Just about any health condition has a connection with healthy eating. Things like heart disease and diabetes have an immediate connection to diet, but mental health aspects do likewise – those who eat healthy foods report higher feelings of general well-being, and recent medical research highlights the body-mental connection.
With these many advantages of proper nutrition, you can add another benefit – improved hearing health. While researchers don’t understand how hearing loss and diet are linked, a recent study confirms the connection and points us to new areas of exploration. Let’s take a look at the study, the types of food that the study prescribes, and how it might prevent future hearing loss.
Hearing loss and healthy diets correlate
The study, conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers and published in the American Journal of Epidemiology examined the eating behaviors of women in their 50s and early 60s (the participant’s average age was 59). Those women had their hearing checked in one of 19 testing centers across the US. These women returned to the testing site three years later to have another hearing test.
First, the research found the whole group to have a striking hearing loss rate. Nearly half of the women had some hearing loss in the high hearing range, and 38 percent had some harm in the crucial hearing field that is important for understanding human speech.
Still more surprising was the correlation with healthy diets. Though they had some hearing loss, those women whose diets over the past 20 years looked more like the DASH and Mediterranean diets showed 25 percent less high-range and 30% less mid-range frequency hearing loss.
Though this study highlighted an area of hearing loss previously undeveloped, more research needs to be done. For instance, researchers have no clear picture of how healthy eating leads to hearing loss. The study group also highlighted white women of a given age range. Future research should broaden that scope to include more diverse groups of people, which should give weight to the researchers’ conclusions.
Which nutrients should we be eating?
Although there is more work to be done, the study offers a valuable reminder that our diets can have a significant effect on our hearing. Here are some nutrients unique to you that can help.
- Folate: Folate is most often associated with prenatal vitamins because it is an essential nutrient for pregnancy. But the benefits of folate don’t stop at birth. High intakes of folate are correlated with a reduced risk of aging hearing loss. Foods like spinach, kale, roman lettuce, kidney beans, chickpeas, and lentils can help.
- Omega-3: By increasing the intake of omega-3 fatty acids, the onset of hearing loss from aging can be prevented. While we usually have our fill with soft gels from fish oil, more delicious ways to get our fill is to eat salmon, sardines, or mackerel. Walnuts or chia seeds are also an option if you’re not into oily fish.
- Potassium: This is an essential nutrient in your body to regulate fluids. Did you know that several vital fluids are in the ear too? Try to incorporate some sweet potatoes or bananas into your diet.
- Magnesium: A survey of 300 people found that those who drank a magnesium-rich drink a day could maintain better hearing, even if they lived in noisy places. Magnesium-high foods include bananas, peanut butter, onions, artichokes, almonds, black beans, and brown rice.
- Vitamins C and E: Both of these vitamins have antioxidants that prevent damage to healthy cells linked to hearing. You can include vitamins C and E into your diet by eating citrus fruit, almonds, sunflower oil, or peanut butter.
Treating Hearing Loss
Although the research is exciting news, a healthy diet is only one way to promote healthy hearing. Since hearing loss may happen slowly, you may not accept hearing loss until it starts affecting your life. That is why regular hearing tests are essential. These are simple and painless, so if you think you are experiencing signs of hearing loss, please contact us today.