Most steps to take in combating hearing loss seem obvious. We know to use earphones when we’re mowing the lawn. We bring earplugs with us to the next big concert. And, if we work in loud environments, we use proper ear protection on a daily basis to help preserve our hearing.
In addition to all of the obvious steps we take in keeping our hearing health strong, scientists have recently discovered there are some not so obvious measures worth considering that revolve around the kind of food we eat.
Hearing Friendly Diets
Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital conducted a study over two decades where participant diet and hearing health was recorded and observed. What the study highlighted was that there is a strong correlation between certain dietary patterns and hearing loss.
Women who ate a consistently healthy diet also had a 30% lower risk of acquired hearing loss. Those who did not had a higher risk of hearing loss. The types of diet included in the study were the Alternate Mediterranean Diet (AMED) which is rich in extra virgin olive oil, grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, etc., the Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 (AHEI-2010) which has common characteristics as the AMED and DASH, and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), which is rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and low sodium.
Hearing Friendly Foods
Similar research has shown the benefits of specific minerals found in meats and plants that help preserve and promote hearing health. Following a diet like those listed above, or just eating plenty of mineral-rich foods in addition to implementing all the obvious steps to reduce noise-induced hearing loss may go a long way in preventing hearing loss.
Look for foods like potatoes, spinach, raisins, bananas, tomatoes, oranges, and dairy for good sources of potassium. Potassium helps regulate fluid levels in the body which is important for maintaining proper fluid in the inner ear.
Magnesium seems to have the power to protect the cochlea directly when the ears are exposed to loud noises. Look for food such as artichokes, bananas, spinach, potatoes, and tomatoes to keep your diet magnesium rich.
Not only is folic acid an important mineral during pregnancy, it also promotes new cell growth, which may help prevent presbycusis, the most common form of sensorineural hearing loss acquired from natural aging. Foods rich in folic acid include spinach, broccoli, asparagus, and organ meat.
Zinc is an important component in keeping the body’s immune system healthy and strong, thereby staving off infections, especially ear infections that can cause hearing damage over time. Foods to consider that are zinc abundant include beef, pork, dark meat chicken, peanuts, lentils, dark chocolate, beans, almonds, cashews, and oysters.
Eating a diet full of color will guarantee you’re supplying your body with important nutrients and minerals to help preserve your overall health, and more specifically, your hearing health. Avoiding processed food and sticking to the basics is a no-brainer for keeping your body and your hearing healthy and strong as you age.