) and LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, discouraging consumption of refined and red meats, processed foods, and sugary drinks.
It was found that the women following diets similar to the AHEI-2010, DASH, and AMED decreased their likelihoods of hearing loss by at least 30%, with DASH and AMED showing the greatest health benefits. The researchers found that diets that prioritize fruits and vegetables with minerals like folic acid, potassium, and zinc actually decreased the risk of hearing loss. (source)
Nutrition and Your Hearing Health: What You Should Know
Various research indicates that certain nutrients can have a positive influence on your hearing health. These include:
- Potassium, a mineral found in bananas, potatoes, and black beans, actually plays a large role in the way that the inner ear functions and converts sounds into signals for the brain to interpret. “Regular intake can help you maintain your current level of hearing,” says Sherif F. Tadros, M.D., of the International Center for Hearing and Speech Research in a Europe PubMed Central published study. (source)
- George E. Shambaugh, Jr., M.D., of the Shambaugh Hearing and Allergy Institute reports that the zinc, which is found in almonds, cashews, and dark chocolate, can be an effective treatment for tinnitus. (source)
- Magnesium is believed to combat free radicals emitted during loud noises and act as a barrier protecting inner ear hair cells. (source)
- Folic acid has been shown to possibly slow the onset of hearing loss. In short, folic acid can help metabolize homocysteine (an amino acid that can restrict blood flow). According to Jane Durga, Ph.D., of the Nestlé Research Center in Lausanne, Switzerland, this is important because the inner ear relies on a regular flow of blood. Foods high in folic acid include spinach, broccoli, and asparagus. (source)
We all know that it is important to eat healthy, but if you or a loved one are experiencing any form of hearing loss, we recommend that you visit your local hearing care professional and get your hearing health checked.
Consult with the Hearing Experts at Kenwood Hearing Center
If you or a loved one would like to speak with one of our experienced hearing care professionals, please contact us via our website in order to schedule an appointment online.