Hearing & Nutrition: Can Your Diet Affect Your Hearing?

Hearing & Nutrition: Can Your Diet Affect Your Hearing?
Dr. Steinberg

Have you ever heard the term” you are what you eat” and wondered what it meant? Well, the foods you eat have a big impact on your overall health, your energy, and your sense of well-being. Not only this but did you know that what you eat affects your hearing as well? Recent studies show that a healthy diet can keep your ears hearing clearer for years to come.

The Link Between Diet and Your Ears

We all know that eating healthy supposedly makes us feel better, but that can be difficult when it means giving up our favorite foods such as sweets, red meats, and tasty processed foods. However, a study from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts examined how diet affects hearing to enforce the importance of prioritizing certain foods over others. 

The study examined health data from over 3,000 women including what they ate and how that correlated with their hearing health. At the beginning of the study, all participants had hearing tests which were repeated after three years. The data clearly showed that certain diets supported better hearing health over others. Women who ate a healthy diet were 25% less likely to develop hearing loss!  

Hearing Healthy Foods

There were several different general diets followed in the study. Participants who followed a few popular diets which promoted hearing health fared much better than other diets. Here are two popular diets which supported hearing health the most:

  • AMED (alternate Mediterranean diet): This diet emulates foods that someone would have the most access to in the region of the world surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. It is rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, legumes, fish, and olive oil.
  • DASH (the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension): This diet is designed to lower high blood pressure and stresses the importance of limiting salt, processed sugars, and fat from the diet along with a high intake of vegetables, fruits, dairy, and lean meats.

How Does Food Affect Hearing?

What these diets have in common is low intake or avoidance of processed foods and foods high in saturated fats. Avoiding these foods can protect your heart and keep your blood pressure at a healthy level, which in turn, surprisingly protects your hearing health.

Blood flow is essential to your total body and your ears are no exception. While the sound is collected by the ears, it is fragile hairlike cells that are responsible for delivering sound to the brain. These cells rely on a healthy supply of blood to the ears which diet like the DASH and AMED promote. 

When these cells are damaged your hearing can also sustain permanent damage, so it is important to be preemptive in choosing a healthy diet. With a healthy diet, you can make sure at least one factor towards protecting your health is covered. Other factors include avoiding or protecting yourself against loud noises daily, wearing a helmet when engaged in high-impact sports and activities, daily exercise, avoiding certain chemicals and medications, quitting smoking, avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, and promoting a healthy immune system.

What Foods Should You Avoid?

If you have a sweet tooth, it is important to reassess this relationship. While sugar may make you feel good at the moment the health effects of too much processed sugar in your diet include hypertension, inflammation, diabetes, fatty liver disease heart attack stroke, and of course hearing loss. Avoid candy, cake, and sugary drinks. It’s amazing how much sugar is in everything we eat and how catastrophic it can be for the entire body. Read food labels and try to eliminate sugar from your diet. 

Instead, when you have a sugar craving try fruit. It’s amazing how addictive sugar can be and how good you can feel when you go out of the way to avoid it. In addition, excessive sodium intake in salty foods can raise blood pressure, causing damage to your ears as well as issues throughout your entire body. Similarly, red meat and high-fat foods can clog blood arteries if eaten in excess, causing hypertension and cardiovascular issues, which can further complicate hearing issues as well.

Do You Have Hearing Loss?

If you have hearing issues it is important to treat them before they can progress to other symptoms difficult to reverse such as rifts in relationships, loss of earnings at work, cognitive decline, and lack of mobility. If you suspect you have a hearing issue, treat it now. In conjunction with a healthy diet, we can help you hear clearly for years to come.