The familiar saying “ you are what you eat” holds quite a lot of truth. When you eat a healthy diet full of lean protein, fruits and vegetables, and complex carbohydrates, while limiting processed food and minimizing white flour and sugar the health benefits can be exponential. A healthy diet will allow you to better confront challenging mental tasks which require higher nutritional demands from the brain. While many understand the importance of a healthy diet for lowering blood pressure and heart health many are now beginning to realize that there is a direct connection between diet and healthier hearing.
How Does Diet Affect Hearing?
The connection between a healthy diet and healthy hearing is actually connected to the heart and blood pressure. An unhealthy diet full of saturated fats and salts limits the amount of oxygen that is delivered to your blood vessels, which in turn causes high blood pressure.
When you eat healthy you can minimize clogged arteries and constricted blood vessels, which can slow the flow of blood throughout the body, including the blood which is delivered to your ears. Your inner ear holds tiny fragile cells, which transform sound information into electrical impulse which are sent to the brain to interpret meaning and localization.
When these cells of the inner ear become damaged you receive less audio information, which is the beginning of hearing loss. The cells of your inner ear rely on a constant oxygen rich supply of blood to remain healthy which can be impacted by hypertension and cardiovascular health which may be impacted by an unbalanced diet. Hearing loss is a progressive disease, starting subtly and becoming worse over time meaning that the longer you eat an unhealthy diet, the worse your hearing loss can become.
Studying Diet and Hearing Loss
While many have suspected this connection between diet and hearing for sometimes a study from the Brigham Women’s Hospital in Boston examined more closely the link between these two factors. The study included data from over 3,000 women, taking into account their diet and hearing ability over three years. The study found that the study participants who ate a healthy diet were much less likely to have hearing loss by 25%! While there are many factors to figure into this equation it is hopeful to understand that you can help to protect your hearing while also boosting your cardiovascular health.
What Exactly is a Healthy Diet?
There are a lot of different opinions when it comes to what people feel is a healthy diet. For the study from the Brigham Women’s Hospital, they considered a healthy diet, one which promotes heart health. This includes a diet rich in whole foods, like vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and lean meats such as fish and poultry. The study based their specifications for eating healthy off two popular diets: The Alternate Mediterranean Diet (AMED) and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. The Alternate Mediterranean diet prioritizes eating fresh fruits and vegetables along nuts, whole grains, beans and fish. The DASH diet is similar but prioritizes limiting salt and sugars while can increase blood pressure levels.
Minerals and Vitamins that Make a Difference!
In addition to a diet low in fats and processed foods you want to make sure you are getting enough of essential minerals and vitamins which promote hearing health. Many of these you can absorb through vegetables, fruits, oils and proteins in a balanced diet. Some of the most important vitamins and minerals for hearing health include folic acid which helps with healthy circulation, potassium which regulates fluid levels in blood cells, and zinc which can boost and protect your immune system from infections and disease which could ultimately damage your ears. One of the most important minerals you can prioritize is magnesium found in seeds, cashews, peanuts and spinach. Magnesium helps to support bone, heart and blood pressure while also protecting the ears against noise induced hearing loss by reducing free radicals in the ear.
Supporting Better Hearing
It’s amazing that you can protect your hearing simply by what you eat. It’s never too late to slow your hearing loss by your diet. If you do suspect you have hearing loss make an appointment today for a hearing test. We can help identify the extent of your hearing and help you find the hearing support you need.