The food we consume can impact our health in significant ways. The benefits of healthy diets are commonly known: supports immune and digestive system, increases energy, boosts blood flow, strengthens muscle and bone health etc. But did you know that healthful diets can also reduce the risk of hearing loss?
Hearing loss is one of the most pervasive health conditions that people experience today. Impacting nearly 1 in 6 people, hearing loss is the third most common health issue people live with. Because hearing loss is often permanent, extensive research explores lifestyle factors that people can adjust to prevent its development. Numerous studies highlight diet as a modifiable risk factor, highlighting that what we eat can impact hearing health. There are also several nutrients that can boost hearing health.
Link Between Diet & Hearing Loss
There is significant evidence that highlights a correlation between diet and hearing health. Studies show that healthy diets can reduce the risk of hearing loss and support hearing health. A major study investigating this link was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Researchers at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital studied the link between diet and hearing health by collecting and assessing data on dietary patterns and hearing health for 81,818 participants. People had their diet and hearing evaluated every 4 years for 22 years. Researchers found that compared to people not following healthful diets, participants who did practice healthy ways of eating were:
- 25% less likely to develop high frequency hearing loss
- 30% less likely to develop mid-frequency hearing loss
These findings highlight a significant correlation between hearing loss and diet. This supports further studies that identify diet as a risk factor for hearing health.
Impact of Diet on Hearing Health
In explaining this link, researchers suggest that healthier diets protect hearing health by supporting cardiovascular health. The cardiovascular system circulates oxygen and nutrients to the major organs in the body which support is what sustains us. Healthful diets support cardiovascular health in a few ways including preventing conditions like diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease etc. which can damage arteries and restrict blood flow. This type of damage impacts the body in numerous ways including potentially impacting the ears, disrupting their capacity to absorb and process sound. Healthful diets actually support healthy blood flow and the circulation of nutrients which strengthens organs and the body’s systems.
Nutrients that Boost Hearing Health
Healthy diets offer a range of nutrients that are great for the body. Researchers assessed the diets in the study mentioned previously and found that they resembled recogniziable dietary patterns including: Alternate Mediterranean Diet (AMED), Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI-2010). These diets emphasize plant based foods and eliminate processed foods. They are rich in vegetables, fruits, adn whole grains while meat, alcohol, and dairy are recommended in moderation. This approach to eating is full of nutrients that boost hearing health. This includes:
- Folate: also known as vitamin B-9, folate helps maintain healthy cells and encourages the development of new cells. Foods that are high in folate include: spinach, beans, broccoli, eggs, and asparagus.
- Vitamin C: studies have shown that vitamin C can support the auditory brain stem, preventing damage from excessive loud noise exposure. Foods that are high in vitamin C include: citrus fruits like oranges, bell peppers, brussel sprouts, strawberries, and papaya.
- Magnesium: supports healthy nerves and muscles as well as boosts the immune system. Magnesium has also been found to help protect the hair cells in the inner ear which help process soundwaves. Foods that are high in magnesium include: artichokes, potatoes, spinach, and tomatoes.
- Potassium: this nutrient helps regulate fluid levels throughout the body including in the inner ear. This supports hair cells and nerve pathways which help process soundwaves and carry these signals to the brain. Foods that are high in potassium include: cucumber, beets, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, and peas.
These nutrients contribute to a healthy diet that supports hearing health. We recommend integrating more of these nutrients in your everyday diet.
Contact us to learn more about ways you can reduce your risk of hearing loss. We can schedule an appointment for a hearing consultation which is the first step towards prioritizing your hearing health.