Most doctors and nutritionists advise use to eat healthy, well-rounded meals for a reason. There are many foods that provide our bodies with essential nutrients to keep them running properly and to even help prevent the onset of unwelcome medical conditions.
Did you know that the top three medical conditions in the US are heart disease, arthritis, and hearing loss? The very same foods that specialists advise us to eat for a heart-healthy diet are ones we’d eat for a hearing-healthy diet.
Here is a guide to nutrients that boost hearing, or even prevent or delay hearing loss.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Contrary to popular belief, not all fats are bad. In fact, Omega-3 fatty acids are lauded by medical specialists from many different fields.
Omega-3 fatty acids are most commonly found in fish, as well as nuts and seeds. These fatty acids help different bodily systems function and they also deliver great benefits to your overall health. Fish oil, which provides omega-3 fatty acids, helps to lower your blood fat levels – high levels of which could lead to heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids also possess anti-inflammatory properties which help with joint pain and stiffness experienced with rheumatoid arthritis.
Among other accomplishments, Omega-3s also help to protect against dementia, ADHD, depression, asthma, and of course, hearing. In an article from The Daily Sentinel, it is reported that “people who eat two or more portions of fish per week are 42% less likely to develop presbycusis [age-related hearing loss] compared with those who do not eat fish on a regular basis.”
The very same anti-inflammatory properties of Omega-3s strengthen blood vessels of the inner ear, which help protect against hearing loss.
You’ll find Omega-3s in fish such as: anchovies, bluefish, herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, sturgeon, lake trout, and tuna. If you don’t eat fish, you can find Omega-3s in walnuts, flaxseed, canola oil, and soybean oil.
Antioxidants, Folic Acid
Antioxidants – we’ve all heard about them, but what exactly are they? Free radicals are molecules that harm our bodies and have been found in the development of blood vessel disease and cancer. Antioxidants are nutrients that fight these free radicals.
Dr. Colleen Le Prell found that antioxidants also help reduce noise-induced hearing loss in animals, when taken before and after loud noise. Noise induced hearing loss occurs when our ears are exposed to loud sounds. Dr. Le Prell’s research shows that “damage to the sensory cells can be prevented by antioxidants that prevent free radical damage by binding to free radical molecules and rendering them harmless.” This was found predominantly in Dr. Le Prell’s work with guinea pigs, whose hearing is similar to our own.
Dr. Le Prell notes that “vitamins A, C, and E, and magnesium worked in synergy to prevent cell damage.” When antioxidants were taken an hour before exposure to noise, there was a significant reduction in damage to inner ear cells.
Antioxidants include vitamins such as A, C, and E, minerals such as selenium, and flavonoids, which are found in plants. You may find antioxidants in many fruits and vegetables, as well as red wine and tea. Folic acid is found in leafy greens (spinach, romaine lettuce), and has also been found to prevent damage to the inner ear. Dr. Joe McDermott reports in The Daily Sentinel that people “over the age of 50 years with folate deficiency have been reported to have a 35% higher risk of hearing loss.”
How Hearing Health is Connected to Overall Health
Comorbidity is a term used in the medical community to describe when multiple medical conditions are related to each other. Hearing loss is connected to a number of comorbidities, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and dementia. It has also been linked to an increased number of falls and accidents, a higher rate of hospitalization and lower earning power compared to people with normal hearing.
By incorporating crucial nutrients into your diet, you are simultaneously boosting your hearing, or preventing or delaying hearing loss – and ensuring your overall health and well-being. These nutrients, as we’ve learned, all help with many different parts of our bodily systems.