A Healthy Diet Can Lower the Risks of Hearing Loss
It’s no surprise that nutrition plays a large role in many aspects of physical and mental health. Most of us know that eating a healthy diet impacts vital organ functions, cardiovascular health and the immune system. You’re probably also aware that eating well helps to maintain a healthy weight which can prevent obesity-related illnesses such as type two diabetes and joint pain.
Perhaps your parents insisted you eat carrots to improve your eyesight when you were young, or encouraged you to abstain from sugar to stave off acne and stomachaches. But did they ever advise you to eat your broccoli to protect your hearing?
Despite the general acceptance that eating well improves your mind and body, many people do not realize the extent that good nutrition affects hearing specifically. Informed audiologists know just how important a role diet plays in your auditory health. In fact, research has shown that a healthful diet aids in the reduction and prevention of hearing loss. Proper nutrition can also impact and improve other auditory conditions, like tinnitus.
Types of diets associated with lower risks of hearing loss
A 22-year longitudinal study of over 80,000 women between the ages of 27 and 44 was published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2018. The study sought to examine the correlation between adherence to specific healthful diets and the risk of hearing loss. The results were positive, and researchers reported that adherence to healthful dietary patterns is associated with lower risk of hearing loss in women. Consuming a healthy diet may be helpful in reducing the risk of acquired hearing loss.
Three specific diets were studied and found to be helpful:
- Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH): This diet encourages the consumption of vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy foods and moderate consumption of poultry, seafood, whole grains and nuts.
- The Alternate Mediterranean Diet (AMED): This diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, seafood and olive oils. It discourages alcohol except in small amounts.
- 2010 Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI-2010): This diet also includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains and limits the intake of animal fat, sugar and sodium.
Specific nutrients beneficial to auditory health
In addition to following one of the healthful diets above, there are certain vitamins and minerals proven to benefit auditory health.
Multiple studies have found a link between folic acid deficiency and hearing loss in older adults. Getting the proper daily amount of folic acid, also known as vitamin B-nine, may help prevent both gradual and sudden hearing loss.
Foods rich in folic acid include broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale and spinach. A half-cup of spinach contains 54% of the recommended daily value of folate, which is 400 micrograms, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH). Peas, garbanzo beans, eggs, seafood and citrus also contain high levels of folate. One avocado contains 15% DV of folate, and a half cup of canned kidney beans has 12%. Many breads, cereals and dried pasta are fortified with folic acid.
Zinc supplementation in the zinc deficient has long been known to aid those experiencing tinnitus and sensorineural hearing loss. It may also prevent and correct presbycusis, the gradual hearing loss that often accompanies aging.
The NIH recommends 11 mg of zinc a day for males, and eight mg for females. Foods rich in zinc include red meats, poultry and seafood. Oysters contain more zinc per serving than any other food. Three ounces of king crab offers 54% of your daily value, while a serving of beef chuck provides 64%. Other foods high in zinc include yogurt, cheese, and milk, as well as beans, peas and nuts.
The administration of magnesium has been shown to combat the effects of hearing loss, possibly by targeting the free radicals given off through noise exposure and other environmental auditory traumas. The findings are significant as most Americans are deficient in magnesium.
The recommended daily allowance of magnesium is 400-420 mg for men and 310-320 mg for women. Foods high in magnesium include pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, peanuts, edamame and spinach. You can also find significant amounts of magnesium in dark chocolate, peanut butter, avocado, potato and whole wheat bread.
Eat well, hear better
By making a few mindful choices in your diet and taking care to follow recommendations by your audiologist and primary care physician, you can impact your auditory health. An audiologist can guide you further in eating a healthy diet to reduce your risk of hearing loss, and possibly prevent or correct other auditory conditions.
To learn more about Audiology and Hearing Aid Center, call 920-969-1768