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We all know that we are supposed to eat well-balanced meals every day, but do we really know why? Eating well each and every day is surely important for overall well-being, for general healthiness. But being specific and intentional about what you eat can have direct impact on your body in surprising ways. For example, research has shown that boosting your intake of specific nutrients can be beneficial to your hearing health.
It has been found that potassium has associations with positive hearing health outcomes. Potassium is a mineral that is found in potatoes and black beans, but is perhaps most associated with bananas. It is also found in spinach, tomatoes, lima beans, melons, oranges, apricots, and even in dairy products like milk and yogurt. Potassium is key to regulating the amount of fluid in the blood and in body tissue. Your inner ear is in fact filled with fluid—it’s called endolymph—that is critical to you keeping your balance and knowing where your body is oriented. This fluid translates the noises of the outside world into electrical impulses, which are then interpreted as sounds. Having adequate potassium in your system is important, then, for regulating the amount of fluid—too much or too little and you will have problems with, or discomfort surrounding, your hearing.
Folic Acid is another key nutrient that is vital to hearing health. Your body’s ability to generate new cell growth is dependent upon Folic Acid. People with lower levels of folic acid have been found to be prone to age-related hearing loss. Folic acid is critical to metabolizing the amino acid called homocysteine, which restricts blood flow (so key to a healthy nervous system and healthy body). The inner ear relies upon the consistent flow of blood and so folic acid is critical to accomplishing this.
Folic acid is relatively easy to ingest every day, as it is found in meat, spinach, asparagus, and broccoli. Some studies have found that people deficient in folic acid—as well as another key nutrient, B12—can have their hearing impaired by nearly 40%. Research published in the journal Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery in December of 2010 suggests that deficiencies in these nutrients hurt the nervous system and the vascular system, and that deficiencies may also damage the coating that covers the cochlear nerve.
Alongside potassium and folic acid, magnesium has been found to positively impact hearing health. The University of Michigan Kresge Hearing Research Institute published research that found that people who make it a habit to take magnesium as well as taking Vitamins A, C, and E are less prone to hearing loss that occurs as a result of noise.
Magnesium is important to maintaining the normal functioning of your nerves and muscles, both of which are critically supporting a healthy immune system. This is due in part to the fact that magnesium protects the delicate hair cells that are instrumental to your body’s ability to capture noise and translate them into identifiable sounds. When these hair cells are damaged or lost altogether, your hearing diminishes and cannot be repaired. At the same time, deficiencies in your magnesium levels can cause the blood vessels in your inner ear to shrink, which can also cause irreversible hearing damage. Magnesium, like some of the other nutrients discussed here, can be found in tomatoes, spinach, bananas, and potatoes, but also in artichokes.
Lastly, zinc has been found to be very important to healthy hearing. Like folic acid, zinc helps with cell growth and cell reproduction, but it also helps in the prevention of ear infections. While maintaining healthy hearing, zinc can also be useful to treating tinnitus, which is the persistent ringing, crackling, buzzing, and whirring that some people experience, typically after sudden or prolonged exposure to overly loud noises. While zinc can be an incredibly important part of any healthy diet, it can also cause conflict for people who are taking antibiotics, so you should always consult your physician before taking zinc or any other supplement. Zinc can be found in many foods, including beef, chicken, pork, oysters, beans, and some forms of chocolate.
Being aware of hearing health is an important part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Eating the foods and taking the supplements necessary to maintain blood flow healthy cell regeneration will not only make you feel better, but can support your healthy hearing as well.
Another important element of maintaining your hearing health is an annual hearing test. If you’ve noticed changes in your hearing, contact us at Elite Hearing today for a comprehensive hearing exam.